When we moved here just over 10 years ago, the first 'vision' I had for my garden was masses of daffodils. It was the day after we'd moved in - on a cold, bleak February day - when I found out the steep bank at the side front of the house wasn't the responsibility of the local council, but was ours. As I watched the builders install the fence at the bottom of the slope to divide our lands, all I could see in my mind's eye was yellow. Later - in November - I took my first baby steps towards making the garden my own, by planting 3 large sacks of daffodils on that slope in the pouring rain. Their burst of brightness the next year was sufficient reward for my soaking.
Since then, I've literally poured bulbs into every corner of the garden: a thousand snowdrops bought in the green by NAH as a birthday present; various Alliums to add fireworks in May through July; Convallaria for scent in the woodland area; and Dahlias to remember childhood happy times as my dad organised the Dahlia and Chrysanthemum show at work, even though he didn't grow any himself. To that heady cocktail I've added crocuses (both spring and autumnal ones), Cyclamen, Muscari, Crocosmia, Gladioli, Anemone (blanda, coronaria and nemorosa), Iris reticulata, bluebells, tulips and winter aconites. And I love each and every one of them when they appear, as if by magic. Which one's my favourite? Whatever's flowering now. When times are good, I have bulbs in flower for 12 months of the year; when they're bad, then it's just for 10.
I've also learnt many things: that we usually use the term bulbs to cover a much wider range of plants which emanate from a fleshy, underground source - true bulbs, tubers, corms and rhizomes. I've found I care enough about the hope snowdrops give me in the depths of winter to count them each year. I've seen that the stems of the Allium family track the sun each day until their flowerheads become too heavy for them to do so. I've come to value Crocosmia not only for their richly hued flowers in the summer, but also for their sword-like leaves which glow in the morning sunshine, because I've put them in just the right spot without realising. I've noted daffodils are flowering up to 3 weeks earlier than when I first planted them here and that I can find their first shoots poking bravely through the soil on that darkest of days, the winter solstice. I've continued to love Dahlias even when most unfashionable, especially the dark leaved ones. There's lots more I could tell you, but I'll leave those stories for another day.
I decided last autumn I was in a bit of a rut which resulted in me ordering way too many tulips. I had to resort to growing them in lots of plastic pots as well as the terracotta ones I'd earmarked for the job. It's a technique I also plan to use later on this year. My newly planted Gladiolus byzantinus have flowered already and I'm also growing Nerines and Eucomis for the first time. I'm not in a position to show those yet. Instead you'll have to make do with the handsome foursome at the head of this article: this year's newbies in full flow at the moment - Begonia 'Bonfire', Dahlia 'Dark Star', Dahlia 'Dark Angel Rose' (there's also Red and Yellow versions still to flower) and an unknown yellow tuberous Begonia. The latter's a freebie from the company which supplied B. 'Bonfire' and the Eucomis :)
Do I like bulbs? You bet :D
BTW the other photos illustrating this piece are: Allium sphaerocephalon with ladybird* instead of the usual bee, Croscosmia 'Lucifer' and Dahlia 'Moonfire'.
*= the YAWA team have gently reminded me that ladybird=ladybug if you're reading this across the pond ;)