Bulbs that return to the garden year after year

Bulbs that return to the garden year after year | In Fiona's Garden

Life & Style
Species tulip, Tulipa clusiana Lady Jane flowers in early spring in cool districts of NSW.

Species tulip, Tulipa clusiana Lady Jane flowers in early spring in cool districts of NSW.

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Dwarf bulbs are among the most welcome sights in the spring garden.

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DWARF bulbs are among the most welcome sights in the spring garden.

August and September might seem far away but midsummer is the ideal time to order spring flowering bulbs.

The garden is resting in the heat, giving you time to plan.

Get in there now before the favourites sell out, which they highly likely to do given the hugely increased interest in gardening driven by COVID-19.

I love dwarf bulbs for several reasons. They are good ground covers below shrubs and they grow beautifully in pots.

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My latest idea is to use them immediately behind the rusty-look, non-gal steel strips that separate the beds from the lawn in front of the house below the verandah.

The strips are great as lawn edgings as it's easy to mow or whipper snip up to them but the supposedly low growing perennials behind continually flop over and annoy the mowing person, thus defeating the whole object.

I'm thinking of digging out the clumps of lambs' ears (Stachys), catmint (Nepeta) and sedums and replanting them well back from the metal strips.

I'll then fill the gap with dwarf bulbs to create ribbons of colour in early spring, just as the garden is waking up.

After the bulbs have flowered the leaves will die down and the perennials can lurch forward over them while staying clear of the metal edgings. I hope.

There's a mouth-watering range of low growing bulbs on the market that is terrific fun to explore.

Species tulips are happy in well-drained soil with plenty of sun and would be eye-catching in the corners where paths emerge onto the lawn

I have a few bulbs from last year of pink and white T. clusiana Lady Jane so I'll expand the range and add Tinka, red and yellow flowers, Cynthia, red exterior with creamy yellow interior, and Peppermint Stick, raspberry red petals with white margins and white interior.

Dwarf irises like sun and good drainage and are happy spending their summer dormancy in warm, dry soil.

I. histroides from Turkey has the biggest flowers, dark violet-blue, and is quite tough: it will tolerate some moisture during summer dormancy.

I. reticulata from the Caucasus, Turkey, Iran and Iraq is similar in colour, scented, with narrower petals.

Crocuses do well in the coolest regions of the NSW ranges.

There is plenty of choice in individual colours but you can buy a mixed colour collection far more cheaply.

Miniature daffodils Tete a Tete, its double form Tete Boucle and pure white Thalia, together with a mixed planting of colourful, easy sparaxis, should give me just about enough to start with.

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