Spring Garden Blues

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to have enough blue in the garden? Nature seems to favour yellows, pinks and whites, and even in the wild, blue and purple flowers tend to be outnumbered – with the exception of course, of the carpets of bluebells you might find in a deciduous woodland in springtime. I’m always looking for ways to

include more blue in the garden and in planting plans for my clients to redress the balance. At this time of year, one of the most reliable blues is the grape hyacinth -not to be confused with larger hyacinths or indeed the wild native bluebell, these are Muscari . Grown from little bulbs no bigger than a Malteser, they flower reliably year after year, so they’re a great investment and if you didn’t get around to planting the bulbs last autumn, many garden centres offer them in flower around now in pots. You can add them to container and window box displays with other seasonal flowers, and plant them out in the garden when flowering is over. They make lovely companions for small narcissi such as the well known ‘Tete a Tete’ and the equally small, paler yellow ‘Minnow’. White forms are available too, but for a splash of spring colour, I would vote for the blue every time.

Bright green leaves, narrow and strappy, will appear several weeks before the flowers do and can get a bit floppy and messy, so I’d be inclined to keep them to the middle of a border with something else in front that can disguise the foliage as it turns brown and dies down. Remember to always leave the foliage undisturbed, not just for these but for all spring bulbs – if you want them to flower again the following year – the nutrients stored in the leaves need to be drawn back down into the bulb for next year, which can’t happen if you chop them off. If you’ve had in the garden for several years the clumps may have become congested so you can lift them and carefully separate them before replanting, feeding and watering, for next year’s spring garden blues.

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