It’s that time of year again, the bulbs are back! This month’s subscription box is slightly larger, slightly squarer than the month before - as the first month of the new and updated subscription it really has not disappointed (just as we thought it really couldn’t get any better!) Now is the moment for excitement and anticipation for next spring, and what better than four stunning new varieties of bulb to brighten up your spring pots and borders?
The brightly coloured packets of equally as beautiful bulbs contain miniature varieties of jewel-like flowers, perfect for the fronts of borders, the tops of bulb lasagnes and ideal for terracotta pots. A cluster of small pots, each housing a different bulb variety and grouped together is not only bright, uplifting and impactful for spring but also takes inspiration from Monty Don. Those who watch Gardener’s World would instantly recognise his bulb display on the table in front of the potting shed; this is usually packed to the brim with irises, narcissi, crocuses, hyacinths and more! Who wouldn’t want their spring garden to look like Longmeadow?
Also unique to this month is the helpful bulb guide included in the box, not only is it beautifully illustrated and super informative, but it also gives you space to make your own notes. No more scrawling on the back of seed packets and bulb boxes! This helpful booklet provides crucial information about types of spring bulb, and informative advice and instructions about when, where and how to plant most species of spring bulb. What more could you want, answers to your specific questions? It’s got that too, with contact details and information on how to get in touch with Lizzie to find out about anything bulb related under the sun! Gardening really has become easier than ever with the subscription, and few other bulb retailers offer such personal advice.
The first thing that caught my eye when delving into my box was the bright, pastel, pinky lilac of ‘Tulip bakerii lilac.’ (I rarely use this expression, but I truly did feel like a child in a sweetshop; taken in by the array of brightly coloured paper packaging.) This is a stunning botanical tulip, one of the earliest to flower – it will be up months before its taller and more familiar siblings. What sets it apart from other botanical tulips is it’s surprisingly dazzling; partly due to the contrast between the lilac outer petals and the sun-kissed yellow centres which are beacons of light on a dreary March morning. It is also unique in that it is perennial: you can lift and store your bulbs for planting next autumn or plant into the ground - if they like your soil chances are they will naturalise. These tulips look best planted close together in clumps for maximum impact; in bud and by foliage they look tulip-like, but when the flowers open they have the appearance not of a tulip but of an unknown, exotic bulb. There is no better unusual yet breathtaking bulb to plant in your garden this autumn, and it will flower early, when your garden especially needs a pop of colour.
Dwarf irises are underrated, and no spring garden should be without their bright, cobalt, turquoise or even magenta jewels of flower each February. Iris reticulata ‘Pauline’ is unusual in that it deviates from the cerulean norm to be a bold, striking purple. ‘Pauline’ is also a superior cultivar due to its sweet fragrance, plant in a window box or by a doorway to best enjoy this spring secret.
If you think you aren’t too bothered about muscari – think again. Those thinking of giving them a miss this year clearly haven’t discovered Muscari latifolium, a taller than average variety that is unique because of its bi-coloured blooms. Sophisticated and elegant, the sky-blue upper florets fade into an inky navy, giving the flower an almost ombre effect. The species is named for its broad leaves which resemble that of a tulip, so they work perfectly when paired with tulips in a border or a bulb lasagne.
This month’s box really has pulled out all the stops, with another, free packet of bulbs included with these stunning varieties. Everyone loves a crocus, and I think all would agree the large, flowered ones are the best – almost goblet-like they add maximum impact to any pot, border or lawn.
This really is a collection of bulbs of the best quality: there are no bland, brown paper bags nor any plastic in sight and each variety is illustrated colourfully on the label – you really know exactly what you are planting.
And if you can’t get enough of bulbs… Lizzie is running a bulb-planting workshop in November at Yarnton Garden Centre just north of Oxford, it is just the perfect thing to learn more about all things bulbs! Colourful, versatile and hardy, there really is no better group of plants for spring and now is the time to get started – this month’s subscription box is the perfect place to begin!