A trend in public spaces: flower bulb mixes
Plantings of flower bulbs used to be composed mainly of one kind of flower bulb; in recent years, however, the use of flower bulb mixes is becoming more popular. The variety of colours and shapes in these plantings is increasing the amenity value of public spaces in many towns and cities. And mixes that keep producing new flowers over time extend the flowering period throughout spring.
Months of flowering
Flower bulb mixes brighten up the streetscape and create various impressions ranging from the understated elegance of pastel colours to a lavish look provided by vivid contrasting colours. By choosing the right varieties, any location – verges, parks, roundabouts, plantings beneath shrubs and trees, or in planters of various sizes – is suitable. These mixes can be made up of just one kind of flower bulb such as tulips (Tulipa) or daffodils (Narcissus) or of several kinds. You can also choose between flower bulbs used as annuals or as perennials. Playing with various heights and colours can create a varied spring display. Mixes containing flower bulbs that bloom at different times will guarantee months of colour; passers-by and local residents will then enjoy a changing show. Flower bulbs such as crocuses (Crocus), squills (Scilla), glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) and daffodils (Narcissus) provide early flowering while ornamental onions (Allium) are often added to mixes to prolong the flowering period until sometime in July.
Many ready-made mixes have proven valuable for use in public spaces, but you could also compose your own. By carefully considering the varieties you choose, any withering foliage will be masked by the next kind to flower. Mixes containing flowers that produce lots of nectar for bees and butterflies such as crocuses, botanical tulips, grape hyacinths (Muscari), squills and anemones (Anemone) have become real favourites due to their contribution to biodiversity. Tall-flowering mixes are another option, an example being daffodils combined with tulips and crown imperials (Fritillaria imperialis). A low-growing mix could contain dwarf daffodils with botanical tulips, grape hyacinths and glory-of-the-snow. If you want a mixture of both tall and short flowers, you might want to go for a combination of crocuses with glory-of-the-snow, grape hyacinths, wood hyacinths (Hyacinthoides), Indian hyacinths (Camassia), tulips and daffodils. The possibilities are endless.
Enhancing the look of grass strips
Bulbs that naturalise (the kinds that emerge every year and increase in number) are perfect for enhancing the look of grass strips. There are even special bulb mixes for this very purpose. Planting in these areas can be done mechanically. What’s more, these are low-maintenance plantings: verges and lawns containing bulb mixtures need mowing only once or twice a year. This keeps maintenance costs down but the mowing schedule will have to accommodate the fact that the foliage of these bulbs has to completely wither before being cut. For early-flowering mixtures, mowing can be done earlier in the year so that the bulbs can store enough energy reserves for a good flowering display the following year.