Naturalising Flowering Bulbs for Stunning Results

Great interest and pleasure can be obtained from bulbs growing naturally in an informal manner. Although it is easier to produce a more effective display where considerable space is available, satisfactory results can be achieved where only a small area is involved. Patches of a few dozen bulbs will give a striking display as is often seen with bluebells under trees, hardy cyclamen around trees and shrubs, crocuses and anemones on grassy banks and the smaller-growing narcissi and tulips in shrubberies and in grassed-down orchards.

One advantage of growing bulbs in this way is that they can be left undisturbed for many years. Some gardeners split up the clumps every five or six years but this is not necessary as long as growth remains healthy. Possibly the size of the flowers may decrease but this is not usually important, especially since the actual number of blooms produced normally increases. The natural increase of bulbs planted in this way usually means that the shapes of the clumps vary, resulting in drifts of colour giving a magnificent display.

Bulbs to be naturalised should not be planted in rows or specially shaped groups. The usual method is to scatter the bulbs and plant them just where they fall. In this way a natural informal effect is secured.

Take a good look at your garden and you will surely find many more sites where you can provide colour and beauty. While naturalised bulbs require a minimum of care, do treat them as valued permanent residents of the garden. It is essential that the soil they are planted in is deep, fertile and well drained. Bulbs must be planted at the correct depths, using a spade, trowel or bulb planter.

When planting in lawns, lift sections of the turf, work over the soil, mix in a little humus and also some bonemeal at the rate of 2 oz. to the sq. yd, then scatter the bulbs on top and plant before replacing the turf. If you use a bulb planter, make sure the soil is loose and in firm contact all round the bulbs.

All naturalised bulbs will benefit from an annual application of bonemeal or complete fertiliser at the rate of 2 oz. per sq. yd. Those naturalised in grassy places under trees and shrubs can be helped by an application of peat or leafmould while they are dormant.

Naturalised bulbs will go on for years, multiplying and creating new garden pictures. If, after a number of years, they do become overcrowded, lift the bulbs after the foliage has died down, separate, sort for size and store the bigger bulbs for replanting at the appropriate time.

Many bulbs grow quite happily in grass such as banks and slopes, rough areas and woodland glades, but do not plant them in a lawn which has to be mown. The following season’s flowers depend on the foliage being allowed to die down naturally and if the leaves are cut off while still green, the growing and flowering cycle will be interrupted.

Where possible there is much to be said for naturalising particular bulbs to fit in with the surroundings. For instance yellow daffodils look well growing near the white-stemmed birches. Crocuses in white, yellow, blue or striped create attention when growing in quantity in the orchard, at approaches to woodlands and under large trees.



When naturalising bulbs in dozens rather than hundreds, it is wise to relate them closely to an important shrub, tree or evergreen. Place bright yellow Winter Aconites beneath the winter-bronzed foliage of a mahonia, or snowdrops can be scattered in groups in the shelter of evergreen shrubs. Use blue muscari under bright and pretty yellow forsythias or around chaenomeles. Colonies of blue or white chionodoxas are most effective near azaleas or beneath magnolias. Carpet the ground under Viburnum fragrans or cotoneasters with the lovely blue Scilla sibirica or the white form alba.

Combine your naturalised daffodils with pastel grey-blue Puschkinia libanotica, Muscari armeniacum, or Chionodoxa luciliae, or naturalise them under flowering cherries, dogwoods and light-foliaged trees of all kinds. If you have a rather moist and partially shaded area try naturalising camassias there. Their bright blue flowers do well in grass and at approaches to woodlands. The common bluebell, Scilla nutans, multiplies rapidly when naturalised in woody areas. Colonies of Fritillaria meleagris, with their mottled flowers, look delightful under the spreading branches of cotoneasters or in grass.

The pink, blue and white blooms of Anemone blanda or the blue flowers of A. apennina produce endless colour in partially shaded positions. Chionodoxa sardensis is the first really blue flower of the year.

Generally speaking, tulips are not suitable for naturalisation but some of the species tulips do very well when planted in this way. The rose-red and creamy-white Tulipa clusiana looks lovely naturalised under flowering trees such as cherry and crataegus. The whole group of Kaufmanniana hybrid tulips in a wide range of bright colours will naturalise effectively. Colonies of the lovely little T. tarda planted in sunny positions look superb.

Valuable for massing and naturalising are the Spring Snowflakes, Leucojum vernum, producing little white bells tipped with green from early February onwards. Dwarf ornithogalums can be planted at random in shady positions near shrubs and hedges and naturalised in places where few other bulbs will flourish. Olnithogalum nutans bears silvery-grey and pale green flowers on 9-in. stems in March whilst 0. umbellatum, the Star of Bethlehem, yields delightful white flowers on 10-in. stems in May.

Erythroniums in white, yellow or with pink or purple markings look well in sheltered areas. A few lilies can be naturalised. Try some of the lovely Mid Century group in grass in the wild garden where they can catch the morning sun. They flower in June — July. The August-flowering Lilium tigrinum will flower profusely year after year when naturalised.

Autumn-flowering crocuses can be naturalised in the rock garden and colchicums, if planted in grass under tall trees in dry exposed parts of the garden, will flower profusely each year. The yellow crocus-like flowers of Sternbergia lutea are very effective on grassy banks and slopes and once established bring colour to the October garden.

Hardy cyclamen are most easily grown and will thrive in shady positions under trees or on a hedge bank. Plant from July onwards covering the corms with 2 to 3 in. of soil. Among the best species is Cyclamen neapolitanum with rose-pink flowers appearing in autumn before the silvery-mottled foliage develops. C. europaeum also produces its sweetly scented carmine-rose flowers in autumn. C. repandum blooms in April and May, its crimson flowers being well set off by the handsome mottled foliage.

07. July 2011 by admin
Categories: Bulbs and Corms, Flower Beds & Borders, Gardening Ideas, Plants | Tags: , | Comments Off on Naturalising Flowering Bulbs for Stunning Results


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