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bulb combinations?

(34 Posts)
Maria2007 Thu 20-Aug-09 18:57:19

Hi, I'm about to buy my spring-flowering bulbs & I wondered if anyone has any good bulb-combinations to suggest for a smallish garden? Also, anything to avoid (given that it's the first year I'm doing this, I'm new to gardening).

GrapefruitMoon Thu 20-Aug-09 19:02:47

Do you mean colours or plant combinations?

Years ago i saw large pots of pink & yellow tulips outside the Plaza hotel in NY - they looked amazing (even though I would never normally choose those colours).

IU keep meaning to try it but tulips don't seem to do well in our garden...

Maria2007 Thu 20-Aug-09 19:23:36

I mean both colours & plants. I have a rough plan in mind (early blooming / middle blooming / late blooming & then summer blooming) & I'm trying to think of ideas around that.

Also, does anyone have a particular bulb online store they would recommend (or one they would really not recommend?) Peter Nyssen seems the cheapest by far, but am wondering whether the quality is less good? Just wondered if anyone has any ideas...

catinthehat2 Thu 20-Aug-09 19:41:07

Posting here as I just want to look at some good answers later.

Can I put in a word for botanical tulips (have a look in Google images for examples)?

It's I like things that spread and naturalise and aren't big and bonkers and showy. Some people love really flamboyant bulbs however.

Also, if you are planting bulbs for the first time, can I please recommend you don't :

measure your border
divide by the number of bulbs in your packet
plant single bulbs every x inches accordingly so they look like policemen on duty along the Mall.

Nice to plant in pots as well (eg 20 crocus) as you can drag this round to the front or back of the house wherever it looks nicest in the spring. When the bulbs outgrow the contrainer, just turf them out and plant them in the ground where you have a space.

Plant bulbs really deep then you aren'r going to poke them out of the ground everytime you put something else in while they are dormant over the summer.

OK, I want to see your replies on good combinations.....

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Aug-09 19:50:52

If you've got a smallish garden, it may be better for the daffs to use quite a lot of the smaller ones so that you aren't left with too much foliage afterwards. For instance, in my small front border I use Tete a Tete - its very robust, a really good do-er but compact and not floppy. Its not the most stylish daff but its cheerful and reliable.

White tulips can look wonderful among other plants. Don't forget the common companion plants like forget-me-nots and also wallflowers ... I always forget to get those at the right time (not yet) and miss the wonderful scent.

Maria2007 Thu 20-Aug-09 20:02:25

Yes, somewhere I read that forget me nots look fantastic with deep pink or deep red tulips. I think I'll try that :-)

I'm aiming for quite a few mini-varieties for pots (e.g. dwarf daffodils, small tulips, crocuses etc). That way I think I'll learn a lot & can experiment a bit with moving them around the house etc.

For the garden, so far, I've only decided on one combination that I like:
a couple of types of daffodils (yellow) with the double grape hyacinth muscari (blue spike, but there are others). I think that'll look nice! (or at least I hope).

I also want to get some alliums for later on, and some lilies, but lilies seem very expensive. As for the alliums, am I right to think that- since I don't have a big garden- I shouldn't get the very big & showy ones? I think the 'unifolium' ones (pink & not that showy) look nice & sweet.

I take your advice catinthehat about not planting in a row etc. I'm planning to literally put them everywhere I can think of! I would like them to be relatively few colours (otherwise the appearance of the garden may be a bit mad).

Any other good combinations?

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Aug-09 20:06:49

Lilies may be expensive, but IME they last longer than many other bulbs - I have a couple of pots of Stargazers which flower prolifically year after year with no particular attention. Whereas tulips and (to a lesser extent) daffs are likely to come up blind or disappear entirely in subsequent years.

And the scent of those lilies at the moment is absolutely fantastic!

Lulubee Thu 20-Aug-09 20:09:20

Snakes head fritillary are gorgeous planted in little clumps in small shady corners. This year I am planting pink tulips with purple splendour alliums, which is a combination I am shamelessly stealing from someone else's garden, they looked incredible. Anyone got any recs for autumn flowering bulbs?

GrapefruitMoon Thu 20-Aug-09 20:16:18

Anyone know how easy it is to get forget-me-not plants? For some reason the seeds don't seem to grow in my garden - whereas in our last garden we had masses that had self-seeded.

Pannacotta Thu 20-Aug-09 20:19:47

I dont like daffs or tulips as their foliage is so messy.
Snowdrops are much more elegant IMO as are Fritillaries. I also like narcissi like this
www.avonbulbs.co.uk/narcissus-jenny_1030_1032.htm

Avon bulbs is the supplier I'd recommend for bulbs though I see that they have sold ouot of this particular bulb.

I'd suggest buying snowdrops "in the green" in spring, ie when they are flowering rather than planbt as bulbs in teh autumn, there are so many to choose from its nice to see waht you are getting.
A good tip I read is to plant bulbs at the front of your borders, so you know where they are and dont damage them by digging and also the foliage blends into the lawn so looks less obvious/messy.

