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Bulbs, beautiful colour and bright ideas

Bulbs, beautiful colour and bright ideas!

By Tanya Visser

March is definitely a great time to garden, and right I’m not giving you any more clues as to what I’m covering in this article because you’ve simply got to read it all!

Tried and trusted
Its bulb time! Don’t miss out! One minute you’ll see them for sale and then, on your next visit, when you’ve finally decided what you want, all you find is empty shelves because every single one has been sold and, alas, there will be no more this season. Bulb season works like that; there are limited quantities and a limited time in which they are available. So don’t get left in the dust! Here are some of my all-time-favourites; they always work so well in my garden (with minimum fuss), they evoke memories of my childhood and their beauty never ceases to amaze me.

The ranunculus as we know it today is probably one of the greatest success stories in the history of plant breeding. The blooms of this versatile plant rival roses and peonies for their sheer beauty and the profusion in which they are borne. They are easy to grow, make superb cut flowers, bloom when there is little other colour available and can be planted almost anywhere. Plus they’re not expensive! Buy your ranunculus bulbs when they appear on the shelves (generally near the end of February) and store them at room temperature, then plant them out during April or May. They respond to cool, moist weather.

Indigenous freesias are a favourite because they offer three excellent qualities: flower power, heavenly scent and ease of growth. They come in a wide variety of colours and the glorious scent that they exude will sweeten any room. Grown in light dappled sunlight or semi-shade, they lend a delightful fragrance to spring evenings, especially if they are grown in a courtyard where their scent can be ‘trapped’ for your pleasure.

‘Paper White’ Narcissus
‘Paper Whites’ produce masses of scented white blooms very early in the season – usually in late June. They are so tough they will even grow if they are placed on a pebble-filled bowl of water. If you have any youngsters in the house, this is an excellent way to show them how wondrous Mother Nature is. For the next couple of months you and your family can watch enthralled as first the roots, then the stems and finally the spikes of pretty flowers emerge from the bulbs.

Try this

                         Layering bulbs in pots is a great method of planting them; it gives such a beautiful end product.
• Take a large terracotta pot and put in a layer of crocks or drainage material, followed by potting soil – fill the container to about three quarters.
• Place a selection of your largest bulbs in the container – I used Dutch irises. One can mix the layers, so you could add narcissus and hyacinths at this stage. Position the bulbs so that they are touching each other but not touching the inside walls of the pot.
• Cover this layer of bulbs with about 10 to 15 cm of potting soil.
• Now position your smaller bulbs, such as muscari and freesia.
• Cover them with another layer of soil and then a thick layer of mulch – bark chips, coir chips, leaf mould or even peanut shells. If you prefer you could plant ‘living mulch’ in the form of violas, pansies or alyssum.
• Lastly, give the pot a good watering, and then water it regularly. First the leaves will work their way to the surface and the blooms will follow, resulting in a truly magical living bulb bouquet!

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