A Bulb Lasagna of Hyacinth Gypsy Queen, Tulip Antracite, Tulip Black Hero, Tulip Orange Princess, Tulip Royal Acres
Planting Spring bulbs is my favourite gardening job!
Bulbs are little flower grenades ready to explode and perfect even for the beginner gardener and flower grower.
Everything needed is already in the bulb… all you need to do is choose from the dizzying range available to us here in the UK.
Types of Bulbs
In order to have a season long display rather than one big bonanza, you should plant bulbs with a variety of flowering times.
Miniature Iris herald the beginning of spring , flowering first February – March even popping their heads through the frost and snow.
These will flower next from mid March, after flowering you can plant these in your grass where they will naturalise, spreading gently.
Hyacinths are big bulbs they pack a real flower punch and the scent is intoxicating (as is the bulb, so do wear gloves). If you keep the slugs off them you can expect Hyacinths to be quite perennial.
Planting in pots I’ve found they improve each year but in the ground I tend to lose them. Flowers from late March
Height 15-45cm depending on variety
Narcissi have come a long way and the range is so diverse from the miniature varieties such as Tete-e-tete, the multi headed pure white of Thalia, Bridal Crown or Sir Winston Churchill, both have a thick stem with dense multi headed blooms and for scent you can’t beat narcissus Geranium.
Narcissus varies in height, colour and flowering times so you can have blooms from as early as January all the way through to the end of May.
You should let the foliage die down naturally, don’t tie it or cut it until the leaves turn yellow and your bulbs will double, giving you more than you started with!
The undoubted Queen of the Spring Garden! During the 17th Century Tulip Mania hit with bulbs selling as future investments at astronomical prices. While this craze (Tulip Fever) was short-lived the flowers have remained rightly popular ever since.
Tulip’s originate from the Middle East and the streaks and breaks in the colour are actually as a result of a virus, that has helped make varieties all the more rare and desirable!
Bulbs that are very close to the original Tulips are the most perennial; they tend to be tall, solid in colour and simple in appearance. Flowery goblets! These varieties are Darwin and the early flowering Fosteriana types.
Tulips are further split into Single Early, Double Early, Fringed, Triumph, Single Late, Double Late, Lily Flowered, Parrot Flowered and Viridflora.
I find the best planting combinations are made up from a selection from these groups, giving a variety in form and flowering times from early until late Spring.
Alliums, Anemones and Ranunculus (which are corms), fabulous in their own right, but experience has shown that these should be planted separately.
Flowering from May (outdoors), these beautiful blooms unfurl just as the early bulbs start to look untidy. I prefer at this stage to whisk away my early pots to a place out of sight to die down and bring out fresh pots to replace the view.
I don’t start planting my bulbs before you feel that ‘nip’ in the air and the summer planting starts to collapse.
Mostly because all my beds and planting are still overflowing with autumn gorgeousness but also because Tulips bulbs can suffer with a virus called Tulip Fire.
Clay soils are most at risk from Tulip Fire, being a world away from the silty soils of the middle east……bulbs that sit in warm damp conditions here in the UK can encourage the virus which can then rip through your garden and persist in the soil for 5 years.
Planting after the first frost you will give you some protection as well as a layer of grit into the bottom of planting holes. For the best protection, plant in pots!
This is my favourite way of planting bulbs! You can create a pot that starts blooming in February and will then continue nonstop all the way into May.
- Take a 10L pot
- You can fit in on average, 15 large bulbs plus an early scattering of Iris or Crocus
- Starting at the bottom of the clean pot I add a layer of compost mixed with horticultural grit for drainage.
- Now you are ready for your first layer of your bulb lasagne.
- Place 5 bulbs of your latest flowering bulb…. late flowing Tulip like ‘Queen of the Night’ which is almost black in colour is a firm favourite and always last out of the blocks here at Swan Cottage.
- Give a good covering of compost to bury the bulbs completely, then place 5 bulbs of your mid season choice.
- Another good covering of compost, then place your next 5 bulbs, this time your earliest tulip, daffodil/narcissus or hyacinth bulb. Hyacinth Gypsy Queen I particularly love!
- Your pot is now packed bulbs that will give a fabulous display.
- You can top off with a good scattering of early small bulbs such as Iris or Crocus. For a good looking pot all winter, bedding such as Polyanthus are an excellent choice!
Bulb Lasagna Recipes…
There are so many combinations but here are a couple that are tried and tested recipes;
Hyacinth Gypsy Queen
Tulip La Belle Epoque
Tulip Queen of the Night
For a Larger pot add Ronado and Anthraciet or Negrita
Tulip Exotic Emperor
Tulip Apricot Beauty
For a larger pot add China Pink and Menton for towering late blooms
Red, Purple and Orange look just outstanding together, here we have Tulips Rocco (front), Princess Irene, Havran, Couleur Cardinal and Archie tip toeing through the Tulips!
Remember to water your pots as we head into late Spring, they can dry out quickly and this can make the bulbs fail. I keep a watering can close by.