Buying bulbs to plant in the autumn is one of lifes little pleasures, a nice antidote to counteract the end of the summer.
I’ve picked five of my favourite bulbs, to flower next year that are a bit more unusual than the regular tulips and daffodils. I’m stretching the definition of bulb here to promote these gorgeous plants.
Camassia leichtlinii caerulea:
Tough as old nails and if you’re soil is too damp and heavy for tulips, these will be perfect. The flowers are mainly purple, blue and cream appearing in mid to late spring. Avoid the pale Camassia cusickii as it doesn’t flower so well. 80cm high.
Strictly speaking this is a rhizome rather than a bulb, you’ll see their wild cousins if you visit Crete in the spring. Plant them in a sunny well-drained position and they’ll form clumps topped with pretty white star-shaped flowers through most of spring. 75cm high.
Eremurus Cleopatra (fox-tail lily)
I love these dramatic spires, they’ll add vertical colour to make your borders more interesting and varied.
The star-shaped tuberous roots need a wide planting hole. Give the plant plenty of space so the sun can reach the soil around them, plant in drfits for maximum impact.
Fritillaria meleagris (snakes-head fritillary):
It’s happiest in damp meadows, so like Camassias, it’s to be avoided on dry, well-drained soils. 30cm high.
The meadow next to Magdelan College, Oxford is filled with these fritillaries every spring. It floods regularly during the winter, so it’s the perfect environment.
Wait untill July before you mow, if you grow them in grass and want them to set seed and mulitply.
This is a real favourite of mine, such a handsome shape from the first appearance of the buds, through flowering to the dry seed-head.
They prefer some shade and and sandier soils. It’s closely related to the allium, so you get a mild scent of onion if you crush the leaves. 75cm.
All these plants are available fom Avon bulbs, many thanks to them for the images and some of the useful tips.
Enjoy browsing through the bulb catalogues and let me know how you get on.