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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

Small is Beatuiful When it's Bulbs
3 September 2002

Once again it is time to plant spring flowering bulbs. There are plenty to pick from including the familiar, large flowering tulips, daffodils and bluebells. For me it’s the miniatures I welcome in the winter and early spring. They may not be big and showy but make up fo it by providing a riot of colour irrespective of wind, rain or frost.

The snowdrop is among the earliest to flower and quickly spreads to form a carpet. It is best planted in spring after flowering while still in leaf.If you have to buy them now, select plump, firm bulbs and plant them as soon as possible. There are many variet
ies to choose from including those with fully double flowers.

Crocus are great in the garden either in the border or naturalized in the lawn. There are suitable small flowering bulbs for growing in the rock garden and in alpine troughs. The poor, gritty, rockery soil provides ideal growing conditions. A layer of coarse grit on the surface will
deter slugs.

Crocus Minimus Bulbs make excellent companion plants in shade. Cyclamen hederifolium, anemones, fritillaries and trilliums all prefer cool woodland conditions. Work some leaf mould or peat into the top few inches and they will quickly colonize large patches under trees. Surely the herbaceous border must be the most sorry looking sight in the garden in February and early March. At best it is tidy but with no evidence of emerging new growth. It only takes a few clumps of crocus, snowdrops or anemone blanda to add sparkle with the promise of more to come.
There are species which prefer moist soil conditions, others demand a well drained site. There are very few spring bulbs which can tolerate wet, waterlogged ground.

A good general rule is to plant at a depth approximately two and a half times the height of the bulb. Setting them on a bed of sand or grit will help prevent the bulb rotting. Crocus, snowdrops, dwarf iris and scillas make a better display if planted in groups using at least 8-10 of the same variety together.

When naturalising in short grass simply remove the sod,loosen the soil with a fork. Scatter the bulbs planting them where they have fallen. Add some bone meal and replace the sod. Water the grass for a few days to help it recover and reroot.

Anemone nemorosaMy favourites? Cyclamen coum and C.hederifolium, Fritillaria meleagris, F.michailovskya, Iris danfordiae and Anemone nemorosa.

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