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