Louise Tomlin takes a look at planting spring bulbs and encouraging the gardeners of the future…

I hope you are all doing okay as things continue to be difficult for everyone? At least there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon, all I’m going to say is my fingers are firmly crossed.

I’ve been looking for garden themed subject matter that’s suitably optimistic for the time of year, and I’ve struck on planting spring bulbs as I think this is a very good way of looking ahead to winter loosening its grip on us, and who doesn’t love seeing the first green shoots of new life and the colourful blooms of springtime?

If you’ve never tried it before growing bulbs is easy, you just put them in the soil, water them and they will grow. Be sure to check them over before planting and discard any that are wet or damaged. Store them in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to plant them, otherwise they might start sprouting.

Different plants have varied planting times, but November to January is a pretty good time for the most popular ones like hyacinths, tulips, daffs and snowdrops. Don’t get too hung up about where you plant them, they can be in borders, the lawn or containers. Make sure the soil isn’t waterlogged though; try adding grit or small stones to encourage drainage.

How deep should you plant them? A good rule of thumb is roughly three times their height and fat end down, the tapered or pointy bit is usually where the plant grows from so plant them with that at the top. Make a hole with your trowel, pop the bulbs in and then cover them gently, firming down the soil around and on top. Don’t just push them in, this may damage and waste them.

Try Grouping them in threes and fours, rather than lots of singles, it’s nice to see clumps and they help support each other as they grow. If you’re a bit absent minded you could try putting a label or marker in to remind you where you’ve planted them, or just ignore them and then hopefully you’ll get a nice surprise in the spring when the shoots start to show.

Planting bulbs is a great way of encouraging children to get involved with gardening and nature, it’s a simple task that can be fun. I enlisted the help of my young friend and neighbor Deji, who is four. Together we planted up a couple of big pots for him and his family to enjoy, he took to the task with much enthusiasm as you can see. In the containers he carefully planted mixed narcissi bulbs (daffodils to you and me) and we topped the pots off with primrose plants to give some colour and interest over the next few months, until the daffs poke through. It was great to see how the things that looked like onions to him fascinated him and he took on board that these would then grow into lovely flowers. Maybe you could try getting any youngsters you know involved in a bulb planting session; it’s good to encourage the gardeners of the future.

Last spring I took a photo of the beautiful Lilac Wonder tulips (at the top of the page). I think they’re sensational and wanted to plant some to enjoy in my own garden, unfortunately I couldn’t get them but I found these Tulip Water Lilly, (bottom right) which I think are equally pretty and I’m sure that along with the all the daffs, snowdrops and other tulips we’ll have a good show.

Wishing you all Season’s Greetings and a Very Happy New Year. Keep safe everyone; remember spring is just around the corner.

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