Planting bulbs in lawn

(34 Posts)
shovetheholly Sat 26-Sep-15 08:40:26

I want to plant loads of Grand Maitre crocuses in my lawn so that they make a kind of purple ribbon in the spring. The area is about 6-7 feet by 40cm or so across, and I am going to fill it with about 300 bulbs.

Is it best to cut and lift the turf, plant, and then replace? Or to dig into the lawn with a bulb planter and do it individually?

The grass is quite a fine fescue (it's a shade lawn) and easily damaged, so I'm guessing that lifting might be the best bet?? Advice/thoughts?

PurpleWithRed Sat 26-Sep-15 08:45:39

Hmm, I'd go with a bulb planter, the type that lifts out a round plug of turf that you can pop back in afterwards. Lifting a whole strip of turf Smoothly is difficult, unless you are prepared to hire a turf stripper to,do it.

By turf stripper I was initially thinking of the machine you can get from hire shops, but a hunky Edwardian-style under gardener might be an excellent alternative.

shovetheholly Sat 26-Sep-15 08:47:42

Ooooh, do you think you can hire hunky Edwardian undergardeners by the hour? Is there a winter supplement for shirts off?

AncestralRhubarb Sat 26-Sep-15 09:10:48

I was coming on the say bulb planter through the turf, but I am completely swayed by the hunky Edwardian undergardener suggestion.

<remembers the sweaty summer of the Diet-Coke-Ad-worthy topless fencing boys with great fondness>

DoreenLethal Sat 26-Sep-15 09:13:45

Bulb planter. Such a great tool. I use mine for planting loads of stuff, it is especially good for potatoes, anything in a 3 inch pot, and anything through a mulch.

PurpleWithRed Sat 26-Sep-15 09:25:15

There is clearly a market for hunky edwardian style under gardeners, with a range of upgrading options (sweaty, shirtless, scything, surprisingly tender with animals etc). I am going to set up a business. Anyone fancy helping me with the interviews?

shovetheholly Sat 26-Sep-15 09:28:44

Memememememememe! ME!

I feel I would be well-placed to judge the merits of the candidates. By which I mean, I am competent at drooling from all angles.

Hassled Sat 26-Sep-15 09:30:48

Would there not be an issue whereby the grass needed cutting but the crocuses (Crocii) weren't at a stage where they could be cut back? I love the concept though - sounds great.

MischiefInTheWind Sat 26-Sep-15 09:33:57

I was part of the Purple PInkie campaign to help eradicate polio by paying for and planting crocus bulbs. Thousands of them.
300 is quite a lot, and if the grass is fine and delicate, I'd lift the turf, set the bulbs in and replace the turf in a large a piece as possible. The overall effect after planting is much neater, and you can see exactly where the bulbs are placed before you finish.

shovetheholly Sat 26-Sep-15 09:34:50

hassled - yes there would. I am doing them in a ribbon, though, so I will hopefully be able to let that bit of grass grow long, then cut later in the year. I am sort of a bit inspired by Little Sparta, where I saw these ribbons of longer grasses and flowers running through the lawn. It was quite sculptural and pleasing.

I realise I'm making a bit of a rod for my own back with this, but I can then have a great excuse to get the hunky Edwardian undergardener to cut the lawn with delicate nail scissors while flexing superbly. The spectacle (of the crocii, of course) will be worth it.

wilbur Sat 26-Sep-15 09:39:38

Crocus swathe sounds gorgeous. If you do the bulb planter option, can I recommend you get a long-handled one similar to this rather than use a short one? Having planted around 200 bulbs myself last autumn using a hand tool (and that was in borders not through grass) I can confirm that it is back-breaking work. My flowers looked lovely when they came up, but my spine did not thank me!

Edwardian undergardener for sure next time round.

Tarzanlovesgaby Sat 26-Sep-15 09:46:28

I would use a spade to make a groove and plant this way.
a bit of flour is great to mark a line on the lawn.

Orangesarenottheonlyfruit Sun 27-Sep-15 20:01:49

Thank you so much for this thread, you have just introduced me to Little Sparta and I must try and work out how to get a visit next year!
I am very tempted to try the crocus in lawn thing but have just planted all my bulbs this weekend and my back is aching. I'm not sure I can face it!

cooper44 Sun 27-Sep-15 20:15:39

ooh thanks for this idea shove - it sounds amazing - do you think this could work under new turf too? or is it slightly sacrilegious to plant bulbs in perfect lawns???