Pannacotta Thu 20-Aug-09 20:20:48

Oh and Camassia are lovely, very elegant and flower quite late compared to some bulbs
www.avonbulbs.co.uk/camassia_1_42_1.htm

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Aug-09 20:21:35

I think I bought some forget-me-not plants years ago, from which they have self-seeded ever since. I've found with a few things that I have to buy (or be given) a plant to begin with as packets of seeds won't oblige - e.g. foxgloves and honesty.
I dont remember having to go out of my way to obtain them.

GrapefruitMoon Thu 20-Aug-09 20:23:55

Thanks! Am i right in thinking that I should be looking out for them in the autumn?

rempy Thu 20-Aug-09 20:30:40

Well, I have a pink camillia, and a fair bit of lime green foliage. So I am going purple - anemone blanda, allium, blue - grape hyacinth, dwarf iris, and pink - cyclamen (but I'll be buying them as plants not bulbs) pulmonaria (yes yes, not a blub I know) and poss. tulips.

I made a mistake in my old garden with tulips - got those amazing black ones, but bought an off white/pale yellow instead of pristine white, and was disappointed every year they came up. They can be tricky to match, both colour and height.

If I avoid them I might get a peony instead.

Maria2007 Thu 20-Aug-09 20:56:08

Lulubee: Purple splendour alliums? I looked them up (they're gorgeous btw) but I think you mean purple sensation alliums (same idea anyway, sensation=splendour!) I think I'll order those myself although I'm slightly concerned they might be too big for my garden... but what the heck, I can try & fail if worse comes to worse.

neversaydie Thu 20-Aug-09 21:23:22

Sarah Raven's website is good for ideas on combining colours and so on.

missingtheaction Fri 21-Aug-09 11:20:10

sarah raven has ravishing combinations of bulbs if you want some online gardening porn inspiration. I wouldn't buy from her as they are expensive, but then there are some special things you can't get elsewhere and are absolutely fabulous!

Maria2007 Fri 21-Aug-09 21:46:39

Thanks Neversaydie & Missingtheaction: Couldn't find the ravishing combos though in S. Raven't website Any idea whereabouts they are?

Well... today I ordered my bulbs. Most from Peter Nyssen (really much cheaper than the other bulb-places & has a wonderfully big range). Hope they're good quality. As for the combinations, I still have no idea if the ones I've chosen will be any good!!

catinthehat2 Fri 21-Aug-09 22:21:37

what did you get in the end???

Maria2007 Sat 22-Aug-09 13:28:05

OK what did I get... oh my god I went overboard blush. I think I got far too many!!! I discovered the peter Nyssen website which is much cheaper than the others but makes it easy to buy too many bulbs! I wonder if my small garden will have enough space for everything I got! Anyway, no worries, I'll plant things in pots too (and I'm sure next year I'll be less enthusiastic).

So here are the combinations I chose (and some bulbs for pots on their own, not combined with other things):

Pickwick crocuses (for pot)

Muscari with tulip purissima white emperor for pot

Dwarf iris reticulata cantab for pot

dwarf daffs bulbocodium conspicuus (yellow) for pot

And for garden:

crocus chysanthus blue pearl & cream beauty (to combine) for winter flowering

white tulips & tulips bellona (yellow) to combine for early spring

daffodils stint (yellow), daffodils yellow cheerfulness & muscari blue spike (to go all together for middle spring flowering)

fritillaria meleagris (not sure where I'll put this but I LOVE it)

purple & apricot tulips for late spring flowering

allium mars (purple) & allium mount everest (white) very very few, for summer flowering

and a combination of gladioli again for summer flowering.

Hope they turn out ok!!

I also would love to get some cyclamen & snowdrops from my local garden centre but not sure when I should buy / when I should plant? Any suggestions?

neversaydie Sat 22-Aug-09 14:10:58

Sorry - having checked, Sarah Raven's website is nothing like as good as the paper catalogue! Anyhow, I grew both the Venetian collection and the scented collection last year (the latter interplanted with orangey-pink wallflowers) and both were absolutely lovely.

Her prices are on the high side, but she does offer interesting colours and varieties and it is always very good quality.

What you have ordered looks wonderful - hope they live up to expectation.

Pannacotta Sat 22-Aug-09 16:42:29

See my earlier post about snowdrops and when to buy.

catinthehat2 Sat 22-Aug-09 17:59:48

Cor luvverly envy

Like the purple /apricot thing, bet they would look nice with heuchera, which come up with all sorts of purples and lime greens and oranges.

All my cyclamen are from indoor pots that I've been given, and I just take the corm out and replant under a bush or a tree where it mimics a woodland floor - not a lot of light , soil a bit poor and dryish. THey all come up year after year very happily.

TuttiFrutti Sat 22-Aug-09 18:08:48

Queen of Night (almost black) tulip looks great planted with pale pink, frilly Angelique.

catinthehat2 Sat 22-Aug-09 18:09:25

Sorry, as for when, I put them in when the corm looks dormant ie finished flowering /leafing, and forget (as with all bulby sort of things). Could be any tim eof year, depending when they've been forced to flower. But they then pick up with the real seasons themselves using cyclamen radar as far as I can tell.

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