Rod and Jane (left) offer advice on how to get the best out of your spring bulbs
Try growing bulbs from seed. It is far easier than most gardeners imagine and can give you lots of bulbs in a relatively short period. Seed of cyclamen, crocus, Tulipa sprengeri, Tulipa sylvestris, lilies and most members of the Fritillaria can be scattered directly on to the soil and lightly covered. Once established they will re-seed.
It is easy to forget where bulbs are planted, with the risk that you might put a fork through them when they are dormant. Put a layer of sharp sand over the area where bulbs are planted to indicate their location.
Plant lots. Bulbs planted in large groups or in drifts look much better than single specimens. Bulbs can be inexpensive and, in general, the cheaper the bulb the more likely it is to thrive.
Ensure that you are planting the bulb the right way up, with the roots pointing down into the soil. Sometimes it is hard to tell, particularly with corms of crocus and some gladioli. With these, look for the scar that roots have left behind. On heavy soils, plant Fritillaria imperialis and Fritillaria persica bulbs at an angle, to prevent water collecting in their centres.
The best sources of help and information are local nurseries and horticultural societies. The membership fee to a specialist society, such as the Alpine Garden Society, repays itself quickly in the advice and inspiration. Not to mention the free seeds that you get.
Narrow paths wind around densely planted beds. Among them a mature specimen of Magnolia , with its sparkling white flowers, is stellata underplanted with . Muscari armeniacum