Now is the time for planting spring-flowering bulbs into the ground and your patio containers! It can be some much fun, as you can really play with colour and shapes. So, who better to ask about the best combinations than Harriet Rycroft. Harriet is a ‘Master-Mixer’, who has 14 years experience planting up memorable mixes at Whichford Pottery:
“I like to plant as many spring bulbs in my pots as I can afford, possibly a bit more than that… This is because I hate winter and the bulbs give me something to look forward to. My spirits start to rise as soon as I see the first shoots poking through the surface of the compost.
At Whichford (where most of the photos were taken), I would plant bulbs together with evergreen shrubs, perennials and bedding plants into containers every autumn, so that there was something for the visitors to look at all the way through the winter and spring. Often I would put 3 or 4 different kinds of bulb into the bigger containers, aiming to get flowers for several months from each planting.
I still use this ‘layering technique’ at home, as you can see here:
If you aren’t confident mixing lots of different plants and bulbs together in one container, try planting them in separate pots and placing those in groups. That way, if you don’t like the combinations you can change them around. I still often do this with bulbs or plants which are new to me – if I like them together maybe the next year I’ll try the same ones mixed together in a big pot.
The choice of colours and shapes is up to you – don’t worry about other people’s opinions, just have fun with it!
Whichever method you choose, think about the flowering times of each plant and bulb and about the height it will grow to, so that you get a long season and so that tall plants don’t hide short ones. I still make mistakes with this after nearly 20 years of planting professionally, but I make notes in an exercise book and hopefully my mistakes are getting less frequent…!”
Here are Harriet’s top 5!
Click on the first photo to kick off the gallery:
Harriet was the Head Gardener at Whichford Pottery for 14 years and planted thousands of pots in year-round displays. She now teaches online at My Garden School, blogs on her own site, and gives talks and practical demonstrations. Of course, still gardens at home.. and elsewhere. Harriet usually has about 300 pots on display in her own garden!