Colourful Spring & Summer Flowering Bulbs
If you’re in need of some early summer cheer, I’ve got a stack of photographs I’ve taken of vibrant and flamboyant flowers that I hope will brighten up your day!
Last autumn, Dutch Grown sent me some of their bulbs to trial. I’m sharing my photographs I’ve taken of these flowers along with some info about each of the plants to help you, if you’re considering planting bulbs this autumn.
Narcissus ‘Bright Jewel’
Narcissus ‘Bright Jewel’ certainly is a loud and proud daffodil. If you like bright colours in the garden, then this is the daffodil for you!
These Narcissus ‘Bright Jewel’ bulbs flowered in April, so the blooms have faded now. Most daffodils will reliably flower every year, provided their leaves are left untouched and the plants receive enough water and nutrients as they are dying back. If you want to enjoy daffodil flowers every year then take the time to water your bulbs in dry weather while your plants are in bud, during their flowering period, and especially as your daffodils’ flowers and leaves are fading.
Don’t be tempted to cut off your daffodil leaves before they have completely withered away. I leave all my daffodil leaves to die back in the garden.
There’s absolutely no need to tie your daffodil leaves into a knot after the flowers fade (or at any time). Knotting daffodil leaves really doesn’t do anyone any good – it looks absolutely hideous in the garden and it’s harmful to the daffodils, too. Restricting the daffodil’s foliage in this manner damages the leaves and prevents each leaf from photosynthesising as effectively, which stops the daffodil bulbs from receiving as much energy as they would have received from untied leaves.
If you’re growing bulbs in your garden, it’s worth giving your bulbs a mulch of good quality compost after planting. I’ve found that mulches of organic matter, home-made compost, or peat-free compost work exceptionally well on all soil types; they really do improve the soil and the growing conditions. However, nutrients and organic matter positively whizz through sandy soils! Mulches need replacing far more often in sandy soil compared to heavier soils (like clay soils); so adding another layer of compost around your plants in early springtime will help provide additional nutrients and water holding capacity for sandy and silty, free-draining soils.
Over the past few years, we’ve endured extended droughts in springtime in the UK that have left many of our daffodils without enough water to hydrate and nourish these plants and enable them to flower the following spring.
If you grow daffodils, don’t forget that your plants may still need you after their flowers begin to fade; as it’s critical that the bulbs receive sufficient water at this important stage of their growth.
I am particularly fond of fragrant flowers and I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating scented daffodils – I’ve run many Daffodil Trials over the years. Narcissus ‘Bright Jewel’ have a light to medium strength perfume, which has a definite aniseed character. It’s a sweet and pleasing fragrance that perfumes the air around the plants on a warm spring day.
At certain times of day when the sunlight is at a particular angle, Narcissus ‘Bright Jewel’ flowers appear fluorescent! These flowers are colourful and vibrant, with a real intensity of colour at any time of day, but Narcissus ‘Bright Jewel’ flowers’ colouring is more pronounced at certain moments.
‘Bright Jewel’ flowers are fully accessible to bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and other pollinating insects, which is great. However, I spent quite a bit of time around these daffodils while they were blooming and during this time I only spotted one hoverfly enter the flowers; no butterflies or bees went near these blooms while I was there. If you’re interested in growing bulbs with flowers for bees, read on – as I have some fabulous ideas! (I’ve also devoted a section of my website to plants for pollinators).
Narcissus ‘Art Design’
Narcissus ‘Art Design’ flowers are as frilly and frou-frou as a daffodil can be! These blooms are not in any way accessible to bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects!
I was surprised at how strong these Narcissus ‘Art Design’ flowering stems are. Narcissus ‘Art Design’ flowers are large, each bloom is so utterly jam-packed with petals that they seem semi-solid and are very heavy; yet although the blooms have a tendency to lean forward slightly, none of their flowering stems snapped.
Being completely honest with you, I much prefer to grow plants with accessible flowers; as I love to grow plants for bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies, but if you favour double flowers then Narcissus ‘Art Design’ is a great variety with strong, sturdy stems and large, long-lasting blooms.
Many daffodil cultivars produce flowers that change colour as they age. Narcissus ‘Art Design’ flowers open as a very soft pastel yellow and cream but soon age to a soft peach and parchment colour. I found that both tones of flowers were present in my containers, which for me, really adds to this variety’s appeal.
The size and condition of the bulbs you buy will affect their flowering; always buy the best largest and best quality bulbs you can find. Avoid bulbs that are damaged, soft and mouldy, or dried and desiccated. Dutch Grown sent me all the bulbs you can see in this update; this company sell top-sized bulbs.
There are a vast range of daffodils available to gardeners. We can grow daffodils in all shapes and sizes, you could grow daffodil flowers in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, white, and cream. If you’re interested in seeing pictures and info on different daffodil cultivars, please click here.
In my garden, these Narcissus ‘Art Design’ flowers lasted for a few weeks; the flowers proved to be far more robust than I was expecting. Large headed daffodils often snap or bend in the wind, making them look rather scrappy but Narcissus ‘Art Design’ flowers are held on pretty strong stems, meaning they’re less likely to collapse under their own weight.
I couldn’t detect any scent from my Narcissus ‘Art Design’ flowers. (If you’re interested in scented daffodils, you’ll find some varieties with superb scents in this article.)
Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’
Now for another flamboyant flower, this is Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’; its leafy bracts are rather like the top of a pineapple. These plants have a very striking look, they add a very exotic feel to the garden.
I think the contrast between the inky purple stem and the golden yellow, purple, and orange coloured flower buds is very handsome indeed.
Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ are very full on flowers; they’re sunny, cheerful, and upbeat!
This year we experienced a cold and rather dreary spring, yet Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ remained vibrant throughout.
Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ is a striking plant that stands boldly and automatically takes centre stage. I find that I see more of this plant’s beauty when take the time to inspect the flowers more closely.
These plants are also called ‘Crown Imperials’.
I was hoping to watch ‘Ken and Brenda’ (our Blue Tits) feeding from these Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ flowers. I even had my camera set up to record remotely while I was indoors, but no birds ventured near the flowers. Perhaps these birds hadn’t seen Fritillaries before and were unaware that these flowers are pollinated by Blue Tits who enjoy the Fritillaria imperialis flowers’ sweet nectar; or perhaps ‘Ken and Brenda Blue Tit’ visited the flowers and enjoyed the blooms while my camera wasn’t in position.
If you’re growing bulbs, do keep a look out for Lily Beetles. These insects can be incredibly detrimental to both Lilies and Fritillaries, devouring the foliage and destroying the plants in a relatively short period of time. It’s the adult beetles that do the most damage in the shortest space of time; although, thankfully, the adult Lily Beetles are bright red in colour, which makes them easy to spot.
If you discover a Lily Beetle on your Fritillaries, be warned: their clever get away plan is to instantly drop to the floor, landing upside down, on their backs. Although Lily Beetles are a vivid red colour when viewed from above, their undersides are black and so they’re difficult to spot when they land upside down on the soil, which aids their escape. However, if you pop an old white dust-sheet (or any light coloured material) down, and then inspect your plants, it will be much easier for you to spot a Lily Beetle, which ever way up they land.
Lily Beetles’ larvae are also naturally cunning in evading predators, they’re also utterly revolting: the larvae disguise and protect themselves by covering themselves in their own excrement. Check over the leaves of your Fritillaries and Lilies and look out for small brown lumps of goo – these are Lily Beetle larvae.
To remove Lily Beetle larvae, check the undersides of your plant’s leaves and wipe the larvae off.
I was unable to detect any perfume from these Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ flowers.
Narcissus ‘Pink Wonder’
Narcissus ‘Pink Wonder’ is another daffodil with colour changing flowers. The blooms open as a yellowing-orange colour, the flowers age to become a shade of pale peachy-pink shortly after opening.
If you’re growing pink flowered Narcissus and you’ve been disappointed by the lack of actual pink in the colouration of your daffodil’s flowers, try moving your plants to a brighter, sunnier area of your garden. I find that a greater intensity of light helps these daffodil’s flowers to develop their maximum pink colour.
I am particularly fond of scented daffodils and I’m always keen to discern a flower’s scent; unfortunately, I was unable to detect any perfume from these Narcissus ‘Pink Wonder’ blooms.
Although, Narcissus ‘Pink Wonder’ flowers are open and accessible to bees, hoverflies, and butterflies, I only spotted one insect go anywhere near these flowers – this was the most fleeting of visits that I captured in my photograph above.
Of all of the bulbs I’ve grown this year, Narcissus ‘Pink Wonder’ have attracted the most slugs and snails!
If you’ve been troubled with slugs and snails and you’re looking for ways to protect your plants, you might be interested to see the results from my Slug and Snail Trial.
Tulipa clusiana is a colourful and rather dainty bulb, but these slender flowers are dark horses that open up in the sunshine to become large, goblet-shaped flowers. At night-time the flowers contract again to form neatly closed buds.
I was unable to detect any perfume from these tulip flowers but Tulipa clusiana produce very sunny and cheerful blooms.
Tulipa clusiana and all the bulbs you can see in this update have been planted in containers of peat-free compost. My Tulipa clusiana bulbs are planted in Dalefoot bulb compost but I’ve also used Melcourt SylvaGrow, and Happy Compost.
The Alliums are my favourite of all the bulbs you’ve seen in this update. Alliums are such brilliant plants for bees and butterflies, making them a great choice for a wildlife garden!
‘Gladiator’ is a tall, statuesque Allium that produces absolutely fabulous purple flowers that are rather like pom-poms. These Alliums produce their leaves before their flowers, so by the time the plants are in bloom the foliage has often died back. This might look a little unsightly in a container without any companion planting, but in the border the plants growing in the same area will cover the leaves; besides you’ll only have eyes for the flowers!
Allium ‘Gladiator’ is a truly useful plant for gardeners – these plants are drought tolerant and thrive in free-draining, sandy or silty soils.
‘Gladiator’ Alliums have a long season of interest, as their flower heads become architectural seed heads as they age. Allium seed heads look fantastic in the garden, they also make wonderful dried flowers and Christmas decorations.
My Allium cristophii flowers are just starting to open. This is one of my favourite Alliums, I adore Allium cristophii flowers’ metallic sheen and I truly appreciate this Allium species’ ability to attract bees and other insects to my garden.
Haxnicks Bamboo Plant Markers
I used Haxnicks Bamboo Plant Markers to label all the bulbs you’ve seen in this update. These plant labels are made from bamboo, which is a wonderful idea. I promised to let you know how long these labels held up for; this is my first update and so far I’m really impressed! My labels are all outdoors, where they’re open to the elements – over the past six months these labels have experienced sunshine, wind, and rain, as well as snow and hailstorms. I can’t see any visible changes in these labels – they look as good as new. I used a marker pen to do the labelling – this has faded somewhat but it’s still readable at the moment.
I prefer using pencil to write plant labels, as I find pencil lasts longer than marker pen and isn’t made from plastic, but when these plant labels arrived I didn’t have a soft enough pencil to use – so I opted for marker pen instead.
To see all of my articles that mention Haxnicks bamboo plant markers, please click here.
Dutch Grown sent me all of these bulbs; to visit Dutch Bulbs’ website, please click here.
To read about the best performing daffodils in my scented daffodil trial, please click here.
For gardening advice for June, please click here.