Whether we care to admit it or not winter is getting nearer and now is the time we should be planting in order to enjoy the sheer pleasure that next year’s spring flowers will bring.
Bulbs are one of nature’s miracles – just think that packed into a single small, unpromising looking bulb is everything needed for a future display of beautiful and, if you choose well, scented flowers. And they aren’t just for spring flowers, they can provide all that is needed to help create a variety of brilliant displays all year round. To ensure a splash of early spring colour plant crocus, daffodils and narcissi now although the later flowering iris, tulips and alliums should be left until late October or early November.
Your favourite garden centre will stock a wide selection of bulbs and to get the healthiest and largest specimens buy them as soon as possible, bearing in mind that it can be better to buy one good bulb rather than several cheaper ones. Choose carefully and reject any bulbs that show signs of damage or mould, any that are shrivelled as these are probably dry, or any that are beginning to shoot as this is a sign that they have been on sale for some time and will have used some of their stored nutrients. Sometimes they come ready packaged in bags or boxes and these have the advantage of being less vulnerable to rough handling but on the downside the packaging can make it difficult to see any bulbs that are damaged or pre-sprouting. If you have a sensitive skin, or even just to be on the safe side, wear gloves when picking over bulbs, particularly hyacinth and tulips. Most garden centres provide disposable plastic gloves so it makes sense to use them.
There are usually lots of bargains around but I have always found it’s it best to go for quantity discount from a reputable supplier as opposed to cheap offers.