What is a bulb?

Corms, rhizomes, tubers and bulbs are collectively called ‘bulbs'. They are storage organs for the next season's stems, leaves and flowers.
There are bulbs suitable for many places in the garden from dense shade to dry and sunny.

Using bulbs in the garden

Spring bulbs can be used to make a formal spring bedding display, planted en masse and then replaced by summer bedding later in the season. Hyacinths and Tulips work well for this as they have a sculptural form. They should be planted in blocks of colour for best effect. If you use plants with different flowering times you will get a longer season of interest e.g. for tulips, use some that flower in early April, some late April and some May.

For a more relaxed feel, spring bulbs can be interplanted with later perennials so that you get colour and interest before the perennials start to take over. You can grow tall bulbs through ground cover plants to create height and interest.

If you have deciduous shrubs, underplant them with spring bulbs e.g. Snowdrops around Cornus where the white flowers contrast the red stems.

Bulbs often spread and can be used to create a carpet on the ground e.g. Anemone blanda.

You can naturalise bulbs (allow them to spread freely) under specimen deciduous trees or in grass.

Finally, they can be used in containers to add a splash of colour to the patio. After flowering give then a feed and put the pot somewhere out of sight until next year.

Buying bulbs

You need to choose bulbs with care to ensure they will perform well.

  • Press them between your thumb and forefinger. They should be firm. If they are soft, this is a sign of rot.
  • Avoid any that show signs of fungal infection (white patches).
  • Choose the biggest available for the cultivar that you want.
  • Buy as soon as you can to get the best choice.
  • Once purchased they need to be stored in a cool, dry place until planting time.

Planting and maintenance

Most bulbs like a light free draining soil although some tolerate it more damp like Camassias, Daffodils and Snowdrops.

Unless you have very free draining soil, it is worth adding some sharp grit to the bottom of the planting hole to aid drainage.

Once flowered, you need to cut down the flower stem to allow the plant's energy to go into building reserves for next year rather than into food production.

Examples of bulbs

Click on any of the images below to enlarge and read more information

“We were really impressed with the design service offered by Jayne. Jayne was able to take our initial brief and translate this into a stunning contemporary design that really made the most of the small space we had and provided a great backdrop to our new kitchen extension. The combination of hard landscaping and planting have completely transformed the garden. Over several meetings she was able to communicate the concepts and hone the design and even sample materials. She then recommended and then liaised with the landscaper to ensure the implementation went to plan before completing the final planting.”

Mrs Fenner
Marston Moretaine

"I found Jayne to be very friendly and pleasant to work with. The design is lovely - very attractive. I was impressed with Jayne's willingness to adapt to and take account of our cost constraints and likes and dislikes regarding plants. All work was carried out efficiently and pleasantly. Jayne was always ready to discuss and advise about design and plants and has transformed a boring and rather difficult small garden into an interesting area which will only improve as the plants grow and mature."

Mr & Mrs Barwell
Welwyn Garden City

We love our garden now. Our two dogs had pretty much destroyed it and it had become an embarrassment. We never used it, not even just for ourselves. It now has structure and a proper patio area and is always good to look at even in this bleak weather!

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Mr & Mrs Townsend
Houghton Conquest

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Mr & Mrs Bryant

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Mel Henson
Welwyn Garden City