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Flower bulbs: the perfect complement to perennials in public green spaces

Optimise the use of public green spaces by combining flower bulbs and perennials. Together, they create a varied and colourful planting that provides beauty not only all season long but year after year. At the same time, they make a substantial contribution to biodiversity. Their management is also similar since both flower bulbs and perennials survive the winter underground.

Economically attractive

Planting flower bulbs among perennials results in a charming effect. But this combination planting is attractive not only because of its excellent long-lasting scenic beauty but also from an economic standpoint. New methods of management make combination plantings a low-maintenance option that reduces costs.

Perennials and flower bulbs can be planted just once and will emerge year after year. Perennials often produce abundant foliage that provides a planting bed with a dense groundcover in a single season; this goes a long way in discouraging weeds. Most municipalities in the Netherlands mow their borders in the spring (March/April) without raking up the clippings. This mulch layer suppresses weeds, reduces moisture loss and saves on weed control. After mowing, a slow-release fertiliser is applied to ensure the repetition of a beautiful plant display. An investment in this kind of planting is soon recovered.

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Great combinations

The best flower bulbs for a combination planting are the ones that naturalise. These are the varieties that re-emerge every year. A few examples of ones that combine effectively with perennials are Allium (ornamental onions), Camassia (Indian Camas), Narcissus (daffodils) and Scilla (Siberian Squill). Certain tulip varieties are also suitable for this purpose.

The combinations of flower bulbs and perennials are endless. Planting Narcissus (daffodils), Allium (ornamental onions) or Camassia (Indian Camas) with ornamental grasses creates absolutely wonderful combinations. Allium (ornamental onions) and Geranium (Cranesbill) make another fantastic duo. While in bloom, the nectar-rich flowers of ornamental onions are a magnet for insects; after flowering, Allium varieties retain their decorative value due to the round silhouettes of their seedheads. Meanwhile, the Geranium (Cranesbill) hides the yellowing foliage of the Allium (ornamental onions) produced earlier. The geraniums planted underneath then flower over a longer period and replace the ornamental onions as a source of nectar for insects.

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Advice

Successful plantings will require the right choice of plants and working methods. The choice of plants depends not only on how well a location satisfies the demands of the plants but also on the function the plants are to serve there: host plants for ecological linking zones, a profusion of colour for easily visible locations, or softer colours that will not distract road users. Professionals can provide advice about choosing varieties, preparing the soil, and planting and maintaining a location.

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