The Collectors' Plant Fair is perfectly timed to plant spring bulbs. This year Easter is followed by the school holidays to give us the necessary down time in the garden.
Autumn is the only time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials as the soils are warm, the air is cooling off and rain is reliable. For us, one of our favourite garden rituals is the planting of spring flowering bulbs in autumn.
To help us with that, we have our friends at Tas Daffodils, Drewitts Bulbs, Club Creek Bulb Farm and Clover Hill Rare Plants coming to the Fair with their delectable smorgasbord of bulbs to choose from - daffodils, tulips, liliums, freesias, dutch iris, muscari, crocus, fritallaria, galanthus and scilla. Bulbs for every region and climate.
The only difficulty will be choosing.
Who doesn’t love the vibrant dazzle of massed tulips! What a shame they are such an indulgence for Sydney gardeners. We plant them every year for the pleasure of those bolshy blooms but the show only lasts a week or two in our often warm and windy spring. Compounding the problem - tulips can’t be convinced to flower again in warm areas as soil conditions never get cold enough. For a longer-lasting, less expensive bulb display that builds to become better and better each year, try these:
The drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) is little-known but worth seeking out. That’s it in the picture above, flowering in Linda’s garden. It flowers much later than other spring bulbs. The small rounded flower heads change from green to rich cerise over summer. We planted some about three years ago and they have grown into thick clumps.
Ixias flower in a mix of jewel-like colours. Once planted they will naturalise and delight you each spring. Look for one called ‘Duck Egg Blue’ (Ixia viridiflora). It’s a tone of teal blue quite unlike anything else in the garden. Ixia love the sun and need well-drained soil.
Babiana is tough and easy to grow, with a reward of magenta/blue flowers for no effort at all. Give them a sunny spot that is well-drained and don’t overwater - babiana hate to be wet. You can plant them in pots but remember, as with all bulbs, to leave the foliage to die down after flowering as the leaves produce food to strengthen the bulb. Cut them back once they have died off.
For cut flowers, ranunculus is the pick of the spring bulb bunch. Each tiny corm, which is a type of bulb, can produce up to 20 blooms. Plant each corm into just-moist soil in a sunny spot and don’t water until growth appears. Once the flowers open, keep cutting them to encourage more blooms.