Spring is well and truly in the air. Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing and the sound of bird song can be heard near and far. This change of season means many of us will want to get out into nature and create a beautiful, eco-friendly garden.

We have previously explored tips on sustainable gardening products and landscaping, which explained the things to consider when creating your eco-friendly garden. This blog explores the different categories of flowers and some top tips to consider when planting your Bulbs, Plants & Flowers to create a garden that will not only support wildlife, but will look spectacular as well.

Perennial, Annual and Biennial

Lilly of the Valley for your sustainable garden

When you begin looking into the plants and flowers for your eco-friendly garden you’ll primarily come across three different types of flower; Annual, Perennial and Biennial. The difference between them comes down to their individual lifecycles.

  • Annual flowers germinate, bloom,seed and die all in a single year. If the seeds are collected or bed themselves in then a new plant can grow.  Annuals are often grown from seed to add colour in the summer months. For an eco-garden looking to be bee friendly the Blue Bedder is a perfect choice of annual flower. The common poppy is another great choice for those looking to create a bee friendly garden.
  • Biennial flowers have a two-year life cycle. During the first year, they grow only the roots, stems and leaves. In the second year they come into flower, produce seeds and die. By planting biennials one year after the other, you’ll have a beautiful display consecutively. Foxglove’s (Another super bee friendly flower) and Sweet William’s are popular examples.
  • Perennial flowers grow and flower for many years. The top, flowered portion will generally die back during the colder winter months, but the root survives which means the flower will grow again come spring. You can also buy evergreen perennials which will have flowers all year round. Lily of the valley and bleeding hearts are good examples of perennials. If you are looking to create a haven for insects such as butterflies or bees, Lavender is an excellent choice. Plant the lavender in a place with lots of sun and watch the wildlife flutter by.

It is important to look into the types of flowers you are buying for your garden so you can make informed choices and know what to expect when spending your money. A combination of all types will give your garden great variety. 

Tips for sowing bulbs

Tips When Sowing Bulbs

The journey to a beautiful sustainable garden begins with choosing the right bulbs. This goes beyond choosing the flowers you are looking for and involves careful planning and observation to give your flowers and plants the best possible opportunities to grow into something spectacular.

Choose quality bulbs

Before planting your bulbs you should examine them carefully. You should check each one for any signs of mould or general deterioration. Give the bulbs a gentle squeeze to see if they feel firm. If the bulb is squishy or releases moisture then it is best to discard it. You should also consider the size of the bulbs. In general the bigger they are, the more they’ll bloom compared to the same bulb in a smaller size.

Find the perfect spot

Every bulb has a different set of requirements and even the healthiest, largest bulbs will struggle if they are planted in the wrong place. Every bulb is different so it is important to research the requirements your bulbs need. In general, they should be in a fairly sunny area (up to 6 hours per day).

Depth and space

When planting your bulbs, a general rule of “green” thumb is to dig down 2 – 3 times the height of the bulb (The longest length) so if you have a bulb that is 2cm high, you should dig down 4-6cm. When placing your bulbs in the hole remember to plant them pointy side up.

As well as depth, bulbs also need space from each other. Keeping the bulbs somewhat “Socially distanced” gives them a chance to spread their roots without encroaching on their neighbours space. Different plants require different amounts of space so be sure to look online or on the packet for instructions.

For a uniformed display, dig a trough at the required depth. By digging one large hole you’ll be able to see where each bulb is and space accordingly. For a more natural look, use irregular spacing and placements.One in, be sure to give them some water, becoming beautiful is thirsty work!

Quality soil

Bulbs enjoy soil with adequate drainage. While they need water, too much can be detrimental to their growth. Sandy soils are perfect for this, but clay based soils not so much. If your soil is on the clay side, then adding some fine gravel or even cat litter into the planting holes can help with drainage. You should also add some compost into your bulb holes. This will also aid drainage and the organic matter will give your bulbs a boost. 

Timing Is Everything

Avoiding the frost

When sowing your bulbs in spring it is important to consider the schedule of the frosts. Frost continues through the winter and into early spring. New shoots caught in the frost can cause your beautiful flowers or vegetables to not grow and  flourish. So considering when the last frost date is likely to be is crucial to the success of your sustainable garden. This varies from place to place but for most of the UK May should be safe. 

To have a beautiful garden in Spring the process should begin in the late Summer, early Autumn. Spring-blooming bulbs, such as Tulips and Daffodils, should be planted in September or October when the soil temperatures have cooled, and it is early enough for the roots to have bedded in before the frosts of winter begin. If you want your garden to begin blooming in summer, then planting your bulbs or flowers in early spring is perfect as the ground will be warm enough to support their development. Dahlia and Gladiolus are beautiful summer flowers which are best planted in the spring for a beautiful summer display.

If you are planting your bulbs late but still want to ensure your garden is beautiful in spring you could consider to begin growing some of your plants indoors. If you have the space this can be in your own home or a greenhouse. Cultivating in this way will allow you to give flowers a chance to grow before being moved to your garden. Many perennial flowers can take between 8-12 weeks to grow so you should look to plant these around March.

Growing your vegetables in your sustainable garden

Growing Your Own Vegetables

Spring is the perfect time to begin growing your own vegetables. Not only can they add colour to your garden, but they are also a great step to making any garden eco-friendly. Some vegetables can be sown directly into the soil outside while others require a little TLC inside before being introduced into your garden. Be creative and upcycle some old wood into your very own vegetable patch! Some great starting points include.

  • Lettuce can be sown from March all the way to early August. Your first harvest will be around 4 months after your first seed is planted.
  • Potatoes can be sown from March. This can be done by allowing a potato you have to begin germinating inside. Then cut small pieces out that include at least 2 shoots. These can be harvested around 2-4 months later depending on the potato. 
  • Tomatoes should begin their journey inside in April. Give the seeds around 2 months to begin germination before moving them outside when conditions are more favourable. Once you have planted them in the great outdoors you’ll have fresh, juicy tomatoes around August.

You don’t have to plant your vegetables in spring. Carrots for example can be sown outside during the winter (February is best ) through to July to give you a harvest all year round. Different vegetables benefit from being sown during all different seasons. Research the best seasons for your vegetables and you’ll be sure to have a bountiful harvest.

Growing your own vegetables can be a tough process and it does require a little patience and work. But the reward of your own eco vegetables is well worth it.

Happy gardening.

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