Spring collection
Kiran Narain

Freezias are prized by flower arrangers
Freezias are prized by flower arrangers 

There is nothing more enchanting than spring flowering bulbs growing in clumps, beds or containers of different shapes and forms. Bulbs are small wonders of pre-packed energy requiring little attention — planting at the right time at correct depth, picking the right situation and good drainage.

You can enjoy a bright flower — strewn spring at home if you have planned a display of such bulbs. These can even be grown in small containers. August and September is the right time to plan the spring display as also to order the bulbs of top quality from a reliable source for a steady splash of colour.

Among the most elegant of bulbous plants are: anemones, cyclamen, daffodils, freesias, grape hyacinth, hyacinth, Dutch iris, ixias, Narcissi, ornithogalum, ranunculus and sparaxis.

Anemone Coronaria: St Brigid is a popular plant which grows from claw-shaped tubers. A stupendous mixture of about 2 inches flowers in blues, mauves, reds, pinks and whites, generally with contrasting centres, they make good cut-flowers which should always be cut with a sharp knife or scissors or else the crown of the tubers may be snapped. They do well in full or partial sun in well-drained soil.

Cyclamen persicum or Persian cyclamen has pink, red, lavender or white flowers and plain or marbled foliage. Puck or the florist’s cyclamen is a hybrid which is popular for its 2 inch fancy flowers on six to eight inches plants which bear bloom for many months. They make handsome potted plants. Plant the corms a couple of inches below the surface. It loves lime in the soil. Water from the side of the plant. Avoid wetting the central growth.

Daffodils and Narcissi: Extensive interbreeding has obliterated most of the differences in the two plants and one can easily treat them the same way. Early varieties like Narcissus tazetta, double Narcissus or Narcissus paper white are the varieties that do well in the plains and are also fragrant. Trumpet daffodils also do well. These also grow well in pots and are popular houseplants. Start planting them at 15 days intervals from end August onwards.

Freesias: One of the most beautiful and scented spring flowering bulbs, Freezia is highly recommended for gardens in northern plains. Available in a vast choice of colours, some of the new hybrids may be almost scentless. Nonetheless, the arching stems of graceful tubular flowers look beautiful and are long lasting. They are prized by flower arrangers who love the exquisite contours of the stem in addition to the rich pastel tones of the flowers that lend grace to any flower arrangement.

Equal parts of sandy loam, leaf mould and well crumbled farmyard manure make a good compost for freesias, which can grow in any warm sheltered place during the winters. As they need cool conditions to form buds, it is a good idea to grow them in pots, which can be moved according to the conditions required. A little bone meal for coloured ones will add to their luster. Plant them at regular intervals from end September onwards to obtain a succession of blooms.

Grape Hyacinths or Muscari have tiny sweet-scented blossoms on short spikes up to six to nine inches tall. Good for pots or rock gardens, plant three inches apart and cover with about three inches soil. These can be grown as a houseplant with a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight. Grow like Hyacinths.

Hyacinths have a sweet haunting fragrance and lovely flowers in white, pinks, reds, blues and purples on stout stems. Grow them in pots only in a mixture of 1 part moss, 1 part garden soil, 1 part sand and some ground limestone, keeping the mixture very moist while they are growing. They are also grown in hyacinth – glasses in water alone.