It is heartening that just when the clocks go back and the nights draw in the focus in the garden is on next Spring. October is the time when everything you do in the garden is done with the confidence that winter will pass and spring will come – the bulbs you’ve planted will bloom, the shrubs you’ve moved will thrive, the beds you’ve tidied up, rearranged and planted out with spring bedding will delight. It is a time of anticipation and endless possibilities and nothing encapsulates it better than the bulb.
Why choose bulbs?
Bulbs are some of the easiest garden plants to grow and left undisturbed will multiply from year to year. With so much choice it is worth being selective about the exact variety you choose and a bulb catalogue is one of the quiet pleasures of late summer. If your garden is popular with squirrels it’s best to choose animal-resistant bulbs like daffodils and alliums or risk having your tulips and crocuses dug up as an expensive winter snack. And most importantly choose the right variety of bulb for the right place: for instance, if your garden is very exposed, Tulip ‘Annie Schilder’ is a strong and weather resistant tulip with the added bonus of fragrance and if your garden is in partial shade you can grow the beautiful Allium Siculum (Nectaroscordum) even if you can’t grown any of the other alliums which need full sun.
How to plant bulbs
Once you have decided on the variety, choose bulbs that are healthy and firm with strong growing points and no soft areas, plant them at least three time their own depth and two to three bulb widths apart in well drained soil, in waterlogged soil they will rot. If you are putting them in a flower bed, it helps to mark where you’ve planted them with a stick so you don’t dig them up again in an absent minded moment. Bulbs have to be left to die down after they have flowered so unless you are going to lift them consider what you will plant next to them to take over once they have bloomed and to distract from the browning foliage.