October – plan for the spring!

We have reached the autumn, the time to be tempted to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Although they are available in pots in the early months of the year, it’s far better - and cheaper - to dig them in now. Bulbs are easy to plant, and are excellent for children to enjoy. Indoors, prepared hyacinths planted in bowls can be in flower by Christmas. Plant with the tip of the bulb just showing, lightly water the bulb fibre, and keep in a cool, dark place. When the buds appear after a few weeks, bring the bowl into a normally-lit room and look forward to a few weeks of colour and scent. (n.b. wear gloves when handling hyacinth bulbs, as they can cause skin rashes). Paperwhite narcissi are also popular for indoor flowering, again for their heady scent as well as their pure white flowers. For outside bulbs, the choice is huge, but size matters. For low flowering, consider crocus, iris, cyclamen and snowdrops: planting in groups will have a better effect than spreading too thinly, especially with smaller bulbs which can be drowned out by other plants. Also, for a natural effect, scatter bulbs and plant them where they land. Fritillaria Meleagris (Snake’s Head Fritillary) and Fritillaria Michailovskyi are both excellent for naturalising and will reach around 20cm. For medium height, there are a whole array of tulips of all shades from the bright orange Sunlover (40cm), to the refreshingly variegated Flaming Spring Green (45cm) to the rich, dark (almost back) Paul Sherer (45cm). To complement these, there are plenty of narcissi at this height, which will usually flower in March and April, about a month earlier than tulips. If you need height, Allium Globemaster (80cm high), Gladiator (120cm) and Summer Drummer, a massive 1.8 metres tall with 20cm flower heads, will all provide an impressive show in June and July. They are excellent pollinating plants and can be cut and dried for indoor our outdoor displays.

David Hogg Buckland Nurseries

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