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Bulbs, beautiful colour and bright ideas!

Tried and Trusted Bulbs

March is a great time to garden because its time for bulbs in the Southern Hemisphere! 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 Tanya Visser’s all-time-favourites. These bulbs always work so well in her garden with minimum fuss. They evoke memories of her childhood and their beauty never ceases to amaze her and any garden visitors.

Ranunculus

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.

Freesias

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.

Daffodils

The best spring welcoming you can hope for is an array of cheerful flowers and daffodils (Narcissus) fit this criterion flawlessly. Daffodils are synonymous with spring, joy and hardiness. The whimsical flowers have a range of colours from bright white to blush to the classic yellow, and make a statement while maintaining delicacy.

Daffodils are extremely easy to grow and can survive a range of climates – they are a fool-proof flower. If taken care of, the flowers will return every spring and bloom continuously. Most varieties need to be planted in April or May, with some extending to June, but the flowers will only start to appear around the beginning of September.

If you are looking for tall stems with large flowers, a trumpet daffodil such as ‘Mount Hood’ or a large cup daffodil like ‘Ice Follies’ make a bold statement amongst other long grasses. For a flashier feature, double daffodils like ‘Tahiti’ have stunning layers of outer petals that add splash to an indoor space, whether in a pot or as cut flowers. Miniature daffodils like ‘Tete a Tete’ have smaller flowers with a big impact planted beneath shrubs or great indoors. For the classic daffodil admirer, opt for the instantly recognisable yellow ‘Flower Carpet’.

READ MORE: Learn more about Daffodills here.

Layering Bulbs:

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 daffodils 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 will work. If you prefer you could plant ‘living mulch’ in the form of violas, pansies or alyssum.
  • Lastly, give the pot a good first watering, and then water it regularly going forward. At first the leaves of the bulbs will work their way to the surface. The blooms will follow after, resulting in a truly magical living bulb bouquet!

READ MORE: Learn about summer-flowering bulbs to plant in your garden in late-spring

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