For spring colour – just add bulbs!

Now that the clocks have changed and the last of the leaves are being blown off the trees by autumn winds and heavy showers, it’s hard not to get a little down by the thought of a dreary winter with nothing
bright to look forward to for months.

The best way to counter the dullness of winter is to add a measure of hope for the coming spring. Spring bulbs fight their way through the cold hard ground to give us cheers just when it’s most needed. Here are some of our favourite spring bulbs to add to your garden now, to cheer you up in a few months time and give real impact to your spring garden.

Tulipa ‘Black Hero’ and ‘Purple Dream’.


Tulips are wonderful, as they come in a vast arrange of shapes and colours. Do be aware though, that most tulips are bred to only flower at their best once, so are not designed to come back year after year. If you’re planting tulips for a splash of bright colour, we’d advise to do this in pots close to the house, so you can enjoy them despite the cold weather we sometimes get in spring. Choose a couple of varieties that contrast in both colour and form, as we’ve done here in this cutting garden, but check to make sure they both will flower at the same time and be of similar height too.

Camassia leichtlinii
Camassia leichtlinii


Less well known are Camassias, which are a spring bulb of similar impact to the tulips, with large tall spikes of flowers, which last for about a month. Flowers open from the base of the spike upwards, and come in a cool colour range from purple-blue to pure white. They enjoy a more damp soil than Tulips, and so can be planted into borders to mix well with the emerging foliage of perennials, and mature shrubs. They can also take a fair amount of shade, so can be evenly planted across a sunny garden with shady corners. In this instance, we planted them with the silver grey foliage of artichokes and low ground cover of Ajuga, which are the darker blue flower spikes to the right.

Alliums in spring
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’


Alliums are an absolute must-have in our book. They add such a pure form, deep purple globes floating gently above the emerging spring foliage of perennials, and are happy in full sun or dappled shade. The only downside is that their foliage goes tatty before the flowers truly open, so it’s best not to plant them right on the edge of the border, hide them in and amongst emerging perennials. You can tidy up the yellowing foliage if you want. There are lots of different types of alliums, some are huge balls of silvery lilac stars, others bi-coloured drumsticks that flower later in summer. From pure white to deep purple, there’s an allium for every garden.

Leucojum aestivum

Summer Snowflakes

Leucojum aestivum, also known as Summer Snowflakes, are like a giant snowdrop, flowering a little later, and with much more impact because of their size. They can withstand full sun or shade, and even thrive in boggy conditions, so there’s really no excuse not to pop some of these little bulbs of joy around your garden now, to enjoy next March and April.

Other bulbs to consider for colour and form

Gladiolus murielae
Gladiolus murielae

There are lots of other type of bulbs to enjoy, from tiny crocuses in early spring, through to summer flowering bulbs to add a shot of colour and interest into the garden later on. We even have beautiful Gladiolus murielae in pots flowering from August into November, to enjoy from the house. For more advice on what to plant where and when, and how to make the most of the planting beds in your garden, get in touch with Chiltern Garden Design.