BRIAN KIDD: Miniature bulbs to welcome spring
We have been buying a few bulbs each week, but not planting them yet because the garden still looks beautiful thanks to the regular removal of dead flowers.
The welcome recent sunshine has transformed the flower border; it’s really attractive, and almost as good as it was in July.
I thought it might be a good idea to suggest planting bulbs in pots and have in mind planting miniature bulbs which would brighten up an outdoor windowsill if you don’t have a garden.
Everyone loves snowdrops and we found a pack of 25 bulbs for £3.99.
If they are planted directly into the garden the birds will disturb them, the squirrels will eat them and only a few will survive, so normally we would buy them ‘in the green’ in winter.
However, if they are planted now in clay pots, five around the edge of the pot, inserting the bulbs so there is an inch of compost over the tips of each bulb, they will come into flower in February.
On a windowsill, it’s best to use John Innes No2 compost in clay pots because the pots will be heavier than the plastic variety and the wind won’t blow them off.
Another little gem for tiny spaces is chionodoxa, often called Glory of the Snow. This has a flower-like star and there are blue or pink varieties.
If you like something no- one else has, try the pink variety – five around the edge of a five-inch diameter pot. They flower in March.
Scilla is another little star, nodding blue flowers make the plant appear to be shy. The colour of the flower is enhanced by spreading silver sand over the surface of the compost. This intensifies the dark blue flower colour – a little trick shown to me when I was an apprentice gardener.
These are best grown in five-inch half pots with silver sand over the surface.
Iris reticulata is another delight. This time, take a look at the picture on the front of the pack and see if you would prefer the light blue, mid-blue or perhaps you will be able to find the variety Cantab which is a pale blue with lighter centre and just a touch of yellow.
If you are fond of daffodils and live in a windy spot, plant short varieties.
Tete a Tete has several blooms on each stem and is brilliant when planted leaving only half an inch between bulbs. Or, if short of space, plant them in two layers in a container.
Use a piece of broken clay pot over each hole in the base; use John Innes No2 compost; put in a four-inch layer of compost, then a layer of bulbs, cover them with compost so there is a two-inch layer of compost over the tops then plant another batch of the same variety. When they flower in spring, the container will be a riot of colour.
Don’t plant mixed, try Tete a Tete and you will be delighted.
TIP OF THE WEEK
If your grape hyacinths have become small don’t despise them, dig them all out, now. Spread the bulbs on a piece of carpet and find the large ones. Re-plant in a new place scattering on Vitax Q4 fertiliser where they are to be planted. Rake it in. Replant the bulbs and the flowers will be large next spring.