A clever choice of bulbs in your planting scheme can mean a succession of colour for most of the year. Although you are too late to plant spring flowering bulbs, you can still add to your garden with varieties ‘in the green’ and some summer flowering bulbs. Some varieties are best planted ‘in the green’ lifted just after flowering which gives a higher success rate than by planting the bulbs. Examples of this are Snowdrops (Galanthus), our English Bluebells (Hyacinthoides) and Lily of the Valley (Convallaria).
Now is the time over the next few weeks to identify where in the garden you have gaps and design a scheme to fill in those empty boring spaces with some magic. I have given a rough guide to flowering months but this can change considerably depending on our English weather:
MARCH Dwarf Iris + Narcissus + Anemone blanda + Leucojum vernum
APRIL Tulips + Narcissus + Muscari
MAY Tulips + Narcissus + Fritillaria meleagris + Bluebells
JUNE Camassia + Alliums + Ornithogalum
JULY Lilies + Galtonia + Crocosmia
AUGUST Agapanthus + Crinum + Eucomis + Liatris
SEPTEMBER Nerine bowdenii + Colchium
OCTOBER Cyclamen + Autumn crocus
April and May are key months for spring bulbs, so to make sure you get the most from both Tulips and Narcissus during this time, plant both early and later flowering varieties of each.
As part of any planting scheme, I design a bulb plan to elongate the flowering season. It is also a good record of where bulbs are planted in the garden, so next year you can see what worked and what didn’t. Use bulbs to give dramatic impact and a shock of colour with combinations flowering at the same time. Remember to go for bigger numbers than you think - a pack of 10 tulips will be lost in a garden and keep it simple – don’t choose too many colours flowering together. Don’t plant in rows – scatter by hand and plant where they land.
Top garden jobs for the month:
• Protect new spring shoots from slugs
• Plant summer-flowering bulbs
• Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials
• Top dress containers with fresh compost
• Cut back Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for colourful winter stems