As September draws to a close summer officially ends but it is no time to down tools in the garden and hibernate inside.
Autumn may be upon us but the changing of the seasons means the start of the bulb planting season and the best time to dig in to plan which colours and varieties you would like to sprout up in the new year.
To mark the occasion, Country Week has teamed up with Wyevale Garden Centres to bring readers some tips to becoming a bulb expert this autumn, courtesy of its newly published The Bulb Book.
Choose wisely: Ask what colours you want in your garden and are you planting in a pot or in a bed? There should be a great selection at your local centre, from pansies to Sweet Williams. Bulbs are a notoriously low-cost way to add splashes of colour to your garden so make sure you pick up a vast selection – you will most likely be planting them quite close together so the more the merrier. Plump, firm bulbs work better so avoid any with signs of mould and softness.
Scout the spot: Popular bulb varieties such as daffodils and tulips need sunny, dry spots so avoid areas you know get very wet during the colder months and choose sheltered areas that will be able to absorb the small amount of winter sunshine.
Prepare the soil: When planting in beds mix compost into the soil to provide rich nutrients. Pots require good drainage so it’s best to avoid soggy soil. Clear weeds or damaging plants out of your bed first.
Tools: Small tools such as trowels and hand rakes, plus a large watering can, are staples. Small tools allow you to get close to the soil and dig the appropriate size hole for the bulbs. A large watering can makes watering bigger beds simple and quicker.
Dig deep: Ensure the hole depth is double or even triple a bulb’s size and at least a bulb’s width from each other. Plant bulbs with shoots facing up but if unsure plant on their side and the shoot will reach the surface.
Arrange: Flowers such as tulips always create a better formation when planted in a large group. You don’t have to stick to one colour; experiment with different hues and types in your bed or pot.
Shower with love: Bulbs grow better in dryer soil but if they get too dry they won’t survive. Plan a regular water cycle alongside the usual British downpours.
Pot luck: Most bulbs can be grown in containers and larger flowers such as daffodils particularly thrive in a smaller environment.
Problem solving: Slugs, snails, and squirrels can be a huge problem for growing bulbs so watch out for pesky pests during the season and seek advice from your garden centre.
Missed the best time? Tulips are a top choice to plant in November. With other bulbs, check for firmness as they may have become too soft over time.