Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.
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Due to the way the weather has behaved, bedding plants have lasted much longer, and it seems a shame to clear the plants ready for spring bulbs. But don’t panic, still plant out narcissus (daffodil) bulbs even if a little late.

Walk down any street in March and April and it is easy to see that narcissus is our most popular spring flower, but it came as a surprise when a survey was carried out which showed it is also our overall favourite flower, beating even the rose.

Not everyone realises the range of shapes, sizes and colours available.

The height of narcissus can vary from three inches to two foot, and the colours include oranges, pinks, apricots and reds as well as the familiar white and yellows.

Which ones to plant?

The best policy I find is to go for the dwarf growing varieties because they don’t get ravaged by the winds and rains as the taller ones do.

N.cyclamineus has the typical cup and petals but the petals are turned back. This hardy bulb comes from Spain and Portugal and is only eight inches tall so is ideal for rockeries. It flowers in early spring.

One of the favourites in everyone’s garden is the low growing narcissus tete-a-tete. These, along with N.minnow, are ideal for growing in pots.

Taller ones, in the range of six to 18 inches, include Mount Hood, Spellbinder, King Alfred, Topolino and Bravoure.

In the 12 to 24 inch range are Carlton, Desdemona, Edward Buxton, Prof Einstein and Barrett Browning.

When planting bulbs place a little coarse sand in the holes to ensure the bulbs don’t rot before growth starts and rake in some blood, fish and bone to make sure they get a good start.

I have just scratched the surface of varieties of narcissus available, but when purchasing the height will be on the packet and if your garden is exposed to the winds don’t buy the taller ones.

Tulips are also a source of both brilliant and subdued colours.

The dwarf varieties of four inches flower in early March through to May. A couple are Red Riding Hood and Stresa.

Taller ones include Queen of the Night, San Marino and West Point.

The same planting methods should be used for tulip bulbs as daffodil bulbs.

Another spring bulb, muscari (grape hyacinth) is best grown in pots with the pots buried in soil.

The reason for this is that if grown in the open garden they will take over.

The most popular variety is the blue Armeniacum. There is also the white Botryoides Album.

Hyacinths are probably the best indoor spring flowering plant, but outdoors they make a very neat growth. They have a long flowering period, a wide range of colours and a sweet smell.