Brian Kidd’s top tips for planting bulbs

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October and November are very good months for planting daffodils and narcissus in the garden.

October and November are very good months for planting daffodils and narcissus in the garden.

If you are like us you wait until the summer plants have been frosted because there aren’t any vacant spots to plant the bulbs until then.

They are very good value for money and if the job is done well you should enjoy seeing the flowers in spring for a number of years to come, particularly if you can leave them in an area where they may naturalise.

If bulbs are taken out of the ground and allowed to dry off during the summer, the blooms are not so good the following year and if the practice continues, eventually you have no flowers at all.

They are not really fussy, so find a spot which has lots of light for most of the day, although partial shade will not be a problem.

If you regularly read the gardening features in The News, you will know that I rarely recommend mixed plantings, and this is certainly something I would avoid when choosing bulbs. If you plant mixed, they are cheaper of course, but the problem is that the early flowers die off leaving all the dead blooms behind.

You then have the main show of blooms spoiled by the dead flowers and when the later ones appear, the whole effect is ruined by the brown flowers of all the others.

What would you recommend then? Select bulbs which have names, look out for Rembrandt as one of the boldest daffodils and plant another variety next to it. See if you can find Sempre Avanti which is a wonderful narcissus – it has white petals with an orange circular centre. If you enjoy fragrance, then look for the narcissus called Geranium.

There are several white flowers on each stem but the orange circle in the centre looks lovely.

If you have shrubs, then a group of daffs or narcissus planted around the shrubs will mean they are out of the way when it comes to doing the digging and the spring effect is admirable.

The planting depth is important. If bulbs are planted too shallow, the blooms fail to open properly, the same applies if the bulbs are planted too late.

Plant so that there is a covering of two or three inches of soil over the top of each of the bulbs. If the soil is very heavy, then half a handful of sharp sand under each of them will help.

There’s no need to add any fertiliser to the soil. If you want to feed the bulbs, wait until they are in flower, the soil will then be warmer and the bulbs will absorb the food.

Bulbs are miraculous wonders of creation because the blooms are already in the bulb, so all we need is light, water, air and the soil is there to stop them falling over really, have you ever given that some thought? If the bulbs in your garden looked poor last year and the leaves were all streaky and brown, this was possibly due to narcissus bulb fly which lays eggs in the bulbs just as the foliage is starting to die back.

If this was the case, then dig them out and and start afresh. A dusting of Doff Ant powder all around the bases of the bulbs next spring will keep the narcissus fly at bay.

Tips of the week

Have you got a couple of parsley and thyme plants?

They can be grown on a

window ledge, balcony or in a very small space in the garden. Can you remember what home made stuffing tastes like?

Dare I say it?

Christmas isn’t far away.