I can be found in my garden finding something to do virtually every week of the year, weather permitting!
The long dark winter days never seem to get any easier, even though I know I ought to be used to them by now. As we get into February and March, when the days are getting longer, these still feel like the greyest of the months. In order to counteract this, the emergence of spring bulbs brings delight.
There are few flowers that can raise as much anticipation as waiting for the first snowdrop to flower. From the moment when I can see the first tip poking up through the earth, I know that soon, life will be returning to the garden. I grow a lot of snowdrops in my garden and whilst some people spend a lot of money on special rarities, I overwhelmingly grow the simple Galanthus nivaliis.
These are not native to the UK, and opinions differ as to how they arrived in this country. I rather like the ‘soldiers brought them home with them from the Crimean War’ story and happily accept this as true, regardless as to whether there is any basis to it.
There is, of course, more to spring bulbs than just snowdrops. Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) are a yellow moment of joy. I found them hard to establish in my garden to begin with, but after several attempts I now have a few and I am relieved every year when I see them return.
Cyclamen coum are small but mighty. These bring glimpses of pink that once planted, slowly seed around the garden with the aid of ants, as the seeds are attractive to ants who pick them up and drop them in their travels. After a year or two you see them pop up where you least expect them.
Then there are Iris reticulata, flames of colour that shoot up to light up frosty days. We then move into the crocus and daffodil days before descending into a world of colourful tulips.
The best thing about these bulbs is that most are very easy to grow. They really want to grow and are easy to handle, as most are not very small. You just need to be pop them into a hole in the ground, give them some water and then you wander off and leave them to it. You plant them usually in autumn and then they flower in the spring.
You might get better success with snowdrops, if you buy them and plant them now, whilst they are ‘in the green’ (just finished flowering and still with leaves); but I have planted them as dry bulbs and in the green and found that they have grown well. The general rule with gardening on the whole, is that plants have not read the rules. This works to the gardener’s advantage.
A garden without spring bulbs is missing a trick, even if you have no space you can plant them in pots and containers. This year, I have a hanging basket of snowdrops which I thought I would try to see what it would look like. It has been what I think is, a success! You can even grow them indoors for a table decoration. They are some of the prettiest and more forgiving plants you can grow, so why not give them a try.
For more tips on how you can bring your garden to life, visit Alison’s blog – The Blackberry Garden.