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Alphabet of Spring-flowering Bulbs

Anemones belong to the early-flowering, bulbous plants. With their soft colouring, they look wonderful under a tree or shrub which is just beginning to grow in the spring. They are planted in the autumn and over the years they will form a splendid carpet of flowers.

lue Grape hyacinth
Almost everyone knows the lovely blue grape hyacinth; the first flowers appear above the ground at the beginning of April. The white type and the double species 'Blue Spike', are, however, less well known. Grape hyacinths are fantastic garden plants, but are also suitable for use as cut flowers. This would seem to justify planting a patch of them in an unused corner of the garden.

rocus in mass plantings
Very few early-flowering bulbous, tuberous and cormous plants are so massively planted as the Crocus. The effect of crocuses is especially beautiful when they are planted in large numbers. For a massive effect, 100 to 150 corms should be planted. One important growing condition is that crocuses must have a well-drained soil.

epth of planting
A basic rule is to plant at least twice as deep as the height of the bulb with a minimum depth of 3 inches or about 8 cm. Too shallow planting leads to poor, incomplete root development and short scrawny plants. Shallow planting also increases the risk of frost damage. Planting too deeply increases the chances of the bulb rotting and also weakens the growth considerably as it pushes upwards.

nergy by fertilising
The main requirement for bulb flowers in the post-bloom period is to leave the leaves alone so the plant can put its energy into "recharging" its bulb for next spring's performance. This "energy charge" is gained through photosynthesis as the plant uses the sun's energy to turn basic elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium into food. This food is stored in the bulb's "scales," the white fleshy part of the bulb, for use next spring.

The genus, Fritillaria consists of almost 100 species. All of these are found in the northern hemisphere, with the main habitats being the areas around the Mediterranean. Only a limited number are being cultivated, but interest in this genus is very much on the rise.

ardens with bulbs
Nothing announces the arrival of spring better than the appearance of the first snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and tulips. Canadians from coast to coast consider spring bulbs a garden 'must have'.

arvest time
Harvest time or the autumn is the ideal time to plant crocuses, narcissus, tulips and other spring-flowering bulbous plants. It is amazing to see such splendid flowers appear from these apparently dry bulbs, every year.

ris reticulata
I. reticulata are especially appropriate for use in rock gardens. Naturalising is possible. One drawback is that they develop many leaves during the flowering stage, diminishing an otherwise dramatic appearance.

ack Snipe, Peeping Tom and Minnow
Jack Snipe, Peeping Tom and Minnow are small-flowered types of narcissus which bloom extremely early in the season. In early January they are also offered for sale as potted plants.

indly fritillary
The checkered fritillary is a bulbous plant which also grows wild in some parts of the Netherlands. Fritillaria meleagris is its Latin name. It only reaches a height of 25 cm and blooms in May.

asagne plantings
For large, concentrated displays that bloom "in waves" all spring, plant in layers like lasagne. Place late-blooming bulbs in the lowest layers (where it's coolest), early-blooming bulbs up top.

any years of flowers
The Dutch expression 'Meerdere jaren bloei' (several years of flowering) is a term used by bulb growers to indicate that a bulbous plant does not have to be removed from the ground after flowering. It is also known as naturalization, principally because the bulb, once planted, will multiply and increase in number. Narcissus bulbs are a good example of this. In a few years, a group can spread to form a wonderful carpet of flowers, provided they are planted in a sunny spot.

atural colours
"Natural colours" are very popular at the moment. The tulip, 'Spring Green', shows these "natural colours" well. The green-white flowers look tremendous in a green environment. Tulips, too, can provide a natural atmosphere when combined with foliage plants, but also with flowering perennials, such as this white Dutchman's britches or Dicentra spectabilis.

range and yellow
Orange and yellow are spring colours. They are cheerful and fresh tints which are associated with the light green of young leaves as they open.

astel tints
Pastel-coloured flowers such as the lilac tulip, 'Lilac Beauty' are a fairly new phenomenon in flower-bulb land. Interest in these softer colours and the availability of flower bulbs with pastel-coloured flowers has been growing steadily in recent years.

ueen of the Night
'Queen of the Night' is the name of the darkest tulip that exists. It is sold as a "black" tulip, but if examined carefully, it becomes apparent that it is actually dark purple.

ough effects
Rough effects can be achieved by, for example, planting large-flowered tulips in close groups. They produce surprising results if placed under a shrub. We can achieve very unusual results in the spring even in places where little else will grow. Once the shrub is in leaf, it hides the tulip leaves which will need a little time to die off completely.

Snowdrops are the first harbingers of spring in the garden. If the winter is mild, they will sometimes flower as early as March. The tiny flowers are only noticeable if they are planted in a rather larger group, and preferably against a dark background such as ivy.

The tulip is the national symbol of the Netherlands with which the country has become famous, particularly abroad. The assortment of tulips that is available at the moment is enormous, and still growing. That the tulip can be used as pot plant is not that well known. They can be planted in pots at home, but if you do not want to try this so-called "home forcing", you can also buy "prepared" bulbs in pots. Tulips in pots don't last as long as those in the ground, but they do last longer than those in the vase.

Spring-blooming bulbous plants are those such as tulip and grape hyacinth, which are planted in the autumn and flower in the early spring. These are unlike the summer-flowering bulbous plants, such as this Oxalis or wood sorrel, which must be planted when the spring-blooming flowers are over, and which flower from July till late in the autumn. We can enjoy bulbs in the garden the whole year round if we plant spring- and autumn-flowering types.

iridiflora tulips
Viridiflora tulips are unusual because of the green flame on the outside of the flower, for example on the late-flowering T 'Groenland', often sold in Canada as T. 'Greenland'.

onderfully lush
The smaller bulbous plants such as anemones and grape hyacinths are wonderfully lush in the early spring, as is Oxalis a little later in the season. In order to achieve this luxurious effect the bulbs must be planted in the correct manner: scatter them on the ground and plant them where they fall.

Xerxes is the name of the small-flowered Tazetta narcissus, the descendants of which are cultivated in pots nowadays. It is a sort which can be placed on the windowsill very early in the season.

T. 'Yokohama' is a well-known, early-flowering tulip, the colour of which is yellow. It is highly suitable for planting in and among an evergreen creeper such as ivy.

odiac colours
Colours match you zodiac sign, according to German-born astrologer, Ruth Zucker. A fun test to do with your relatives and friends.




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