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Bulbs and Shrubs for a spring garden

Updated on October 9, 2016
Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie loves gardening and spends many hours enjoying it with birds singing in the tree tops it is very relaxing and satisfying in my old age

Beautiful Range of Narcissus

Bulbs for a Spring Garden

It's Spring in New Zealand now, the bulbs for spring flowering 2016 have already popped their heads out and are in full bloom, even though it's nearly mid-October, they are late in my garden.

The dahlias bulbs which were dormant a couple of weeks ago are just starting to show growth with the warm weather we have had the last week.

Freesias are all looking good, they are a bit late this year after a very wet winter and little sun, but I can't wait to see them flowering especially that beautiful perfume that floats around in the spring, it feels so good.

If you want the feeling of spring in your garden, you need bulbs, that are best suited for your climate, there are bulbs for every garden, be it hot and dry or cool and moist.

Bulbs range from charming dwarf ideal for rock gardens to tall growers well suited to growing in association with trees and shrubs.

The beauty and diversity of bulbs make them fascinating subjects for garden use.

Few other groups of plants produce such a colorful display as effortlessly as bulbs.

My favorite is the Iris, in spring, closely followed by Daffodils (Narcissus).

We all know that when you see the Narcissus, spring is here.

Irises for a spring garden

Iris aphylla. Photo Credit -
Iris aphylla. Photo Credit -

There are scores of different species of irises and more appear each season, in fact irises is a genus of 260 -300 species of flowering plants with showy flowers, which never cease to amaze me, there beauty is from another world, and they fit in with any land scrape.

Bulbous Iris

There are English, Dutch and Spanish irises within this group.

The Dutch Iris produces larger blooms early in spring and plantings are usually made from February to May in New Zealand.

The English iris thrives in cold districts but needs good winter drainage, the flowers appear in Summer in various hues of blue, wine and white.

The Spanish iris, planted at the same time of the year as the Dutch irises, will flower in late spring and are ideal cut flowers.

All bulbous irises like a light rich soil and the bulbs should be lifted each year after the foliage has died down.

Other Iris species are Bearded Iris, Japanese Iris, Dwarf Iris.

Bearded Irises - They flower when most of the spring flowers have waned, flower colour is wide ranging.

Japanese Iris - Thrives in damp situations, and in summer bears immense flowers in colours ranging from white to lavender, blue, violrt and purple.

The soil should be well enriched with organic material, are ideal for edges of pools, you can leave them for two or three years before dividing and replanting in early spring.

Dwarf Iris - Bears flowers of yellow, plum and white, in early spring.

Snowdrops, Narcissus - daffodils

Galanthus nivalis snowdrop. Photo Credit -
Galanthus nivalis snowdrop. Photo Credit -

The first sign that spring is arriving is when you see the snowdrops.

Snowdrops are the earliest of all bulbs. They open their white, winged flowers before anyone dares whisper spring.

With the first hint of lengthening days, spring bulbs begin to make an appearance.

Galanthus Snowdrop is a small genus of about 20 species of bulbous herbaceous plants in the Amaryllis family.

Narcissus - The best known members of the large narcissus family are daffodils and the jonquil, but there are numerous other classes.

Hybridizing has resulted in thousands of varieties.

Daffodil is a common English name, sometimes used now for all varieties.

The range of forms in cultivation has been heavily modified and extended, with new variations available from specialists almost every year.

All narcissi need a similar growing medium, well drained, well dug light soil dressed with bone dust or basic slag.

The bulbs should be planted in autumn with planting depth equalling twice the bulb diameter.

Bulbs in borders often need to be lifted and separated every two or three years.

Tips for Planting Bulbs for Spring

Bulbs - Natures Beauty.

There's a art in planting and growing bulbs, actually if planted at the right time you can have bulbs flowering in the garden most months of the year, no only in the spring.

For instance Dahlia's are a great summer bulb that can still be flowering in the late autumn if you prune the dead flower off regularly.

Dahlia's are just one bulb, that you can have flowering all the year round.

There are many books about growing bulbs, a great way for someone to learn about them is try them out as some bulbs suit some areas and other won't tolerate the climate.

Once you have one bulb if they are lifted stored and replanted they are something that you only buy once, and you will always have that plant in fact you will be giving them away they multiply very fast.

Check them out and enjoy natures beauty!

