Nothing lifts the spirits after a long, dark winter more than the sight of the first early blooming bulbs.
Spring bulbs bring colour to garden borders and patio containers when little else wants to show itself above the cold soil. To make sure you get the earliest show, Autumn is the best season to plant spring flowering bulbs to allow them to develop their root system, which in turn allows them to flower in spring rather than summer.
We’ve listed some of our top recommendations for spring flowering bulbs from The Bulb Market at Gates Garden Centre.
Anemone blanda blue bulbs
Easy to plant and grow, beautiful Anemone blanda blue is our Bulb of the Year because it provides great coverage and colour in spring. The common name for Anemone blanda blue is ‘winter windflower’, which is given because the flower heads turn away from a breeze. This fully hardy ground-spreading perennial bulb enjoys a natural habitat on rocky slopes and as such provides excellent coverage. The daisy-like slim blue petals bring welcome spring colour to any garden border, containers or rockeries. This versatile plant can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Anemone blanda blue will grow well in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Vibrant blue flowers appear from early spring with a flowering period from March to April.
There are a wide range of Crocus varieties to try, from mixed or single colours to individual types. Crocuses provide a vibrant pop of colour from as early as February with a mix of either purple, white, or yellow goblet shaped flowers and orange stamen. Early foraging bees appreciate their nectar too. Plant crocus bulbs (or corms as they are known) in your garden borders, lawn or pot displays three inches deep and 5-7cms apart. For best results plant in informal groups to give you that natural floral carpet, usually found in woodlands to provide that first glimpse of colour.
Iris reticulata bulbs
Iris reticulata known as early bulbous iris produce colourful, lightly scented blooms in early spring between February and March. They prefer a nice sunny spot or a partially shaded area in well-drained soil. For best results plant the bulbs in late summer or in early autumn at least 5-10cm apart, at twice their own depth. Iris reticulata have pale blue to deep violet blooms with central yellow splashes down the middle of each petal, which makes them perfect for growing at the front of a sunny garden border or amongst rockeries. They can also be grown in pots so that you can appreciate their vibrant colours and markings close to the house.
Fritillaria meleagris bulbs
Fritillaria meleagris or Snakes Head Fritillary are native to the UK and can be found growing in areas of damp woodland. This variety always attracts attention with its distinctive snake-skin markings and bell-shaped flowers. Now protected and rarely seen in the wild, these plants make an elegant addition to the garden. Fritillaria meleagris bulbs are extremely hardy and trouble-free to grow, making them ideal for containers, sunny spring borders or areas of long grass. For best results, plant these bulbs from September to October to expect flowers between March and April. If you are going to grow these bulbs in containers, please ensure they are placed towards the front of your display, due to their smaller size. These bell-shaped blooms are also good for attracting early foraging bees to your garden.
Alliums known as Ornamental onions come in many bulb varieties, which all produce an explosion of colour in shades of blue, purple, mauve, pink, and white. All varieties have different sized architectural globe shaped heads which help to create a spectacular display. Alliums are easy to grow and can be planted from August onwards, for flowers in May to June. For best results, plant bulbs in a sunny sheltered site to avoid the flower stems getting blown over. They can also be grown in containers with good drainage to avoid waterlogged conditions, which can rot the bulbs. Allium stems can grow at different heights, depending on the variety, so it’s best to plant taller alliums towards the rear or middle of a garden border where they can stand above shorter plants or shrubs. Smaller-flowered alliums look impressive when planted in clumps near the front of garden borders.
Daffodil Narcissus bulbs
Daffodil Narcissus is a firm favourite at springtime and brings a bright splash of colour to a garden or patio pot. Daffodils are one of the most reliable spring-flowering bulbs to brighten up your garden throughout spring. They grow well in containers, borders and grass, with a wide range of flower shapes, forms and sizes to choose from. Autumn is the best time to plant daffodil bulbs, as it gives them time to produce new roots before the cold weather strikes. There are many varieties varying from large cup daffodils to double daffodils in a whole host of colours from yellow, orange to white and even pale pink. Our favorite is the classic Narcissus ‘Fortune’ Daffodil which is a large-cupped daffodil, bearing rich buttery yellow flowers with pale orange trumpets, perfect for garden borders, lawns or under trees. You can plant these from September onwards for bright yellow flowers through March to April.
If you’re looking to create a beautiful spring garden for next year, get creative now and choose bulbs which offer colour, structure and interest. Here at Gates Garden Centre, our Plant Specialists are on hand to answer any questions or provide tips and advice to help you create the perfect spring garden border, rockery or container. You can find an extensive range of bulb varieties in The Bulb Market here at Gates Garden Centre. We have everything you need to get planting. Alternatively, you can shop for spring flowering bulbs, bulb compost and garden tools online.