Bulbs are an essential part of any successful planting scheme but often appear overlooked, used in small quantities or spread sparsely through borders.

To provide the most striking effects plant bulbs in large groups, or bold sweeps for a more informal feel, toss them into the air and plant where they land to create the most natural, self sown appearance.

It’s best to avoid having too many species flowering at once as this creates a dotty effect, instead select a palette that will give a succession of flowers throughout the year, planting under later flowering perennials to fill any gaps in the border.

Below are just a few of the bulbs that we have selected and planted for clients this year.

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ & Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ & Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’

Pretty buttery yellow flowers that are darker toward the base are produced between February and March. Plant in full sun or part shade in well drained, not too fertile soil. These work very well planted in grass where they can be left to naturalise, but remember that you will need to wait around 6 weeks after flowering before mowing. They reach a ultimate height of 10cm.

Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’

A small elegant daffodil reaching just 20cm tall, with reflexed creamy-white perianth segments and contrasting bright yellow corona (or trumpet). They flower in March and April and are ideal for a lightly shaded spot with well drained soil.

Tulipa ‘Dordogne’ & Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’

Tulipa ‘Dordogne’ & Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’

Tulipa ‘Dordogne’

We have used these in a ‘hot’ border where the striking saffron yellow, blushed tangerine orange flowers will bring early interest between later flowering grasses and perennials. Flowers are produced from early May on sturdy stems to 60cm tall. Plant in well drained soil in full sun.

Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’

This deservedly popular Allium produces deep-purple globes of flowers held high on erect stems to 1m tall above strap-like foliage in early summer. Plant in well drained soil in full sun amongst other perennials to hide the dying foliage, as this goes over before the flowers appear.

Nectaroscordum siculum & Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’

Nectaroscordum siculum & Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’

Nectaroscordum siculum

This unusual ornamental onion looks stunning drifting through a slightly shaded border. In May and June tall upright stems are produced to 1.2m topped by an umbrella of  hanging bell-shaped creamy green flowers, flushed with red. As it can be planted in full sun or part shade this makes it a versatile plant to use across borders to link areas of the garden.

Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’

Rich, dark purple-black flowers are held on upright stems from April to May. These look particularly striking when planted en-masse or contrasted by white flowers in a ‘black and white’ scheme. Plant in well drained soil in full sun. Ultimate height 60cm.

Tulipa ‘Mount Tacoma’ & Allium sphaerocephalon

Tulipa ‘Mount Tacoma’ & Allium sphaerocephalon

Tulipa ‘Mount Tacoma’

Pinky-green buds open to large long lasting, creamy white double flowers in Early May. Also known as Paeony flowering tulips the flowers have an abundant old fashioned feel but still work in a more contemporary planting scheme. Grow in well drained soil in full sun. Ultimate height 40cm

Allium sphaerocephalon

Tall delicate stems to 60cm are topped by small egg shaped, deep purple flower heads in June and July. Plant in full sun and well drained soil. They look particularly impressive threaded through grasses where they appear to float above the foliage .

For the best selection of bulbs and larger pack sizes try specialist bulb suppliers such as Avon Bulbs or Jacques Amand.