What you can achieve with spring flowering bulbs

What you can achieve with spring flowering bulbs

If you want to welcome spring into your garden with an explosion of colour and life, you need to plan and plant for it in autumn time. Here’s our guide to what you can achieve with spring flowering bulbs.

Types of spring flowering bulbs

Before you start thinking about planting your spring flowering bulbs, I would strongly advise you to look online at the huge range of plants that are available. Garden centres are great, but in my experience, they don’t stock a wide range of bulbs…..just a tried and tested selection of favourites.

Believe me, there are more choices out there than just tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths.

pale blue and white flowers of chionadoxa

Chionodoxa has several variations. All of them have wide open flowers (great for bees!) and most are in shades of blue or white. Flowers open in February and March

Have you thought for example about Chionodoxa? Pretty star-shaped low growing flowers that bloom in early spring. They’re great for pots and planters and look lovely with the bare stems of cornus or other deciduous shrubs.

Or what about Iris? A lovely old fashioned flower with lots of variations.

For really early flowers, choose Iris Danfordiae – bright yellow blooms that in January and February that are guaranteed to drive away the winter blues.

Anenomes grow from bulbs and are splendid in pots, especially Anemone blanda whose bright white flowers would make an elegant display either side of a front door.

Of course, I won’t ever dismiss daffodils and tulips. Either are easy to grow and they make great cut flowers for the house. Why not take a look at the different colour combinations that are available and plan a spectacular display?

The parrot tulips are particularly flamboyant and some of the double-flowered tulips are gorgeous in flower arrangements.

If wildlife gardening is important to you, aim for spring flowers with lots of easily accessible pollen and nectar to sustain early flying bees. I’ve notice that crocus is a particular favourite with bumblebees and they also seem to favour Muscari (grape hyacinth).

Choosing your Colour Schemes

The colours you choose for your garden say a lot about your personality and style. When I’m designing a garden or a planting plan, I do try to use colour to convey the look and feel that most suits an individual client and in my experience, people do tend to be drawn to the colours that match the way they see themselves.

Red for example, is associated with strength, courage and power. In China it symbolises luck and prosperity.

Yellow is often associated with spring flowering bulbs. It invokes feelings of enthusiasm, happiness and positivity.

Blues are for calm and tranquillity, whites for purity, simplicity and minimalism, pinks are playful and compassionate, orange is for fun, freedom and optimism.

Will you have bold swathes of a single colour? will you mix and match different shades? Or are you going to aim for a cacophony of colours?

Look carefully at when each type of spring bulb is expected to bloom. With careful planning, you could have a continuation of colour from January right through to the summer.

colourful display of tulips and wallflowers surrounded by box hedging with a central stone urn

Rich burgundy coloured tulips have been planting among gold coloured wallflowers for an eye-catching display at Helmingham Hall Gardens in Suffolk

Indoor blooms

When it’s cold outside and the days are short, I really appreciate the value of a bunch of fresh flowers indoors. I’m not too sure though on the ethics of importing hot house flowers from abroad. I’d much rather grow my own if possible.

Some spring flowering bulbs can be planted in containers in autumn, ready to bring indoors in time for Christmas blooms.

Hyacinths are a classic example. My Mum used to grow them in special hyacinth glasses where you could see the root system developing.

“Paperwhite” narcissi are another example of bulbs for indoor display. The scent is divine and it will perfume a whole room – plus, it’s much nicer than chemical air freshers!

For spring posies, plant bulbs whose flowers will have lovely long stems. It’s simply a matter of reading the description before you pop the bulbs into your basket. If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse or polytunnel, you can grow the bulbs indoors for some early cut flowers (and to protect the flowers from strong winds)

Spring flowering bulbs for pots and planters

arrangement of spring flowering bulbs in teracotta pots

The one thing I struggle with when it comes to spring flowering bulbs is that once the flowers have finished you’re left with straggly foliage that doesn’t look nice. If you want the bulbs to flower again next year, its crucial that you don’t cut off the leaves until they are completely dead. The bulb reabsorbs all of the nutrients in order to ensure its survival.

My go-to method of avoiding all of those straggly bits, is to plant spring flowering bulbs in containers. When the flowers are done, you can move the pots to a quiet corner of the garden where they won’t spoil the view. Replace the containers with something more jolly.

Naturalised flowers in the lawn

If you have a large lawn or an orchard, you might like to try naturalising some bulbs. This works particularly well with snowdrops, crocus, daffodils and fritillaries. Just bear in mind that you will not be able to mow the grass until the bulb foliage has died back (usually around June). If you are a fan of wildflower meadow type planting, then under-planting with bulbs will extend the flowering period.

Some bulb retailers have a range of UK native wildflower bulbs. I’m intrigued by wild garlic bulbs. I’ve never yet used them in a garden but I think I might do a test patch this year – I rather like the idea of growing something that I can cook with!

wild garlic flowers and foliage carpeting a woodland floor

Wild garlic likes to live in cool, damp, shaded places. If you have somewhere in your garden where other plants are reluctant to grow, why not naturalise some wild garlic bulbs?

Help to design your spring flowering scheme

If you are at a loss as to which species of spring flowering bulb to choose and where to plant them, the Tapestry Design Studios Team are here to help you with design ideas.

Our planting plans can include spring flowering bulbs mixed with shrubs, trees and herbaceous perennials for an all year round display of flowers and foliage.

Get in touch today for more information.

More gardening jobs for autumn time

Reviewing the garden year and planning improvements for next year 

Planning ahead for spring colour in the garden

Autumn is hedge planting season – some ideas for creating boundaries in your garden 


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