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112 Garden design Bulbs


Bulbs* are often simply seen as spring flowering plants. It is undoubtedly true that many are but if carefully chosen, bulbs can actually give year round colour. All you need are the spring and autumn bulb catalogues and a bit of planning. Put simply, bulbs are fun. They


make you smile. Smiling is good for you. Therefore plant loads of bulbs. Don’t get too serious about them. They are like little jewels, use them to enhance your main shrub and herbaceous perennial planting schemes or allow them to naturalise in lawns and under trees. They are not, as some believe, difficult to grow or without longevity. Hybrid tulips certainly do only last for 2 – 3 seasons but the upside of this is that you get to experiment with lots of different colour combinations. The majority of bulbs however, if planted correctly, will reward with years of service. All you need to do is try to replicate the conditions in which they grow naturally. For example tulips come from gritty mountain slopes in central Asia – so give them lots of sun and good drainage. The snake’s head fritillary likes damp water meadows – so make sure the soil they are planted in does not dry out and stays moist. When setting out a planting scheme you always add the bulbs last. This is for two reasons; firstly once the rest of your planting is in place you can see where


by Colette Charsley


to put them for maximum impact and, secondly, they won’t get accidently dug up or have something planted on top of them. Don’t be mean with quantities either. Buy them by the 100, or even 1000. Lots of one colour will look far more effective than lots of lots of colours. Be bold. When you plant them either use containers and pack them in or simply scatter them on the ground and plant them exactly where they land. Do not attempt to re-arrange them – they will look odd if you do.


A year of colour could include:


January/February - Winter aconites, snowdrops, crocus, iris reticulata.


March/april - Species tulips, hybrid tulips, scented Jonquil Narcissi, daffodils, fritillaries.


May/June - More tulips, alliums, anemone nemorosa, eremurus, bluebells.


July/august - C annas, Irises, martagon lilies, dahlias, agapanthus


sept/October - Autumn crocus, kaffir lily, crocosmia, more dahlias


November/December - Nerine bowdenii, cyclamen hederifolium, cyclamen coum.


* For the sake of brevity I am including corms, tubers and rhizomes under the word ‘bulb’.


colette@charsleydesign.com www.charsleydesign.com t: 01803 722449 m: 07774 827799 Follow me on Twitter @ColetteCharsley


Professional Landscape and Garden Design


Creative and beautiful designs for village, town and country gardens


Colette Charsley PG Dip OCGD 01803 722449 07774 827799


colette@charsleydesign.com www.charsleydesign.com


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