I am well-stocked with bulbs. Some are relics of the past, lifted from the containers they were planted in, stored in the shed since the spring. Most, however, are fresh in this year, bagged up and waiting to be planted. I spent a bit of time a few weeks back scouring the internet for compelling bulb offers. I may have got carried away. Here is what I have:
- ‘Christophii’ 
- ‘Purple Sensation’ 
- ‘Violet beauty’ 
- ‘Aflatinense’ 
- ‘Nigrum’ 
- ‘Abu Hassan’ 
- ‘Claudia’ 
- ‘Dynasty’ 
- ‘Orange dynasty’ 
- ‘Flaming flag’ 
- ‘Purple flag’ 
- ‘Seadov’ 
- plus about 50 assorted from last year.
- yellow 
- mixed 
- plus about 25 from last year.
The tulips will wait until November, potentially even December, as the cold in the ground allegedly kills off the Tulip Fire virus they are susceptible to. The alliums and daffodils need to get planted now so they have a chance to establish a good root network. In fact, arguably I’m a little late with the alliums, whose planting advice says “early autumn”. I figure since there hasn’t been a frost yet, this still counts as early autumn if I get a move on.
I have a few alliums in Border 1 already and a few daffs scattered about, but I want to improve the display.
My plans are thus:
Border 1 – Some of the new daffodil stock will go in here, combined with the old daffs and some of last year’s tulips.
Border 2 – Allium ‘Aflatinense’ & ‘Negrus’, plus more daffs and groups of last year’s tulips
Border 3 – daffodils and some of the old tulips.
Border 4 – Allium ‘Violet Beauty’
Border 5 – some of the daffodils will go in the very edge which gets a bit of sun
Border 6 – Allium ‘Purple Sensation’. I might not fit 15 in here in which case I’ll put some elsewhere.
I’ve actually finished the front garden bulb planting, at least in the borders.
Border 7 – Daffodils aplenty in here, along with 10 of the allium ‘christophii’. I cleared quite a bit of ground to do it (removing the nicotiana sylvestris, to which I’ve taken a dislike).
Border 8 – The rest of the allium ‘christophii’ have gone in here, along with maybe 30 daffodils. I’ve planted most of the daffs in the less promising areas of the border, at the back, where the soil is not great, a bit sandy – I hope they’ll be OK there. The rest are in the front, dotted about between the penstemons and other perennials.
Border 9 – I’ve planted a mix of purple ‘Aflatinense’ and white ‘Negrum’ alliums in here, dotted in amongst the perennial foxgloves. My hope is that the foxglove foliage will cover the allium foliage as it dies back. Some of the daffs have gone in towards the back of the border, in the spaces between the cornus and the exochorda, and some more among the helenium. Again, I’m hoping that the helenium and other foliage has begun to grow once the daff foliage is looking untidy. The timing of that may not be right, we shall see.
The tulips, lovely when in flower, are a bit of a hassle in the foliage department. After flowering the leaves need to be left to die off for 6 weeks or so, this time being necessary to get energy into the bulb, needed for its period of hibernation. They can look a bit untidy in the process. This year’s tulips were all in containers. I’m not certain they’ll come back very well next spring, those are going out in the borders. I’m going to plant them up in 3 litre plastic pots first, then bury the pots where I want them. When the flowers are done, I will remove the pots of recuperating tulips and park them in a secluded corner of the garden, where they can be happily untidy. Hopefully the foliage will be enough of a marker, but just in case I’ll mark the position of the pots for easy retrieval. This’ll certainly work for keeping things tidy, I’m not sure how effective it will be at preserving bulbs for flowering in future years. We shall see.
The new tulips will all go in containers for the patio and potentially the area around the front door. I’m going to take the same approach – plant them up in plastic pots then insert those into the container, usually a larger more attractive pot. These pot liners can then be easily removed and stashed away, just like their ground-based cousins. This means I can quickly replace the gone-over tulips with some seasonal colour. Next year I’ll repeat the process, cycling these through into the borders and replacing with new for the containers and pots.
Planting them out is frankly a huge pain, but fortunately for us, and for the bulb industry in general, they are fabulous when in flower, making it all worth it.
I’ll be back soon with more propagation nonsense.
Note – with the exception of the header image, all pictures here are from online bulb catalogues – I hope to be able to show them photographed in situ next spring.