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Drifts of daffodils, snowdrops and crocus in open grass are one of the classic signs of spring. Although they look like the work of nature, they are simple to create and will last for many years.
Naturalising bulbs is a great way to brighten up lawns, verges and wildflower areas in spring. In areas of grass, choose bulbs that complete their growing and flowering early, such as crocus. Most daffodils also do well in grass, but leave at least six weeks after flowering before mowing, and ideally leave until foliage goes yellow and straw-like.
Naturalised bulbs can also give interest to areas of the garden that otherwise might not bloom. Under deciduous trees, where the conditions are too dry and shady for most plants, you can use spring- or autumn-flowering bulbs because they are in growth when the trees have few leaves to cast shade. Suitable choices include anemones, crocuses, scillas and hardy cyclamen, such as C. hederifolium and C. coum.
Most of the larger trumpet and large cupped daffodil hybrids will naturalise well.
Established cultivars suitable for taller grass include:
Spring-flowering bulbs should be planted in autumn. This will ensure that, if you are planting into turf, it quickly re-roots rather than dying back in dry or frosty weather.
Summer-flowering bulbs can be planted in autumn if they are hardy (Camassia, for example), or in spring if they are more tender, such as Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus.
This method works equally well in borders as in lawns and wildflower areas:
When planting small bulbs, such as crocuses, in areas of grass, lift or roll back sections of turf. Fork over the soil and add a little balanced fertiliser, such as Growmore. If possible, score the underside of the turf with a hand fork to loosen the soil before replacing it. Firm the turf by hand or by gently tamping with the back of a rake.
There aren’t many problems to watch out for, apart from checking that the bulbs are healthy to start with (discarding any that are soft or show signs of rot).
However, the following can be troublesome at times: slugs, snails, squirrels (particularly with tulips and crocus), daffodil viruses, tulip viruses, snowdrop grey mould and narcissus basal rot.
BulbsBulbs: plantingBulbs: propagationDaffodil blindnessRHS video: Naturalising bulbsWildflower meadow: establishment
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