Planting Bulbs In The ‘Natural Way’

Most gardens have a patch of lawn, even if they are not very big, providing a chance to plant bulbs in what is called the ‘natural way’. This means, quite simply, letting the bulbs grow through the grass, and this is especially effective around the base of deciduous trees. The canopy of leaves will not yet have emerged, which means that sunlight and moisture will still be able to reach the ground beneath the crown.

The area can then be filled with just one sort of bulb such as Narcissus ‘February Gold’ or a massed planting of, say, scillas or chionodoxas. Once planted, you can leave them to take care of themselves for years on end, and the effect, without fail, works every time. They will multiply freely, only needing occasional dividing if they become too congested.

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When planting the bulbs, make sure you allow plenty of space for them to spread. The best way to achieve a natural. non-contrived look is to take a handful of bulbs and freely scatter them on the ground, then plant them where they fall. To plant in a lawn, you can either dig individual holes for each bulb or pull back a strip of lawn for several bulbs.

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The former involves using a trowel, or a bulb planter that pulls out a plug of earth. Fork up and loosen the base of the hole, pop in the bulb and cover. When removing a strip of lawn, slice through the ground with a spade on three sides of a square, and then roll it back. In both cases it is absolutely vital that you use vigorous, quick spreading bulbs such as Crocus tommasinianus that can compete with the tough grass.

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Scillas

If the grass is quite fine, then you should have no problems using less vigorous bulbs. You can cheat and get a longer show of naturalized flowers by planting several bulbs at a slightly deeper depth than normal.

Colorful ideas

Use fresh yellow in spring, but do not overdo it. There is a wide range of other colors. For example, scented hyacinths come in white, blue, pink and crimson, primroses in just about every shade you can think of, and daffodils in white, pink, orange and marmalade. Keep schemes lively and varied.

narcissus

Narcissus

It is also vital that the color schemes, no matter how beautiful, combine well with the adjoining arrangement. A sensational foreground show of gentle pinks will immediately lose its impact if planted under a cherry tree with a great aerial display of pink blossom. Choosing the right color means being able to set it off against colors that will highlight your planting scheme and not diminish it.

polyanthus

Polyanthus

For strength and warmth of color, plant the brighter, richer-colored tulips and grape hyacinths among vibrant red, orange or blue polyanthus primroses or amid the blues and purples of violas and pansies. Plan the borders in fall and reap the rewards in spring. The results will be well worth the care taken over planning.

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