Bulbs for autumn planting

Posted: Monday 8 September 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair

It's that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen. September has rolled round, which means it's time to order bulbs for autumn planting.


It's that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen. September has rolled round, which means it's time to order bulbs for autumn planting.

Bulbs are the most satisfying of plants. It strikes me as little short of miraculous that something so brown, wrinkled and unpromising can produce something so extraordinarily beautiful as, say, a tulip, a daffodil or a snowdrop.

My only problem is what to choose. Every year I try to plant at least three new varieties of tulip, otherwise I tend to slip into complacency and only plant the ones that I know work well.

My classic combination - one that's guaranteed to make a splash - is a gorgeous orange lily-flowered tulip called Tulipa 'Ballerina' (slim, elegant and smells of orange boiled sweets) combined with Tulipa 'White Triumphator'. This is one of the best white tulips - lily flowered again - which starts a sort of creamy, top-of-the-milk pale yellow, but quickly matures into crispest white.

These two together are spectacular enough, but if you then add Tulipa 'Queen of the Night' to the mix it steps up the action another notch. This one is deep dark purple and is a bit later to come into flower, which adds longevity to the scheme as well as another colour.

If you can't cope with orange - and you wouldn't be alone; many gardeners cringe at such bright colour (which I think is a great pity, but such is life) - then try one of the pink lily flowered varieties like 'Jacqueline' or 'China Pink'. In the iamge above I've added one more - the beetroot-coloured 'Negrita'.

Fortunately, we have a bit of leeway on tulips as they don’t need to go in the ground until November. That means a couple more weeks of drooling over the bulb catalogue before I actually have to make up my mind.





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