Know your Bulbs

Narcissus Geranium. Photo Credit -
Narcissus Geranium. Photo Credit -

Gardeners when referring to bulbs, include not only true bulbs, but also plants that arise from corns, tubers and thickened rhizomes like the iris.

A true bulb, such as daffodil, is a short underground stem surrounded by fleshy leaves or scales.

A corm is a smaller underground portion of stem covered with one or more dead leaf bases.

Gladiolus is a well known example.

A tuber is a short underground stem which stores food.

Tubers are rounded, as in potatoes, flattened as in tuberous begonias, or irregular in the case of ranunculus.

Dahlias are an example of tuberous roots, the food being stored in the roots rather than in the tuber.

Spring maybe the main season for bulbs, but there are also many beautiful flowering bulbs for summer and autumn display.

Dahlias is one of them.


Tulip floriade. Photo Credit -
Tulip floriade. Photo Credit -

Tulips are spring-blooming perennials that grow from bulbs.

Depending on the species, tulip plants can grow as short as 4 inches (10 cm) or as high as 28 inches (71 cm).

With daffodils tulips must be ranked as the most striking spring flowering bulb.

There are many garden varieties and most can be grown quite easily in any free draining, well dug loam.

They should be planted between March and June (in New Zealand) September to December (in USA) and do especially well if well rotted manure is worked into the soil some weeks before planting.

Tulip bulbs should be planted 15 cms (6 ins) deep in light soil and 10 cm (4 ins) deep in heavy soil.

The somewhat tender bulbs fare best if protected by 2-3 cms (1 1/4 ins) of clean sand.

Treated this way, the tulip will come into bloom soon after the daffodils have finished blooming the following spring.

After the leaves have withered the bulbs should be lifted carefully and stored in trays in a dry shed.

A number of species and many hybrid cultivars are grown in gardens, as potted plants, or to display as fresh-cut flowers.

Most cultivars of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana.

How to plant spring bulbs anytime of year (forcing bulbs to bloom) Part 2

Trees and Shrubs - Rhododendrons

Rhododendron. Photo Credit - Elsie Hagley
Rhododendron. Photo Credit - Elsie Hagley

Careful thought must be given to achieving a balance garden with trees and shrubs, that associate well together and look attractive in all seasons.

Too many deciduous trees and shrubs will result in a bare winter garden, just as a concentration of spring flowering plants makes a dull garden at other times of the year.

Rhododendrons are beautiful while flowering in the spring, you cannot help but love them, but it is short term beauty.

One thing they are evergreen and are hardy to cold, and do not require shelter from the wind.

They must have a acid soil, preferably rich in humas.

Rhododendrons range in size from dwarf shrubs to small trees, their colour range from white to pink, red, yellow, orange and blue

Azelas - spring garden

Azelas spring garden. Photo Credit - Elsie Hagley
Azelas spring garden. Photo Credit - Elsie Hagley


There are two groups of Azelas, deciduous and evergreen.

They flower in late winter and spring, they include some of the showiest and most colourful of our hardy garden shrubs.

They grow in most areas provided they have a rich acid soil, year round moisture and shelter from wind.

The Mollis azaleas are outstanding among the deciduous group, they are large growing up to two meters in height and have large colourful flowers in shades of yellow, orange, red and pink.

The Ilam hybrids are also notable.

Among the evergreen azaleas, A. kurume and its many named cultivars are widly grown, hardier than the similar but larger flowered and more tender A.indica, they can be clipped as dwarf hedges or formal specimens.

Flowers are single or double and occur in a wide range of colours from purple, to pink, white and red.

They vary in height from dwarf shrubs to 2 metre high specimens.

Anemone ranunculoides

Anemone Ranunculoides. Photo Credit -
Anemone Ranunculoides. Photo Credit -

Anemone ranunculoides, the yellow anemone, yellow wood anemone or buttercup anemone, is a species of herbaceous perennial plant that grows in forests across most of Continental Europe, and less frequently in the Mediterranean region. It's occasionally found as a garden escape.

It flowers between March and May.

Growing to 5-15 cm tall, the plant is herbaceous, dying back down to its root-like rhizomes by mid summer.

The rhizomes spread just below the earth surface and multiply quickly, contributing to its rapid spread in woodland conditions.

