Simply splendid spring bulbs

If you're anything like me, you still want a bit of bright colour and variation in your garden, even during the winter months and particularly during spring.

And annuals and perennials are the perfect solution. Mix in a smattering of bulbs, add a dash of compost and mulch, and you've got a recipe for a 'winter gardening sensation'.

Bulbs love a good cold winter. If they don't get cold enough during winter they won't flower properly in spring.

So, to give your tulips and hyacinths the best head start put your bulbs in a paper bag and store them in the fridge until you're ready to plant sometime in autumn. For more details and tips on why and how to chill your bulbs check out this fact sheet from NZ Bulbs.

Haven't got any bulbs yet? For spring-flowering bulbs to brighten up your garden, you can't go past the wide range offered by NZ Bulbs. Located in Feilding, not far from us, they have spring-flowering bulbs available for ordering (season dependent). From anemones to tulips, NZ Bulbs have the widest range and latest releases available.

Now to prepare your soil.

First, remove any low branches from the trees under which you want to plant.

This will give the bulbs and seedlings room to grow and ensure they receive enough light.

Trees remove quite a lot of nutrients from the soil, so I recommend digging in a mix of compost and nitrosphoska blue to a depth of about 300mm.

I also recommend using a bulb basket (available at your local garden centre) to ensure your bulbs don't sink too far in the soil and rot during summer.

Some bulbs, such as tulips, have a tendency to sink and rot while lying dormant, especially if the soil is heavy and wet. A bulb basket means once the bulbs have finished flowering, you need only remove the basket and store it in the garage until next winter.

Now you need to decide what to plant.

Bluebells, hyacinths, tulips, snowdrops, anemones, daffodils and fritillarias (snakesheads) are ideal for planting in woodlands because they love the shade.

Simply fill your basket with potting mix and plant the bulbs as deep as the length of the bulb to protect it from frost. For example, if your bulb is 40mm long, plant the top 40mm under the soil.

Then dig a hole next to your trees. The hole should be double the depth of the basket. Drop the basket in the ground and bury it.

To ensure your garden is full of colour while you wait for spring to arrive, simply plant a selection of annuals and perennials on top of the bulbs.

Awapuni has a wide selection of both annuals and perennials available at Bunnings, The Warehouse, your local supermarket or from our online store. Remember, you can grabs some bulbs simply by visiting NZ Bulbs.

For an awe-inspiring garden of annuals set in the shade, I recommend primulas, polyanthus, cinirarias, anthirrhinums and wallflowers.

And for shade perfect perennials, I suggest foxgloves, russell lupin, geum, poppies and aquilegias.

Simply plant as per the instructions provided with each Awapuni Nurseries' plant. The easy to follow instructions tell you how deep and how far apart to plant each seedling, as well as how high they will grow.

Remember, a healthy layer of organic mulch (available from garden centres) around your seedlings will prevent weeds, retain moisture and add nutrients to the soil.

Water with a soak hose to prevent the transfer of fungal diseases and, lastly, remove spent flowers to ensure a garden that blooms brightly all year round.

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