It's bulb time again; those things that look like onions (and not very appetising ones at that) which poke up like green swords and burst into life with a neon multicoloured explosion just when you are thoroughly tired of the grey winter garden.
It's time to plant, NOW! Don't delay.
Bulbs look best in clumps so grab bundles of them in your local garden centre. You don't need to look for anything 'hard', or complicated or exotic. Even the simple daffodil brings joy to the eyes under the weak winter sun. Bulbs are great value and you can even cut the flowers to display in the home. There are few guarantees in the gardening business, but with bulbs you simply plant at the right time, add soil and water and off you go! I hear of people planting bulbs upside down and still being successful!
Choose what you like best. You have plenty of choice in colour.
Creamy white or orange or neon yellow daffodils. Choose dwarf versions for windy terraces so they don't get blown over before they're even showing their flowers.
Hyacinths planted in a pot next to your door give off a delicious heady scent better than any perfume. And the colours are great too - purples, bright pink, elegant white.....
Dainty snowdrops can even poke out of the snow.
And later, tulips in an array of shapes, sizes and colours bring us through to March and April. Choose your palette and don't forget to plant in clumps for effect. I've never liked that 'one flower per foot' attitude to gardening. Tulip planting can wait until November but why wait? Again,choose dwarf varieties for windy spots. Tulips have a tendancy to droop all too easily.
Seek out a freely drained, relatively sunny position for best effect and a bulb likes to be buried no less than two times its own depth. Planting advice tells us to take out and store tulip bulbs over the summer but I leave mine in the ground and they have been reliably coming back to see us every year since. Bulb can also peep through other foilage like ivy in a windowbox or even on the lawn - again, plant in numbers and in clumps for best effect.
Some favourites:'February Silver', 'February Gold', 'Peeping Tom', 'Jack Snipe', narcissus 'Pipit' too, but don't get hung up on varieties; normally bulbs do what they say on the packet so choose colours that you like and off you go painting a wonderful winter picture.