Planting a succession of bulbs

November can feel cold, grey, damp and depressing so why not plan ahead for a cheerful start to the new growing season by ordering and planting a succession of bulbs. November is not too late to plant bulbs, especially as we have been experiencing long, mild autumns recently.

Careful selection of bulbs can add interest to your borders and bring early colour and cheer into your garden. Make sure to take time to plan your displays to get the best effect.

Top tips for planting a succession of bulbs:

Plant in large groups and drifts where possible to maximise the effect. Online you can find wholesale nurseries that will sell bulk bags at good prices allowing you to repeat clumps of 7 or 9 creating  rhythm and harmony  in your spring planting scheme.

Avoid buying mixed bags of daffodils. The price may be tempting but mixed colours and different forms within each clump can look messy and inharmonious. These mixed bags are intended for planting out singly and are a good choice for naturalising bulbs into grassland but they will take several years to establish into clumps.

Look out for the smaller, multitheaded Narcissi such as the Jonquil group. These are varieties such as ‘Tete a Tete’ which have a more delicate appeal than the large trumpet head varieties.

Keep your colour scheme limited. Think about a scheme for each month. The early Iris and crocus tend to lend themselves to blue and purple colour schemes. They complement Pulmonaria and create drama when planted amongst Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens. Yellows, whites and oranges of the daffodils give way to the rich orange, blues, pinks and purples of the tulips. Try to choose two or three maximum colours of tulip that will harmonise well and keep it limited for best effect.

Plant directly into your lawn to create an ‘exotic meadow’ – if you can bear not to make your first cut until the Camassia finishes flowering in June then why not turn an area of your lawn into an ‘exotic meadow’ with a succession of bulbs flowering amongst the grasses. This is not recommended for fine lawns but your average family lawn will become a haven for insects and butterflies.  The grasses will start to flower too and it wont take long before the wildflowers find their way in too. Once you have made a rough, high cut in June you can mow as normal for the rest of summer.

A year of bulbs

The following bulbs will create a succession of interest from early February right through to the autumn: Crocus and November flowering Nerine, Iris reticulata, Iris histroides, Crocus, Narcissi, Tulip, Camassia, Allium, Crocosmia, Dahlia, Colchicum, Nerine.



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