Jacob plans a surprise

Now almost 5, Jacob is becoming more adventurous in his garden. He knows that we have to plant bulbs in the autumn, so when he visited the garden shop, he chose some ‘lovely’ flowers that he wants to plant in his garden to surprise his mummy when they bloom in spring. His favourite colour is blue so he was very excited to find blue muscari and mini irises. So along with yellow daffodils and pink tulips he made a plan.

Spring bulbs are time bombs that are ready and waiting to explode just as your garden wakes up from the ‘big sleep’!

Jacob discovered that bulbs require very little effort and that they’re the easiest plants to grow – you simply dig a hole, pop in a bulb and wait! And whilst he’s waiting full of anticipation there are plenty of occasions to take his mind off his bulbs – Halloween, Guy Forks Night and Christmas not forgetting his birthday, as well as his dad’s in December. And when the fun is over Jacob knows his bulbs will be ready and waiting patiently to spring their surprise and magically colour the garden in an instant with uplifting displays that are guaranteed to beat the winter blues.

With authority he told his school teacher that you don’t even need a garden to grow bulbs! Jacob is planting his in window boxes and in pots on the patio. In flowerbeds and borders Jacob is also squeezing the bulbs into tiny gaps and planting them beneath ground cover to give an extra tier of colour.

I told him that the simplest ideas are often the most effective and planting a container filled with a single type of flower in one colour will always look stylish. Jacob’s favourite colour is blue, so he is planting a pot with Iris reticulata, which should flower is January and another with Muscari, and just one of the many excellent grape hyacinths.

For something a bit different he is following my advice and planting Anemone blanda, which will make a brilliant show of star-shaped flowers in shades pale and dark blue. The flowers, which are produced on 10cm stalks, are also known as windflowers because they dance in the slightest breeze.  Jacob soaked them overnight in tepid water before he planted them 5cm deep

One of the sunniest colours is yellow and as Jacob says it makes him feel happy, even on a dull day, he’s planting some daffodils. The plants can be used attractively in the garden with white and silver-leaved plants. Yellow daffodils can also add heat to red and orange flowers, or be used to intensify blues and purples.

His mummy, Jesse, likes pink and lilac shades, so he decided that he needed to ‘pretty up’ her border and give it a romantic feel with pots filled with tulips and hyacinths, which have a delicious sweet scent.

Jacob puts some gravel over the drainage hole to stop the compost being washed out and half fills in pots with compost

He checks the bulbs – he doesn’t want any that are mouldy or soft, and arranges them a few centimetres apart on the compost

After topping up the compost so that it covers the bulbs, Jacob waters them using his can with a rose so that it gently sprinkles water. He then puts them somewhere safe where his dog Jet wont knock the pots over when he gets excited!

To see your containers bulging with bulbs in spring you need to plant a double or even triple layer. Plant small bulbs such as anemone, scilla and muscari in a layer on top of larger bulbs such as hyacinths, daffodils and tulips and together they’ll create maximum impact.

Tulips can planted up to six weeks later than daffodils and up to the end of November, and even December.

Crocus is a great bulb for naturalizing in grass, simply throw them in the air and plant them where they land

In borders, plant all bulbs at least 5cm apart and at around three times their depth in bold groups in a flowerbed or lawn – permanent plantings must go deepest.

When planting on heavy soils put a layer of grit in the bottom of the planting hole to prevent the bulbs getting wet bottoms.

After covering the bulbs with crumbly, soil and marking the spot with a label, water them in to help the bulbs settle and close any air pockets.

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