Friday 6 March 2015

Planning Ahead Bulbs For Summer Joy !

Purple Allium flower

Things are just starting to get busy in the garden! Spring flowers are bursting forth everywhere. The birds are busy gathering nesting material and staking out territory. 

No sooner do I see the first crocus bloom than I start to think of what I need to plant for summer flowers.

I wish I was a very organised gardener! It is always a happy surprise for me when shoots come up  :) For a  while, I have no idea what they are as of course I did not label or do a plan of where I planted the bulbs last year. I know I should but then of course I would not have the joy of excuse anyway!

Planting Summer Bulbs

I love to plant summer bulbs in several different ways. I love to have some for cutting for flowers in the house. If you want to do this I would advise timing your planting so that you plant a batch then leave it and plant more a week or two later, then more a week or two after that. In this way, you will have flowers coming up for many weeks which you can cut for the home.

I also like to plant in pots so that I can move them around to the front of the house or into really sunny spots if that is what they need. Sometimes I will dig a hole and then sink the pot into the hole so that I can move it again when flowering is over.

Then I plant in the ground as well to fill up the borders. I do have to be careful planting in our heavy clay as even with improvement to the soil some bulbs do not like it at all and refuse to come up or rot in the ground.

White Lily Flowers 

So I am careful how I plant making a very large planting area and improving with lots of grit and light compost. It is important not to make a "sump" of a small hole water is attracted to, so it must be a large area. If I do this properly, however, then usually the bulbs are successful. 

The other way is to choose plants that love heavy clay and moisture so I have to do my homework and choose carefully. It is always easier if we go with plants that love our soil and position in the garden or as often I just love the flower, I simply use pots.

Often it is advised to start planting summer bulbs like freesias and begonias indoors for a while. I have never done this as I would quickly run out of room. So I order everything or buy from garden centers and then wait with anticipation until I think the last frosts have passed to then plant out my bulbs.

Favorite Summer Bulbs And Wildlife

There is so much choice and so beautiful but you need to start thinking now what it is you would love to have in the garden and what may be good for the wildlife too. A  wide variety of flowers is better than just a single type.

Also try to get a spread of flowers across the whole of spring and summer and all the seasons so that the bees, birds, butterflies, moths and all the other creatures have something to eat, shade and shelter all year round. A corridor of flowers all over the garden they can travel between is lovely for them.

Red hot poker flowers

If you have big gaps in the garden with no flowers at certain times of the year this is not good for the wildlife. Try to plant to keep it going all Spring and summer, even into the autumn if possible where you live. 

Summer bulbs and corms that are very useful to bees , in particular, include Alliums, Crocosmia, Star of Bethlehem and the Red Hot Poker. I also always think of how each flower can contribute to the garden wildlife. 

I am sadly lacking in Star of Bethlehem and Red hot poker but I do have an abundance of crocosmia. However, our crocosmia (although a summer flowering bulb) seem to always flower in early autumn. A welcome sight as they are bright red and just lovely but I do not feel I can include them in my summer flowers - unless they start to get going a little earlier!   

I have so many favorite flowers and bulbs, here are just three that I love to grow in my garden. No doubt over time I will discuss the others!



I adore Alliums and am gradually getting more in the garden. Beautiful spheres of blooms in purples and whites followed by amazing seedheads for even further interest. They love sunny, well-drained positions so I a limited where I can grow mine but they flourish in the right place. 

They are wonderful mid-summer flowers, just when you need a new flower to look at. I find my bees love these Alliums and often find quite a few balanced on the round heads, so a good plant to grow for our bees.

Oriental Lilies


Very showy, center stage plants. I have a few of these and last year rescued some sorry looking specimens from the garden center. I cannot resist a poorly looking neglected plant to nurse back to health and most times I am successful :) Just check they are not diseased of course but mainly in garden centers its lack of care and water,  which if they are not too far gone can be rectified. So I will see how these do this year.

Moths love my lilies so these are good to grow. Mice do seem to like the bulbs as well so I do keep a watch for this! Of course, if you are interested in wildlife do not get the pollen-free varieties, we need the pollen! I have read that Stargazer lilies are not so attractive to wildlife so do your homework and choose carefully.



Attractive to butterflies and bees and birds seem to like Freesias as well. I find that I need to plant new bulbs each spring as they do not seem to come up again if I leave them in a pot or in the ground. They are really half-hardy I think but I treat them as an annual rather than a perennial. They are one of my favorite flowers though so I don't mind too much buying them each year.

 As I do not have a greenhouse I have to grow Freesias outside in a sunny sheltered spot. I simply love the fragrance and their lovely arching habit. I leave some for the wildlife and some are taken indoors for the home. So I do plant these in succession over a few weeks so we can have them in the garden and home for longer. 

There are many more lovely choices for Summer Bulbs which you and the wildlife will love. Simply do a little research, try growing a variety of summer bulbs and plants and see what is successful for you and what the wildlife love where you live. 

Which summer flowering bulbs or plants do you love best?  Are you thinking of planting out bulbs or plants for summer flowers?

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