The trend toward small-space living means a move toward bulb groupings and fewer gardens with sweeps of a single type of flower. Packs of mixed bulbs with specific colour combinations are hot for fall and make it easy to create stylish assortments. Each combo has a name: for example, Riverboat Cruise blend has contrasting white tulips (Tulipa ‘Calgary’) and dark-blue grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum). If you prefer analogous colours, the mix Sun Shower blends yellow Narcissus ‘Tahiti’ with ‘Orange Emperor’ tulips.
Small spaces also bring greater focus on each individual type of plant. My personal favourite bulb in 2013 is Tulipa ‘La Belle Epoque’, a showy spring bloomer in an unusual shade of coppery pink.
Meanwhile, lasagna-style planting, or layering multiple bulbs in a single container, remains popular. To get the look, place larger bulbs, like daffodils and hyacinths, deep in a pot and smaller bulbs, like crocus, near the surface.
The planters can then be filled with winter annuals, such as pansies or violas, so that you are not looking at a pot of soil through the winter months. The annuals also remind you to water if the pot is under the eaves – that way, the bulbs get enough water to establish a strong root system.
Peter Fitzmaurice is a bulb buyer with GardenWorks.