Springtime Tips – Using Bulb Combinations to Great Effect
Spring is the time when keen gardeners indulge in a little harmless espionage in their neighborhood and municipal gardens. Making a note of good displays will help with a gardener’s own garden next year and there’s no harm in taking advice from those who are more experienced or have a flair for planting creativity.
Before deciding on your color scheme and the plants you might like to grow, bear in mind that the type of fencing surrounding your garden will either hinder or further your ideas. Your aluminum fence will allow sunlight to filter through the spars, providing perfect light conditions and moisture from rain will be allowed to drain off naturally without clogging the soil surrounding your bulbs. However, solid walls or fence panels can prevent air to circulate freely and will most certainly reduce the amount of light that will reach your border.
Attractive combinations include hyacinths and Scilla siberica, Narcissus “Jack Snipe” with Scilla siberica once more as a partner, and Tulipa kaufmanniana “Heart’s Delight” planted with Chionodoxa luciliae.
Plants to use for underplanting are polyanthus (primroses) beneath tulip displays, grape hyacinths with tulips, red double daisies (Bellis perennis) with white, double late tulips and yellow polyanthus with blue hyacinths or blue pansies with pink tulips and aubrieta beneath tulips again.
The color of your fence panels will also play a role. Against the backdrop of a black, wrought iron look aluminum fence virtually anything will look good, but if the color of your painted wood panel fencing clashes with the colors in your display, the back-breaking work of planting the bulbs will have been in vain. Equally, if you use the same color shade as the fence panels behind your border or display, the planting will simply “vanish” and all the eye of the beholder will see are the green foliage against the background of your fence. Using complementary color shades is the solution.
Tall tulips are best underplanted with bulbs that will hide their long, straggly stems. Forget-me-nots are well suited to this task.
Designing and Planting a Formal Border
After clearing the summer bedding plants in the area you wish to convert to a formal patch, remove all weeds and use bonemeal to replenish the nutrients in the soil. If planting between spring bedding plants like wallflower or forget-me-nots, they should be planted prior to introducing the bulbs. The soil of the area where you wish to plant should be moistened an hour prior to lifting bedding plants out of their containers and planting them.
It is best to draw your design on paper, preferably to scale. Use either spray cans to mark the soil in the pattern you wish to plant or use string and pegs to mark out your design for larger scale projects. Plant a small area at a time, making sure you leave enough space between your aluminum fence, wall or wooden fencing panels for plants to spread out.
If your design includes drifts of small bulbs such as snowdrops across your lawn, lift an area of grass by making an H-shaped cut with your spade or even better, a half-moon edger, as this will leave a straighter, cleaner cut. Slice between each grass flap in turn, then either roll or fold back the grass. Loosen the soil underneath before planting your bulbs. You might like to sprinkle a little bonemeal in when forking over during the loosening process. Do not plant in rows for a more natural effect and fold back the grass over the bulbs, then firm back into place.