For fireworks in the spring, you need to be planting now, soggy old autumn. Of course the garden centres will happily sell you pots of daffodils in flower next year BUT the brilliant thing is, you spend very little and have infinitely more choice if you pop a few bulbs in the ground now and wait for nature to do its thing.
A few basics:
Bulbs look like onions. Don’t eat them. (It often says that if you buy them in packets, I’ve not tried them myself.)
They should be firm and fresh not saggy and wrinkly. Like all the best things in life.
Plant them deep. If the bulb is 3cm big plant at least 10cm down. Don’t think oh well it’s got a bit of soil on top, that’s fine, now I’m off to watch Strictly Come Dancing. Stick at it. That way you’ve got a good chance of them coming up for more than one year.
If you have heavy clay soil, then sprinkle some grit or sand into the planting holes for the bulbs to sit on, so they don’t get wet bottoms – perish the thought – and rot away before they even get started.
Frighten off the bulb-munching squirrels by sprinkling chili powder liberally around the bulbs before covering them up. Really. And don’t put your hands near your face at all during this bulb-planting exercise. Otherwise will definitely be tears before bedtime.
Tulips apparently like to be planted in November. No I’ve not heard them say so, but that’s what Bulb Experts say (it’s to do with them not getting a particular tulip disease) so you can hang on till then for tulips, everything else can go in the ground as soon as possible.
Bulbs look great in pots too, and little bulbs like crocus and smaller daffodils look good in the lawn, in roughly scattered drifts. Yes, drift is a word associated with bulbs. Wordsworth himself probably used it.
Don’t want to panic you but bulb companies and garden centres do run out of stocks as the weeks tick by, they only have so much stock and it won’t keep till next year. So if you want a beautiful spring garden you need to act pretty quick.
Last but not least – never make a note of what you planted where. Then it’s a glorious surprise for you too. I love that bit. As always – have fun! And then, only then, can you watch Strictly. You deserve it.
[This article first appeared in similar form in Ealing Today published 2-10-14]