BULBS

Directions for garden planting and culture for the bulb family are given under alphabetical entries. The general rules of culture may be summed up: till soil well after removing summer bedding plants and fork over to reduce soil to workable tilth. When planting, a better effect is obtained by grouping. Keep grass from edges. In each hole bed the bulb on a spoonful of sand and generally give a light dressing of compost. Take account in planting of height, flowering time and colours. Difficulty is experienced in locating bulbs after flowering; put in twigs, which will be inconspicuous among summer bedding plants, and in autumn the bulbs will not be injured by digging.

Lift bulbs when leaves have faded. If it is necessary to move them while the leaves are green, they must be taken up carefully, replanted on a spare border, and left until the leaves change colour. Many experienced growers find that finer flowers are the reward of planting in August or September rather than later in the autumn.

Bulbs in Rough Grass:

So long as couch grass, ground elder and all deep-rooted weeds are removed, success may be expected and no further trouble need be expended to assure a display year after year. When the bulbs have been put in, the turves can be reinstated, but when rolling them back, thrust a twig through just over where each bulb is situated, so that, after pressing turves into place, small holes can be made over each bulb, as indicated by the twigs. Another method is to use a tool known as a bulb planter, but the underlying couch grass and weed roots and runners are obviously not eradicated.

Bulbs in Bowls:

Select bulbs in early autumn. Bulb fibre is an excellent medium for bowl culture. This fibre needs to be thoroughly soaked by immersion in water, squeezed out, and enough put in each bowl for the bulbs to stand in without touching — overcrowding is a fatal mistake. The bulbs should be placed firmly, with the tips just showing, and more fibre packed round them so that the bowls are nearly full. Some small lumps of charcoal form the best drainage at the bottom of the bowls. An alternative method of fibre planting is: the fibre should first be slightly damped, then place a layer of lump charcoal in the bottom of the bowl, and upon this a layer of the compost, 2 or 3 in. deep. Into this insert the bulbs, taking care not to press them down too firmly or the roots will be unable to penetrate the compost, then fill up with more compost to within 1 in. of the top and sprinkle with water until the whole is thoroughly damp, but not sodden, and the operation is complete.

Whichever method is adopted, the bowls should be placed in a cool dark room or cupboard, where the air circulates freely, but from which frost can be excluded in order to encourage root action, and during this period they should be examined periodically and watered when necessary. At the end of 6 or 8 weeks the bulbs should be well rooted, and will probably have made an inch or more of top growth; they may then be removed to the room in which they are to flower, placing them close to the window to keep the foliage dwarf and sturdy. As they come into bloom, rather more water will be required, and the condition to be aimed at is one of uniform dampness. Do not water when fibre surface is still damp, but when watering, do it thoroughly.

Bulbs to Grow:

Full cultural instructions will be found under the various entries. Allium, bulbocodium, camassia (Quamash), chionodoxa, colchicum, crinum, crocus, cyclamen, daffodil, erythronium, freesia, fritillaria, gladiolus, hyacinth, iris, ixia, ixiolirion, leucojum, lilies, montbretia, muscari, ranunculus, schizostylis, scilla, sisyrinchium, snowdrop, sparaxis, sternbergia, tigridia, tritonia, tulip, winter aconite (eranthis).

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