In late winter, snowdrops traditionally take centre stage, with enthusiasts hunting for new and rare variations of the delicate white and green blooms. However, there are many other early flowerers that will brighten the long, dark days with the promise of spring – you’ll just have to look down to spot them.
While some are well known – the likes of Cyclamen coum, crocuses and smaller early daffodils such as Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’ – there is a whole host of less familiar low-growers whose jewel tones will turn the garden into a treasure trove, including scillas, chionodoxas and erythronium. Small but brilliant, these tiny gems are guaranteed to bring some zing to your borders, pots and windowboxes. And while they might be diminutive, they punch well above their weight in terms of colour. Growing close to the ground, they bloom loud and proud, and are perfectly designed to catch those low rays of early spring sunshine. Many offer the added bonus of fragrance, and they are a great draw for early pollinators.
So many options
These mini marvels have the advantage of being highly versatile, too. Tiny grape hyacinths and Iris reticulata can easily be added to containers and squeezed into the front of borders. Or consider naturalising them in grass or woodland areas if you have space. Most look at their best planted densely in groups of a single type to maximise the impact of their small, intensely coloured flowers – think of a carpet of crocuses, bursting through a lawn; or window boxes and small, shallow containers crammed with masses of tiny pyramids of white, pale or deep blue muscari flowers.
Of course, like all spring flowering bulbs, they should ideally have been planted in autumn, to benefit from a period of cold. But many garden centres and nurseries will stock ready-potted collections at this time of year – you might even snap up a few bargains! It’s never too late to add in some lastminute spring colour, and you can easily drop these emerging bulbs into your containers or plunge the pots directly into borders – just as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
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January 11, 2020