Planting / Winter

Plan now your top bulbs

By Paul Hervey-Brookes

Bulbs are not like seeds, they will not last indefinitely, so if you come across some that you didn't get to plant in the autumn do it now and you may be surprised at the end result. It’s better to give them a fighting chance in the ground or in a pot than let them dry up in the shed or garage. Bulbs are, by nature's design, survivors.

There is nothing better than bright, colourful spring bulbs to herald the end of dark winter days.
Paul Hervey-Brookes

Traditionally daffodils, crocus, tulip and snowdrop are the most commonly seen flowers in our gardens.

Daffodils are one of the most reliable spring bulbs and there are hundreds of varieties to pick from. All daffodils have the botanical name narcissi. Daffodil is applied to bulbs with large trumpets or large double flowers.

In this family 'Jet Fire' will give a blast of strong colour and is one of the most weather and wind resistant dwarf daffodils with bright yellow petals and a glowing orange trumpet. In contrast 'Cheerfulness' has gardenia like blooms with a sweet, spicy fragrance. If you thought all daffodils were yellow or white, think again. 'Salome' has warm white petals, a salmon pink cup and a lovely light fragrance. A lovely one to cut for a vase in the house.

Narcissus 'Rip Van Winkle' is unique as it has unusual shaped double flowers with pale greenish yellow petals and stands out in a crowd. Two pretty but different tulips are Tulipa 'La Belle Epoque' that has cappuccino coloured flowers flushed with pink. This is an elegant tulip that has a delicate appearance.

Tulipa 'Wow' first appeared in 2015 and has been described as a cross between an artichoke and a tulip. It has a double form with a green feathered ivory bottom and densely packed layers of purple petals.

From the snowdrop family try planting Puschkinia (Russian Snowdrop). These white, star shaped flowers are striped in the most extraordinary shade of blue. They are resilient and love the sun. Although they look exceptionally pretty when planted under Silver Birch trees they are equally happy baking in the sun.

For something out of the ordinary Allium 'Hair' is one of the most unusual and dramatic bulbs available. The flower heads are truly astonishing with crazy green hair like petals and purple centres. Alongside this comes Allium schubertii. This is a slightly other worldly looking plant. Rich pink flower stalks of unequal length create spherical umbels. This is a spring bulb to add interest to any border or planter.

English bluebells are a classic for the garden. They thrive in damp, shady areas and are very resilient.

Hyacinths are not to everyone's liking. They have a powerful fragrance but the upright, majestic lowers are magnificent. Although most people grow them in pots they are surprisingly hardy and will grow outdoors. For a striking effect try 'Midnight Mystique' for its enigmatic black flowers.

Meet the author

Paul Hervey-Brookes

Paul had his own highly successful landscape design business, and has also designed a range of gardening gifts for Marks & Spencers.

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