Planting spring bulbs – tulips, snowdrops, fritillaria and alliums

This year I’m planting my spring bulbs for the spring White Garden in three stages:

  1. galanthus-nivalis-bulbs-planting - 1
    One of the snowdrop clumps planted around the base of deciduous Buddleja davidii ‘Santana’
    Early October: introducing permanent succession planting of Alliums, Galanthus (snowdrops) and Fritillaria meleagris was all done back in the first week of October (see this blog post for more). The Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ scattered throughout the border about 20cm deep, 20 cm apart. Galanthus nivallis under deciduous shrubs throughout the border at 8cm deep, 8cm apart. And the Fritillaria meleagris in one clump also at 8cm deep, 8cm apart.
  2. tulip-bulb-planting - 1 (1)
    Planting Tulipa ‘Green Star’ bulbs as deep as possible in between the bare root wallflowers, Erysimum ‘Ivory White’
    Early November: tulips are meant to go into the ground when the weather turns cold. Which should be now, but it’s still really
    warm and mild. However, I stored my bulbs badly and they started sprouting. I sought advice from the pros and they said tulips sprouting in storage will be fine if put in the ground ASAP. So, although still warm, this weekend I have planted 70 Tulipa ‘Green Star’ throughout the border, interspersed with bare root wallflowers (which don’t look amazingly healthy I have to say…)
  3. Late November / early December: when we get our first frost, our Dahlias will be zapped and I can then lift the tubers to be replaced with a further 40 tulip bulbs I have on reserve. Ordered as a separate batch and so aren’t sprouting yet.

Erysimum cheiri 'Ivory White'
Some of the Erysimum cheiri ‘Ivory White’ from Mr Fothergills planted in the border is looking a bit sorry for itself in its first week – this is how they arrived.
Problems I’ve encountered so far are: planting Alliums and forgetting where they were – I’ve probably planted tulips in the same spots. Doh. When they start growing I’ll have to make a better note of this.

Weather is a bit of a problem at the moment, with it being so mild the Dahlias are still growing and flowering, not ready to be lifted. Blocking tulip and wallflower planting. So, I have some of the bare root wallflowers in pots of compost, and some spare bulbs waiting in the wings.

Many of the bare root wallflowers from Mr Fothergills look pretty floppy and unhealthy right now, despite lots of rain. Let’s give them a chance though and see what they’re like in a few weeks.

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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