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Bringing the outdoors in: February bulbs

Jane Lindsey in her vintage greenhouse with pots of daffodils

The weather this week has been wild - just as more light appeared at either end of our days, the winds and rain took over and the garden is reduced to a sad, muddy, slippery space that doesn't exactly invite lingering and admiring the spring flowers.

I'm very glad that I remembered to plant small bulbs in pots back in November - pots that have been perched on the greenhouse staging over winter and which are now a mass of tiny iris and crocus.

Many years ago I saw a lawn spangled with crocus and iris - I think it was at Great Dixter. The crocus were open in the sunshine, flat and starry against the grass and I yearned to copy the effect.

I planted hundreds of crocus in similarly mixed shades under the damson trees. But every single year they look like blown in litter, their petals soggy and shredded by the gales. It wasn't the Dixter effect at all.

So, instead, I now copy Monty Don instead and plant them in shallow bowls - where they can be kept out of the punishing weather - a bright parade of clear bright colours.

pots of iris reticulata in a vintage greenhouse
They are up close so that I can see the detail, enclosed so that I can smell their sweet scent.

iris reticulata pixie

This is Iris reticulata Pixie

iris reticulata Alina

and Iris reticulata Alina

All of the pots have other types of bulbs planted under the iris that will bloom slightly later - some are late crocus and others small narcissi. The very fine slightly striped leaves of the iris add to the later bulbs, I just snap off the flower heads once they fade.

Once the whole pot has finished flowering in April, the bulbs are planted 'in the green' into the meadow.

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