Planning ahead for Early Spring Flowers

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Bulbs need a period of cold for them to bloom

Gardening is a planning game. In fact dreaming about your garden, planning how it will look, and planning what you’ll eat is one of the best things about it. Every seed and every plant has its own needs and knowing them is part of becoming a gardener. You can’t just plant a seed at any old time and expect it to grow. The same goes for flower bulbs and they need a period of cold for them to bloom in spring. That’s why we plant them in the autumn and early winter.

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Planning ahead for early spring flowers - bulbs need a period of cold for them to bloom in spring. That's why we plant them in the autumn and early winter.

Spring Flowers for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Though I’m mainly an edible gardener I have a small flower patch at home and grow some flowers in pots. The most important for me are early spring flowers like snowdrops, crocus, iris, and tulips. I need a little bit of cheer in the early part of the year.

Being so far north means that in the winter we can have as little as 7.5 hours of daylight. Daylight from a sun that hangs low in the sky and often filters through dark and stormy clouds. My mood and energy levels are strongly dictated by the light and I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder in late winter. Having pots of colorful flowers by the door lifts my spirits and reminds me that the days are getting longer.

Planning ahead for early spring flowers - bulbs need a period of cold for them to bloom in spring. That's why we plant them in the autumn and early winter.

The third layer of bulbs in this planter. On top of them went another layer of soil and fine gravel.

Layering bulbs in Terracotta Pots

I have about a half dozen pots filled with spring bulbs and this year I’ve added three more to the collection. I’ve chosen terracotta pots for their warm color and natural material and have planted each with three layers of bulbs. Layering means I’ll have a display that begins blooming  in February and lasts until late April and early May. A couple of years ago I published instructions on how to layer bulbs here.

The basic idea is packing a small container with as many bulbs as it can support. Each pot will become a riot of color and crisp spring foliage that can’t help but put a smile on your face. That’s why I put them in areas where I frequently walk past.

Planting flowering bulbs by the door

Placing Pots by the Door

Many of my pots are on the walk between the kitchen door and my office door which is just below — I love having such a short commute. The new ones I’ve placed by the doorstep and the walk up from the gate. Nothing but a layer of fine gravel decorates the tops of them but it won’t be long before hardy green shoots start appearing. Telling from the frost that keeps appearing on the lawn it’s going to be a long and cold winter for these parts. All the more reason to dream about those spring blossoms.

Frost on the Isle of Man

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