Summer may be coming to a close, but there’s little time to put your feet up as it’s almost time to begin planting your spring bulbs.
Christine Skelmersdale, managing director of Broadleigh Gardens, which specialises in smaller bulbs, offers the following advice.
Watch your planting depth
“Traditionally people were told to plant bulbs twice as deep as the height of the bulb itself, but that is rubbish. Bulbs should be planted 4-6 inches deep. Put them into a sensible, deep hole away from the vagaries of heat and cold and wet and dry.”
Check your soil
“Make sure the soil’s not waterlogged. If you plant tulips in light soil, they should go deeper than the conventional depth. I have to plant mine the week before Christmas because I am so busy, but it doesn’t make any difference. They’ll still bloom at the same time in spring.”
Care for your containers
Don’t use multi-purpose compost, which has the consistency of peat, when planting bulbs in pots. Use a large pot and fill it with loam-based compost, as multi-purpose tends to dry out. Ensure the pot has good drainage so the bulbs don’t rot.
Try some new varieties
Christine recommends a tiny daffodil, new to Broadleigh Gardens, called ‘Snowy Baby’. It’s a pale milky colour with a tiny dwarf trumpet and grows to around 6 inches high. Plant it in the front of a border or in a raised bed or rock garden. Plant in autumn and it will flower in March.
Multiflora are a new breed of long-lasting tulip with up to six heads per stem, growing to around 16 inches and flowering in April. Some change colour dramatically as they age.
Chameleon tulips, which change colour over time, are particularly unusual. Try varieties such as ‘Antoinette’, which opens soft yellow before the petals become edged with an orange tinge which gradually deepens and spreads over most of the petal.
Other new bulbs include Ranunculus ‘Mirabelle Vert Mix’, a striking double variety in a range of vivid colours with emerald green centres and Anemone ‘Mistral Tigre’, a stunning deep pink and green tinged anemone with shades of white and a deep purple middle, flowering from March to May, both from Dobies.