AsTimeGoesBy Sun 27-Sep-15 20:27:12

Look, these are some I planted in a shady part of my lawn under a tree about 10 years ago, they do die back before lawn cutting is needed and they make a lovely display every year. I think I lifted small strips and put them under (the lawn is a bit scraggy there), but I am a fan of the bulb planter in general, not for big bulbs where it isn't deep enough but planting potatoes through a cardboard/compost was a breeze with it.

bookbook Sun 27-Sep-15 22:04:58

This has reminded me to get some to plant!
I don't know if it was the weather , but I only seemed to have purple crocuses this year, Must get some other colours smile

AsTimeGoesBy Sun 27-Sep-15 23:18:24

My yellows hardly did anything this year, the purple always seem to dominate.

ClaudiaNaughton Mon 28-Sep-15 05:25:52

I cut turf and did this some years ago with white crocus around apple trees. I also planted autumn ones at the same time. All disappeared after the first year apart from the odd brave soul. I think I may have planted too near the surface and squirrels or mice got them. Grand Maitre look excellent. I may try again with them. Lawn does get quite waterlogged in winter though.sad

shovetheholly Mon 28-Sep-15 07:44:21

oranges - go, go, go to Little Sparta if you have half a chance! It is worth the trip (to the middle of nowhere) - it's a staggering, colossal achievement - less a garden than a extended artwork, and one that joyfully sticks two fingers up to many other kinds of gardening.

cooper - I don't see why it wouldn't work in new lawns! They do it on cut grass verges in the city where I live - there is a particularly spectacular stretch where there are thousands of dark purple and yellow crocuses in the spring and it looks LOVELY! AsTime - love your example though distracted by the cuteness of your cat!

mischief - that charity project sounds amazing. I bet it looked terrific when you'd done!

I've had a look at the lawn, and I think I'm going to have to try both methods and see which does the least damage. My bulb planter has a diameter of around 6cm, and given that crocuses need to be spaced about 7cm to get the effect I want, I will have to cookie-cutter the whole thing to get them in! I imagine this might be a lot easier but might also do more damage than just cutting and lifting, but I shall experiment and report back. It's really important for this to work visually that they are planted very evenly in a ribbon with quite defined edges. I don't want a loose scattering (which can look absolutely lovely), but a stream!

Orangesarenottheonlyfruit Mon 28-Sep-15 14:09:06

You have all totally inspired me, I am going to do this, am off to buy some crocus bulbs and a bulb planter.
What a lovely idea, I can't wait!

shovetheholly Thu 01-Oct-15 08:16:47

Hooray! Hooray for crocuses!

If you haven't already bought them I found that the cheapest place by a way was the Parkers bulbs wholesale site: www.dutchbulbs.co.uk/plant-0003890-qa-1/crocus-grand-maitre-78cm/

Prices don't include VAT, so be prepared for a sharp intake of breath when you press 'check out'! grin

Let me know how the planting goes - mine haven't arrived yet so I am all sad and need to enjoy bulb planting vicariously!

ClaudiaNaughton Mon 05-Oct-15 18:24:15

Thanks Shove have ordered some of these from Parkers and will have another bash. Can recommend Peter Nyssen also for bulbs. Was originally recommended in Well Tempered Garden. This year Spring Green tulips are my theme grin Not in lawn, in pots and borders.

shovetheholly Tue 06-Oct-15 07:50:12

I love a stand of Spring Green. They're smashing tulips.

I've bought lots of species tulips this year. I love them. They may not have the tall elegance of the wine glass-shaped ones, but the fact that they don't need to be lifted and fussed is a massive plus in my book! I've gone for big clumps of Lilac Wonder right down my path.

Crocuses have arrived but still haven't quite plucked up courage to plant em. And time is ticking!

shovetheholly Thu 07-Apr-16 14:08:16

So remember I was talking about this AGES ago? Well, I did order the crocuses. And then I forgot to put them in until December - way too late!

But they have forgiven my neglect and are now through! Check. It. Out. You can't see very well from the picture but they are planted in a half crescent (imagine a crescent cut in half along the thickest part).

Well chuffed! It should be even better next year.

funnyperson Thu 07-Apr-16 15:22:15

How lovely! Are these the Grande Maitre? They look to large to be tommasinianus

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