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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

Sunny side up for spring! How to get a pop of colour with daffodils

Get that flush of colour that lights up our city parks and gardens every spring with a little forward planning.

Kevin Dennis

WE AL KNOW that early springtime brings a flush of colour with bulbs that light up our city parks and gardens. Something that has always fascinated me is the speed with which they grow! They arrive at an alarming rate and disappear just as quickly.

Why is this so? Well, a bulb is a storage unit of energy that sits dormant for most of the year but when its moment of stardom comes, it rushes up and puts on a fantastic show! Then bows out and retreats to dormancy for the remaining year.

Narcissus, or what we call daffodil, is probably the most popular and traditional bulb growing in our city gardens and parks. A bulbous herbaceous perennial with linear leaves and leafless stems bearing flowers with six spreading segments and a trumpet shaped corona. They are easy to grow, once they have good drainage and plenty of water, they are reliable and come in over a hundred different varieties.

Narcissus can be found in the most unusual places popping up from their hideouts with the sunniest colour of all!

There are some really unusual varieties available now. Did you know about the ‘Empress of Ireland’? A large white trumpet flowered daffodil up to 11cms wide! Some other varieties to try are ‘Jet Fire’ a smaller plant, at 20cms high, with yellow leaf flower and an orange trumpet or ‘Saint Patrick’s Day’ with a pale creamy yellow delicate cup.

Tips for planting bulbs 

Plant most bulbs from September to December before the first frost. Choose bulbs of good stock and they should be healthy and firm. The general rule of thumb is to plant a bulb three times its own depth beneath the soil. Make sure it is facing the correct way up, which is with the flat side down.

Free draining soil is best as they may rot in waterlogged soil and if planted in a sunny location it will help bulbs to thrive as most bulbs have originated from the Mediterranean.

Where to plant bulbs

If you have a very small city space then fill pots with bulbs. Whether it’s a small patio, balcony or even at your front door you can cheer up your family and friends with a colourful welcome.

Existing planted borders can be lifted by filling gaps between shrubs and emerging perennials. Place in a random pattern, which will look more natural and cohesive. They can be followed with flowering perennials throughout the summer.

Under trees can be really nice as the light catches the ground before the tree canopy comes into leaf. Crocuses are perfect in this situation and you can plant ten or a hundred.
Bulbs planted in drifts in lawns can create a natural effect in your garden. This is an emerging trend and bold colours such as blue can have a striking visual effect.

Kevin Dennis is a landscape designer with CityScape Gardener. Kevin was overall winner of Ireland’s 2014 Bloom Festival with his garden ‘City Life Garden’. His passion is taking urban areas and transforming them into places of beauty and calm.
Kevin is now following on with his Urban Greening Theme and is developing his ideas in city garden spaces.

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About the author:

Kevin Dennis

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