The tiny powerhouses that are spring bulbs...

Jennifer Wright , our 2nd year trainee, explains what’s going on beneath the soil right now at The Garden House.

With the recent beautiful weather, I think we can all be forgiven for thinking it is spring. I know I really want it to be spring. There is truly nothing better than the first leaves breaking from their buds and the arrival of Daffodils herald’s spring, right? On the other hand, I am not sure a week or two of uncharacteristically fabulous weather really qualifies as spring. Especially now the rain and wind are battering the last of our snowdrops. We have had a such a long display of snowdrops here at the Garden House. I am the first to admit, before I came here, I didn’t even know some snowdrops will flower in autumn. I am talking about spring right now but we will all blink, and it will be autumn again soon enough. I am not that old, early twenties, and even I think time is passing quicker with every year added to my life.

Now that the snowdrops are over, we have begun to lift them while they are still “in the green” and naturalise them in new areas. “In the green” is really just technical speak for when the flowers of a bulb have done their thing and gone over but while the leaves are still green. While we are on the subject of spring bulbs, when I was first starting out, I was often told about tying the leaves of bulbs after they have flowered or cutting them off to prevent them from becoming messy. I can honestly say that is some of the most infuriating advice I have ever been given. It is much better for the long-term health of your bulbs if their leaves are left to die down naturally after flowering. Similar to trees in the autumn, the bulbs photosynthesize the last of the sugars they need from their leaves before going dormant in the summer. They draw energy and nutrients back down into bulbs under the surface, eventually the leaves are discarded so they become brown and/or mushy. The bulb is a tiny powerhouse which stores sugars and nutrients in the ground.  When next spring comes, it gives the plant a colossal amount of energy to kickstart their growth before they can then photosynthesize again with new leaves.


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