Where would we be in spring without bulbs? No daffodils, tulips or hyacinths… it just wouldn’t be the same. But don’t forget, you can plant bulbs now too for quick and easy summer flowers.
Summer bulbs are one of the most sure-fire ways to inject a splash of colour into your garden. The reason they’re a good bet is that someone else has done a year or two’s work looking after the plant, it arrives neatly packaged and ready to burst forth into leaf and bloom.
‘Bulbs’ is a bit of a catch-all term, and when gardeners use it we also often mean corms and tubers. The easy way to distinguish them is that corms tend to have a netted, papery covering and are solid inside whereas bulbs tend to have layers, rather like an onion. Freesias, crocus, and gladioli are all kinds of corms, whereas daffodils and lilies are true bulbs. Then come tubers such as dahlias and many begonias.
Bulbs, tubers or corms, they’re generally great plants to grow in pots. For colour and sheer ‘oomph’, patio dahlias (such as ‘Twyning’s Smartie’ are hard to beat. Begonias are great for long-lasting colour, some are scented too – and they even do well in shady spots!
For an exotic touch, try the pineapple lily, Eucomis – with their amazing tufted flower spikes they’re sure to impress friends and neighbours. Sometimes they take a long time to appear in spring, but don’t worry, they will eventually appear. I find it helpful to mark where I’ve put them with thin canes or wooden kebab skewers (which also helps keep cats off the soil).
One of the best gardening ‘cheats’ I know is to grow lilies in pots. They’re perfect for dropping into beds and borders to add some instant impact if you find you have any gaps over the summer. Oriental lilies in particular are wonderfully fragrant, colourful and easy to grow. They prefer acid soil, so grow them in pots of compost if your soil is limy or chalky (alkaline). Otherwise, try the glorious Madonna lily which relishes limy conditions.
Whichever you choose, these pre-primed bundles of flower are sure to bring colour and scent to your summer garden. So get planting!