• T.M. O’Shaughnessy

Spring forwardSpring forward


Now is the time to plant bulbs if you want a beautiful display in the spring.

Now that we’ve prepared our winter COVID gardens with chairs, fire pits and fairy lights, it’s time to take this optimism one step further and invest in next spring.

Perhaps it’s a tall order to ask for such a positive move when all seems negative as our world shuts down for the second wave. But the fact is, COVID-19 will start to come under control in 2021 and starting to act as if we believe in that is almost as important to survival as washing our hands, social distancing and wearing a mask.

For gardeners everywhere, it’s an easy choice.

Because right now, garden centres are full of gorgeous spring bulbs to buy, and who can say no to the masses of flowers of every description that will magically appear next spring when we all will have endured one of the hardest winters any of us could have expected. When this COVID winter comes to an end round about April 2021, how much better can it get than the moment be celebrated by an eruption of tulips in every colour, bright yellow daffodils, scented hyacinths in blues and pinks and all the other gorgeous flowers of spring. It will lift us up.

And now is the time to lay the groundwork. Plant some spring bulbs. Why not shop for them today?

Here are just a few of the endless choices waiting for you.

First of all, royal fans will be pleased by the traditional all-yellow daffodils called King Alfred—or perhaps you could shake it up with the white ones called Mount Hood, or any number of the beautifully hued apricot-and-white kind. The big bonus with daffodils, in addition to how early in spring they bloom, is the fact that squirrels worldwide despise them. A total plus.

Royal fans will be further pleased by all the emperor and empress tulips available for the spring garden: Red Emperor, White Emperor and Yellow Empress come to mind, not to mention the purple Candy Prince.

Of course, not far from the emperors are the boxes and boxes of Pink Mistresses which you could plant as near—or as far—from the emperor or empress as your story demands. And never forget the brilliant and beautiful Queen of the Night—a tulip in a kind of darkly aubergine colour that could simply be the epitome of elegance for your spring garden.

Then there are the parrot tulips—my personal favourites and a necessary part of any post-COVID resurrection for me. The operatic names say it all: there’s Libretto, or Rococo—or even Rasta, if you prefer. (If I were a tulip merchant in 17th century Amsterdam, these would be my currency of choice).

There are many other spring bulbs to choose from as well.

Colourful and headily-scented hyacinths are needed for any COVID recovery, not to mention the little grape hyacinths called muscari. River of Muscari is the wonderful name of one such grape hyacinth on sale now, and they come in economical bags of 100. (Sure, planting 100 bulbs will be bad for the knees, but it will be so good for the brain).

Scillas and snowdrops also await your post-COVID garden—not to mention fritillaria. Who could resist any one of these? After all, this is no time to be resisting anything of beauty, charm or confidence in the future.

And the moment to act is now.

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