Spring bulbs for containers, beds and lawns

Spring bulbs are widespread and endlessly adaptable. The smaller, more delicate and often older ones are best suited for table displays in fetch containers. Those that are native or tend to naturalize will fill a meadow or large border with drops of color. They bring unusual color and shape to beds and borders as spring planting comes back.

With judicious planting, you can get a series of blooms from early February to late May, ranging from snowdrops, crocuses and… The iris is reticular, ending with late tulips such as “Queen of the Night.” In the beds, alliums and camassia expand the display even further.

The reticulated iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ with icy blue petals and bright yellow on its cascades is a great choice for pots. Image: Shutterstock.

Even varieties within a species bloom at different times, so check bloom times in the supplier’s notes and make selections for early, medium and late bulbs. Usually two to three types of each type are enough for containers and borders.

“One disadvantage of bulbs is that they are not ordered enough,” explains garden designer Joe Thompson. While ordering larger quantities may seem like an expenditure, Joe notes that in terms of filling space, when it comes to purchasing a 2-litre perennial, “bulbs are cheap. More is better with bulbs, although you can’t always expect She returned the following year.

Bulbs, including ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips, usually look best when planted in a group. Buy as many as possible. Image: Shutterstock.

Spring lights for containers are cost effective

Gardener and designer Arthur Parkinson’s personal garden is almost entirely container-based, largely due to the moist soil—most bulbs need good drainage to thrive. “If I have bulbs in the garden, I place a large pot of them in the middle of the bed, which creates a lively, color-changing island in the spring,” he explains. Arthur believes it is more cost effective to focus on containers when planting bulbs. This is partly because they can be moved to high-traffic areas, such as next to the front door, where they can be better enjoyed. This is especially true for small bulbs, which may get lost in the confines.

Joe adds that you can move containers out of sight where the leaves of bulbs like daffodils die back. She prefers galvanized buckets, the kind found at building dealers, because they are lightweight and have a handle for easy carrying. You drill holes in the base for drainage.

“The main thing is always to make sure your pots have good drainage when planting bulbs,” Arthur warns. For this reason, he lines the bases of his containers with about three inches of crumbled polystyrene. It’s a good idea to keep broken clay pots for this purpose as well. The bulbs already have all the nutrients they need to grow, so they don’t need a specific growing medium. Use an all-purpose peat-free compost.

Spring bulbs
At Lismore Castle, peach-hued tulips meet royal Fritillaria imperialis. Try the late-flowering duos ‘Copper Image’ and ‘La Belle Époque’ for a similar look. Image: Shutterstock.

So how do you make your choice? Arthur cuts up catalogs of lamps to create a mood board to help him choose. “I use Blu Tack so I can move things around,” he explains. A digital folder will also work. Note the variety, supplier and flowering time, keeping in mind the economies of scale with which most suppliers operate.

Arthur chooses the pots he will use, then draws a planting plan with a circle for each pot. From this he discovers what to plant. “I’m also thinking of smaller things to bring inside. It’s nice to have terracotta pots filled with muscari and irises on the kitchen table. In the garden, early spring bulbs are a food source for bees. “And I’m always most grateful for the color in February and March,” he adds.

In the fall and winter, squirrels can be a problem. “You can waste a lot of money if you don’t protect your lights from them,” says Arthur. To that end, he makes cloaks out of willow twigs or silver birch twigs, covers them with black chicken wire and tops them with outdoor fairy lights — “so they become a beautiful pile of twinkle in the dark.” A barbecue grill buried one inch below the top of the pan can also provide effective protection.

Spring bulbs for beds and borders

To cover a full square meter of ground, work through about 60 bulbs of tulips, daffodils and larger garlic. For smaller bulbs, including tulips, irises, crocuses and small alliums, increase this number to 100. If you are planting bulbs around certain shrubs and perennials in the flower bed, you will need less than this.

Although there is not as intense an emphasis on bulbs in beds and borders as there is in containers, color is just as important. Think about the plants here that might reappear and how the color and shape of the bulbs you choose will interact with them.

Spring bulbs
Try April-flowering ‘Beautiful Princess’ for drops of bright, cheerful color. Image: Shutterstock.

“We tend to think we should always stick to the color wheel. “There are some classic examples of that – orange and purple or black and white, for example – but it’s interesting to mix it up a bit,” Joe explains. “You can add a little bit of bright pink To the orange and blue scheme. Or some soft pinks to give you a little interest. The great thing about tulips is that if the color isn’t right, you can cut them and bring them home. Peachy pinks with a touch of cream and burgundy are very popular. To get this look, consider tulips such as ‘Apricot Impression’, ‘La Belle Époque’ and ‘Mystic van Eijk’.

Joe also suggests using the “Odysseus” whistle. This variety is unusual in that it falls on the peach end of the color spectrum. Always keep a close eye on the colors when planting bulbs. Bulbs with white flowers may be creamy white, such as the tulip ‘Purissima’ or ‘Diana’, which is plain white. “The all-white scheme is probably one of the hardest combinations to get right,” Joe adds.

Spring bulbs
Peach-colored tulips such as ‘Apricot Impression’ are very popular. Image: Shutterstock.

Make sure to keep your lamps with good companions. Despite its small size, Muscari Oshiri ‘Blue Magic’ will encounter a much larger lavender due to its bright blue colour, yet the paler ‘Valerie Fenice’ will get lost in the crowd. “Keep the small with the small, and the large with the big – unless they are dark in color and can fight for their place,” advises Jo.

When you need a good mix of bulbs, gather them all into a cart, so they are mixed as you plant. If squirrels are a problem, bury the bulbs two or three times deeper than recommended, and cover the planting area with a layer of chicken netting.

Spring bulbs for lawns and landscaping

Camassias, alliums and daffodils are especially good in open spaces, where they can get all the space they need to spread without overwhelming other plants. Certain types of tulips, such as ‘Green Wave’ and ‘White Valley’, tend to be perennial and can also do well in these environments.

Spring bulbs
Narcissus lattice It is arguably one of the most beautiful Narcissus varieties. Image: Shutterstock.

Joe suggests considering using different combinations for different locations. Narcissus “Thalia” or n. My hair The drive can be lined up. Tulip species can settle under fruit trees; A sea of ​​camas can fill the meadow.

If you want a spring bulb meadow, plant according to the height of the grass as it grows. Aconite and snowdrops appear first, then saffron. Wood anemones And the likes of Fritillary’s Head of the Snake.

Snakehead fritillary (Fritillaria melegris) Good naturalization, flowering at about the same time Anemone nemerosa.

Sarah Raven points out that daffodils, which are particularly suited to naturalization, should “look natural, like you might see them in the wild.” While native plants are not essential, natives are daffodil It will work well in this type of setup. Sarah includes a good list of daffodils that can be grown on the lawn in her book, A year full of flowers.

It is important to leave the meadow grass uncut until the last foliage on the plants has died. This means that the bulbs will have enough reserves to flower again the following year. Avoid cutting your lawn until mid-summer, then continue to trim your lawn so you can easily replenish your bulb supply in the fall. If you keep the grass short in the winter, you won’t need to cut it — and thus destroy the emerging foliage — in the spring.

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