Differing varieties of bulb will bloom according to the season and can be planted to provide a continuous display, from the early flowering snowdrops and crocuses on to the first glorious splash of colour with tulips, through spring with daffodils and hyacinths before summer brings fabulous alliums and lilies.
Plan your year by planting spring-flowering and hardy summer-flowering bulbs in autumn, tender summer-flowering bulbs in early spring, and autumn-flowering bulbs by late summer.
Plant bulbs in any free draining area of the garden, avoiding dips and hollows where water may collect. Some bulbs are more hardy than others and care must be taken with the tender varieties according to local climate, aspect and weather conditions, although container planting will give them added protection and the opportunity to move if conditions prove unfavourable. Most blooms will appreciate some sunshine.
Plant bulbs in drifts or clumps to give a more impressive show, formal lines tend to appear isolated with very little depth of colour. Bulbs with larger foliage, like daffodils, should be planted among other herbaceous perennial plants to hide the dying leaves as the blooms fade. Plant low bulbs in front of taller plants particularly if they bloom at the same time and build a display that will move through the growing season, allowing each successive bulb variety to take the place of its predecessor as the foliage dies down.
Plant your bulbs as soon as you receive them, they will arrive in a dry, dormant state with very little roots and be aware that prolonged storage may affect the flowering later on. Generally speaking bulbs should be planted about twice their own depth in free draining soil, adding sand or grit if the ground is heavy. Place them into the ground with the pointy shoot upwards about 10cm apart.
Your bulbs are a store of energy and nutrient and won’t require feed in the first year. Apply compost or a general purpose fertilizer for the second year as new shoots develop. After flowering allow the foliage to die back naturally while the plant takes on essential resources which will be stored in the bulb for the following year. Every few years dig up your clumps of bulbs and divide and transplant them to produce fresh plants with extra vigour.
With a little care and some early planning it is possible to design a floral garden with an ever changing showcase of colour and foliage. Flowering bulbs will reproduce a magnificent display year after year with very little effort.