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The time is now...planting tips for your favourite flowering bulbs

Plant bulbs from November to guarantee lots of early colour in your garden in spring.

As autumn creeps in I take some time out to plan my bulb combinations for spring. There is an abundance of colour and combinations to choose from and some simple planning will guarantee a beautiful display.

I have plenty of existing perennial bulbs in my garden. They are scattered in naturalistic groupings through my borders and they return year on year, requiring minimal maintenance. Despite this, I can't resist adding new bulbs and planting up a few pots too. All in aid of brightening up the dark days of late winter and early spring. Early next year, as the daylight hours start to lengthen, I will wait excitedly for the first tentative hint of growth. Once I spot these I know that the scattered bursts of colour won't be far behind.

I use Spring flowering bulbs to create interest in my garden over a long period of time. They often emerge when not much else appears to be happening. Bulbs are also an easy way to increase diversity in your garden and are often a useful food source to early appearing bees and other insects too.

To create a continuous display, start with pure white snowdrops and bold groups of yellow and white daffodils. Merge these with brightly coloured crocus and the pastel shades of woodland anemones scattered across a lawn or along the front of a sunny border. Move on to bright blue and pure white grape hyacinth and a few stately Camassia planted among bright tulip bursts and bold, purple allium globes.

Best bulbs for early interest

Snowdrop flowers in a garden in Gloucestershire

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Beautiful, dainty, nodding white bells. Snowdrops are a welcome site in the chill of January and February. They are a useful early forage for bees and look stunning when planted en-masse across a woodland floor.

In my own garden I've dotted them through the borders. Under deciduous trees and shrubs where they are slowly naturalising.

Purple Anemone blanda in a garden in Cheltenham

Winter windflower (Anemone blanda)

Beautiful purple and white daisy like flowers appear above deeply cut, dark green foliage. Low growing and forming a spreading carpet, these flowers definitely bring a cheer to a grey winters day. Plant in dappled shade or full sun at the front of a border.

Best bulbs for bright splashes of colour (in pots too)

What's not to love about a tulip? Sometimes garish, sometimes quietly muted, tulips add decadence to a garden. I love to scatter them naturally through a garden border where newly emerging foliage provides a lush backdrop and sets off the flower colour. I spend hours choosing the perfect combinations for pots, knowing that handfuls of stems can also be collected for indoor displays too.

Best bulbs for wildlife

Flowering from February and into March, Crocus add a bright early splash of colour to the garden and look amazing when allowed to naturalise in a lawn. I scatter them along the front of borders, in a sunny position where bumblebees and other insects enjoy them too.

Bumblebee in a purple allium flower in a wildlife garden

There is nothing lovelier to watch on a cool spring day than a collection of bumblebees and other insects busily foraging on an allium's large rounded flower. The large, purple globes are made up of hundreds of individual flower spikes, each of which provides a bounty of pollen for visiting insects. They also look fabulous dotted through a garden border. They are an excellent cut flower and look stunning when dried too.


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