Those first optimistic green shoots peeking through are a sure sign that winter is on the wane: with a selection of spring bulbs from our garden centre in Oundle you can cheer yourself up from January to early summer.
Just after New Year the first snowdrops appear: tall 'Atkinsii', or 'John Gray' carrying large flowers on arching stems. Scatter other January jewels at their feet for contrast: bright yellow winter aconites, or pretty pink Cyclamen coum.
February is the time for crocuses – 'Snow Bunting' is pure white, while purple Crocus tommasinianus spreads happily through rough grass. Grow them with exquisite dwarf irises, just 10cm tall: 'Katharine Hodgkin' has curious greyish-purple petals, 'Harmony' is a slatey blue, while 'J.S. Dijt' is vibrant purple.
In March the show really gets going. Brilliant yellow daffodils, blue perfumed hyacinths, a sprinkling of bright pink Anemone coronaria and perhaps some white Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) make a riot of vibrant colour.
Plant spring bulbs in September or October in well-drained soil in sun or dappled shade, about three times as deep as the bulb itself. Adding a handful of grit helps drainage in heavy soil.
Please ask the staff in our Oundle garden centre for more information and advice about bulbs for a springtime display.