Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest

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By Steve Malsher

You can never be too prepared, so why not spend some time this autumn thinking about what you want your garden to look like next year? In my last blog, I talked about early to mid-spring bulbs, and this time I would like to share some of my favourites for late spring and early summer interest.

Firstly, I would like to share my top tip for planting bulbs in an established border. The first thing I do is use marker paint to set out a line for the swathes of bulbs I am going to plant and set out the bulbs along those lines. Then, when setting out the rest of the bulbs, I circle them with marker paint. Here’s why:

  1. You will have a visual reference to how the planting looks in the scheme.
  2. You won’t miss any bulbs you have placed (Some are quite small and well camouflaged against the soil).
  3. Once this is done you can start planting the bulbs at three times the depth of the bulb, working from the back of the border to the front. This time of year borders are generally wet so working in this manner avoids compacting the soil over bulbs you have planted.
Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest
Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest

Alliums

There are now so many to choose from, and some really weird and wild forms. Alas, on this I am a bit of a traditionalist and prefer older forms such as Allium ‘Azureum’, which flowers in June and July and is a real treat coming in at 60cm high.

Allium ‘Graceful Beauty’ is a white variety with delicate flowers and purple anthers, which will grow up to 30cm in June. Ideally, these should be planted at the front or middle of the border, and they also do well as a cut flower.

The third and final Allium I will suggest is ‘Purple Rain’. These have a fantastic impact on gardens and flower from May to June, standing 1 metre high, with a flower ball of 15cm above a really sturdy stem. These work equally well in a border or a container.

Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest
Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest
Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest

Camassia

It’s no surprise why I have also picked these. Imagine allium flowers on an upright spike… The result is Camassia, coming in two types: blue Camassia and white Camassia.

The white form (Camassia leichtlinii ‘Alba’) normally flowers first from April to May, and does not mind full sun or partial shade, growing to 90cm.

Camassia quamash is the blue variety flowering May to June and getting to a height of 60cm. Again, these plants do not mind full sun or part shade.

Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest
Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest

Fritillaria

Fritillaria melagris, the Snake Head Fritillary, is an ever-popular plant that can be bought as bulbs or in small pots. These are great for naturalising and don’t mind damp areas of a garden. Flowering in April/May, their bowed petals have a snake-like skin appearance.

Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest
Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest

I can’t think of a better way to spend lockdown 2.0 than planning and planting bulbs, looking forward to a bright new spring and summer garden. I hope you have liked my selections of bulbs over the last few blogs. All are available at Nicholsons, so please do visit us, or call us on 01869 340342 (option 5) to speak to our friendly team. We are here to help!

Bulbs for Late Spring and Summer Interest