Spring bulbs: 15 minutes work will give you so much joy
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Instead of panic-buying fuel and toilet rolls this week, I've been accruing different varieties of spring-flowering bulbs so that I can have a good amount of cheerful colour in about four months' time when I'm in greater need of it.
In terms of gardening skill and effort required, this requires virtually just the ability to fill a pot with soil, which most four year olds can, and love, to do.
There is also a bit of magic at work here in that if you layer some bulbs on top of each other you will get a steady succession of flowers over a few months rather than, say just a scattering of daffodils that might be over in two weeks.
Choose a fairly deep pot because you are going to have to cover three layers of bulbs and daffodil bulbs can be as big as small onions.
You could also try tulip bulbs on the base of the pot.
Start with a layer of compost then sit the daffodil bulbs on that with the pointy end facing the sky.
When choosing daffodils at the garden centre, check out when they flower as they have a wide ranging season from December to late April when pheasants' eye daffodils come out.
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These are often better in a pot, certainly in my house where they are planted on the lawn and regularly mown down by my wife before flowering.
I’ll need to move them to a border in the next few weeks to avoid the same fate next April.
In addition, the bigger the bulb, the healthier the plant will generally be.
When they are covered over you can plant a smaller sized bulb like a ‘Tete a tete’ daffodil or even a dwarf iris bulb like ‘reticulata’ or ‘pumula’.
Cover these with more compost and then finish off with an even smaller bulb like crocuses that don’t need to be covered over too much. You could also use muscari and hyacinths.
You can then leave it somewhere where you can watch all the bulbs poke their shiny green leaves through the soil and eventually give you a bright uplifting display starting in that period around February when you’re ready for even the tiniest assurance that spring has arrived.
Once you've assembled everything at home it will take you around 15 minutes per pot which you can then leave somewhere to soak up the winter rain.
The beauty of this is that each bulb contains all the nutrients it will ever need to push up through the soil and make your day so much more exciting.
It's worth bearing in mind what colour scheme you want when the pot is in full flower.
I normally go for yellow and blue flowers and usually put some snowdrops in somewhere as well.
I tend to leave it at that, but many gardeners will go the extra mile and plant winter pansies on top in order to give some much-needed colour over winter.
If you are choosing tulips, then I’d wait until around November to plant them as they like the cold and damp.
This technique is fabulous for minimum effort for maximum output.
Literally 15 minutes work will give you so much joy from the moment they re-appear up through the compost.
If you didn't want to plant them in a pot in this way, simply dig a hole three times the depth of then bulb in the garden with a trowel and they will give you the same display year after year.
They will soon become firm friends popping their cheery heads through the door to tell you winter is over and it's spring again.
If like me, you can enjoy all winter has to offer, watching bulbs come through is in the same bracket as roast dinners, geese flying over and, of course, log fires.