Early bulbs

Say ‘early bulbs’ and snowdrops come to mind. But there are others that flower in January to bring flashes of colour to the garden in January. Last year I saw a very effective mix at Oxford Botanic Garden of snowdrops with winter aconites, eranthis hyemalis. And like snowdrops, these like a shady position in moist soil. But I have found them fairly adaptable, growing them in a clay soil improved with grit in a sunny border where perennials shade them from the hottest sun.

Eranthis hyemalis - 2014

There is also a paler variety named ‘Schwefelganz.’ I planted this with the normal yellow ones but was disappointed with the result as the pure yellow ones made this one look muddy.

Eranthis 'Schwefelganz' - 2013

The easiest spring-flowering cyclamen is C. coum, with flowers in various shades of pink, or white. There are also forms with variously grey or grey-green foliage. Again, they all like a little shade although they can put up with quite a dry spot. They will also self-sow into a sunnier position than you might have imagined they could cope with.

Cyclamen coum - 2014

Often, it’s not a snowdrop that’s first into flower for me but narcissus ‘Cedric Morris.’ Cedric is about 25cms (10 inches) tall, and is so keen to bloom, I have even had him flowering in the second week of December if the weather suits him.

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But of course, we can’t ignore the common snowdrop, galanthus nivalis, which quickly clumps up to make good stands from a few bulbs, especially if you have a helper!

Bruno with galanthus nivalis - 2014

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