The flower is about 1.5 cm diameter, with from five to eight petal-like segments (actually tepals) of rich yellow colouring.

The plant is widely grown as a garden plant, especially by rock garden and alpine garden enthusiasts.

Sparaxis tricolor

Sparaxis tricolor. Photo Credit -
Sparaxis tricolor. Photo Credit -

The best known is Sparaxis tricolor whose flowers are usually red or pink and white with a yellow throat.

This species has been crossed with sparaxis grandflora which is creamy white and purple.

Today these bulbs are therefore, a mixture of colours: white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, red and purple Sparaxis and blooming med spring.

Sparaxis tricolor, known by the common names Wandflower, Harlequin flower, and Sparaxis, is a bulb-forming perennial plant that grows in well-drained sunny soil.

It gained its name from its colorful flowers which are bi- or tri-coloured with a golden centre and a small ring of brown surrounded by another colour.

The plant is native to southern Africa, bearing brightly coloured spikes of flowers on slender stems.

They should be planted late summer about 5 cms (2ins) apart,lift every two to three years as they tend to become overcrowded.

What Kind of Bulbs do you grow in your garden for spring flowering

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    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @favored: Spring gardens are a joy to be seen, the sign of new life after a cold winter.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I plant many of the ones you mentioned here. Yesterday I went over a spring bulb article update myself when I saw this. Spring will be here before we know it, so this information is timely.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      nice as visit

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Like you, I love bulbs, and among my favourite flowers are daffodils, narcissi, and in fact all the Spring bulbs. You have some beautiful pictures here. Blessed.

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 4 years ago

      Beautiful plants and I really enjoyed your lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • JessicaBarst profile image

      Jessica Barst 4 years ago from Dallas, TX

      I love all these plants; I wish I could have room for all of them! My favorites are tulips in yellows or orange- such a bright happy flower perfect for spring!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: Hi Tipi.

      Thanks for the visit to my garden lens and yes we have a precious relationship through being lens master at Squidoo thousands of miles apart. I appreciate your thought's of me on this special day,"yes I will be thinking of you all day", because of this friendship comment and for many years to come, all the best for our future as friends.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Stopped by again for Friendship Day. This is such a beautiful lens. :)

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      You write such beautiful gardening lenses! I love your photos too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Another delightful and informative walk through your beautiful gardens and your pictures are breath taking....I had never seen the Sparaxis tricolor and was mesmerized by its beauty....wonderfully and delightfully refreshingly blessed!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

      This was a nice collection of bulbs for Spring. Almost made me a bit sad mine haven't bloomed yet, but then again Spring has just begun. My Iris's are blooming though, and a few cactus's are almost ready.

    • MermaidDoc profile image

      MermaidDoc 5 years ago

      Lovely lense:-) I grow daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses, they have begun to show their greenery and the flowers won't be far behind.

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      These are all so pretty, and I love them all! I can't wait to try some of these wonderful ideas in my personal garden this year. Thanks for sharing - Squid Angel Blessed :)

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      We dug most of our garden over and removed all the bulbs, so we need to begin again, but it's wonderful in Spring to see the Crocuses and Snowdrops, then the Daffodils and Tulips. Crosuses are in full flower right now, and the Daffodils are coming out too. In many parts of England these are planted along the roadside, so at this time of the year there is a lot of bright colour to be seen. Of course over the years the bulbs multiply and spread, so in some places there is a mass of colour, it's lovely. Excellent lens, blessed.

    • BuddyBink profile image

      BuddyBink 5 years ago

      I do not have a garden but, I do appreciate a beautiful flower and shrub garden. Thanks

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Beautiful spring bulbs and shrubs. I love the springtime and enjoy almost all of these in our yard.

    • profile image

      Helene-Malmsio 5 years ago

      My new front fence will have its fruit trees espaliered soon, and at the base the stacks of Iris's will look lovely, and I'm planning on dozens and dozens of different daffodils and Jonquils between them as well --- should look great!

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 5 years ago

      Spring bulbs are such a joyous thing! Love when my iris' are in bloom - they are deep purple. Nothing compare (in my book) to the smell of Hyacinth when they are in bloom. Lovely lens "blessings"

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I don't think it gets cold enough over the winter in Florida for most bulbs. At least I don't see any growing here. Too bad.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      I love spring! It's my favorite season. I love tulips in particular.

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