A useful job for March

Spring continues to make its presence felt, days getting longer, a bit warmer and the earliest flowering bulbs providing a boost in garden colour. At this point I not only enjoy their beauty but also scan a critical eye over things I could have done better or different.

Towards the end of the growing season when the spring flowering bulbs hit the shop shelves, the garden is still in full bloom and often one cannot think where to place these bulbs in their attractive pictorial packaging and their price not too bad.

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When the garden is in full bloom and the bulbs are on the shop shelves one can find it difficult to think of the garden during the winter needing an early splash of colour. 

At this time of year I am able to note areas that would benefit from a splash of spring colour and equally areas where bulbs don’t look right. Here is where my note book and camera phone comes in handy (see Items I always keep within reach).

My favourite place to naturalise spring flowering bulbs are under deciduous trees and shrubs. I also plant hellebores and primulas here where they do not get in the way later in the year when no longer performing centre stage.  Colourful bulbs beneath the bare architectural framework of woody trees and shrubs enhance the picture. When they pass over they are protected by the emerging leaf canopy. Under shrubs and trees they are left relatively undisturbed to colonise and increase in number as their protectors mature. Here there is much less risk of them being weeded out or dug up during planting operations and randomly replanted which often results in them looking like tiny out of place colourful islands in barren sea of winter soil.

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Snowdrops “naturalised “under a newly planted decidious shrub enhancing is bare look. As the shrub matures the snowdrops will bulk up with it.

Now is the time I lift these loners and replace them in better positions. Most of us know it is safe to lift snowdrops in the green but I happily lift daffodils, crocuses etc in flower which I think are in the wrong place and immediately re-plant them elsewhere successfully. Sometimes they look a little bedraggled but perk up fine the following year, a benefit perhaps of our moist free draining soil.

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Snowdrops naturalised next to the groundcover Waldsteinia ternata. As both mature the snowdrops will come through the 10cm tall  Waldsteinia which latter in the year is covered in masses of small yellow flowers. 

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