Garden Bulb Types
( ) Well-known early-flowering bulb with greyish leaves. What is not so well known is that they only move well when ‘in the green’, that is in full leaf. Dry take years to flower. Specialist nurseries sell green ; or you could beg a few from a friend with a large clump or two and they will multiply. Good under shrubs as they die down before the shrub leafs out.
Endymion non-scriptus (Bluebell) The true bluebell with narrow deep blue bells. Always let the leaves die down naturally and never cut them off green. The Spanish bluebell is more common with taller stems of more open bells in blue, pink or white. Truerecall an English wood in spring and have a delightful scent.
ficaria ‘Fiona’ (Lesser celandine) This little native woodlander has small tubers and is best bought grown in a pot. The leaves come up very early and are followed by perfect rosettes of buttercup yellow flowers (it is related to buttercups) in spring. Dies down early, so good under a deciduous shrub. ‘Primrose’ is very pale yellow and ‘Cuprea’ is coppery orange. Both are single and grow up to 6 in (15cm) high.
Daffodils There is a very large choice of(all in Latin) but for a smaller garden it is worth choosing the smaller-growing but easy ones which have less foliage to cover up after they have flowered. Leave the foliage until at least mid-June before you cut it off. ‘Charity May’ is pure yellow with swept back petals in April and May. ‘February Gold’ is very easy and in a very mild winter may flower at the end of February. Otherwise it often flowers for six weeks and spreads rapidly. Narrower, slightly less reflexed petals than ‘Charity May’ and a little paler yellow, ‘Jack Snipe’ is a little shorter at 8 in, with a pale yellow cup and white petals. ‘Dove Wings’ is a little darker and a little taller. These are just some of the ones to choose if the big daffodils like ‘King Alfred’ are out of scale.
botryoides (Grape ) Clusters of tubby blue bells on 6 in (15cm) stems in May. ‘Album’ is white and makes a good contrast to the blue. Spreads easily.
turkestanica A nice compact wild species from Central Asia which grows 8 in (20 cm) high and has narrow grey leaves. The white flowers have a green and bronze flush on the outside of the petals. There are many tulip species, much easier to handle than the large flowered ones, in a sunny, well-drained position. A very bright one is Tulipa praestans ‘Fusilier’ with military red flowers on 6 in (15cm) stalks. Of the tall ones ‘Schnoord’ is a good double white used in the Georgian garden.
umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem) A vigorous bulb with starry white flowers on 4 in (10 cm) stems and quite with a central white stripe.
candidum (Madonna ) Loves you or hates you but well worth a try in a dryish, sunny spot. Only just cover the bulb with soil and plant in August. Tall spires of pure white beautifully in May and June. Can grow to 5 ft (1.5 m) if the bulbs are happy.
Gladiolus byzantinus (Hardy) In a sunny well-drained place it will produce ribbed leaves and spikes of screaming magenta flowers in June and fitly. Good for the adventurous. ‘The Bride’ ft a demure white.
neapolitanum hederifolium (Hardy cyclamen) The little 4 in (10 cm) high cyclamen flowers are pink and come in early September. Beautifully marbled leaves follow them and make a wonderful ground cover under a tree or in front of a hedge until they die down in July. They seed themselves when they are happy and white ones often appear. Buy the flat corms in August only if they are nice and firm if you squeeze them, or buy them grown in pots. Plant the corm rounded side down just under the surface of the soil and sprinkle a little compost on top each autumn. They sometimes take time to get established.
speciosus (Autumn flowering ) This is the best crocus for autumn. The Colcicums have crocus-like flowers but big tufts of leaves follow them and can be rather obtrusive in . ‘The blue crocus flowers of C. Speciosus are followed in spring by narrow grassy leaves, with a central white stripe, only 4 in (10 cm) tall. There are masses of other crocus, often called winter or species crocus, that are much more dainty than the later flowering Dutch crocus. They grow 4-6 in (10- 15cm) high and can be chosen by colour. Ideal for the sunny front of a border or shrub group.