Inspiration Page – AT23 Spring Summer Bulbs

favourite spring & summer flowering bulbs

Discover our essential bulbs for colour and interest from early spring through to the summer

Iris Reticulata Mix

Apart from tulips, (with which I obviously LOVE making collections!) I used to be a purist about mixing colours, preferring just one variety growing on its own, but I’ve changed! I love the mix of blues are purples that came up by accident in this pot of miniature iris we think muddled up by a squirrel. Forget-me-not seedlings planted here to come next

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Muscari Collection

I’ve loved grape hyacinths ever since I was a girl when we went looking for them in the Dolomites with my dad. And these are among the most special, brand new cultivars

Spring Shade Mix

Planted in a pot on our shady doorstep, and in dappled shady grass, we loved this pretty miniature bulb duo last spring. Totally perennial too, gradually naturalising into a Delft china carpet of spring flowers

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Windowsill Bulb Collection

Combined by Arthur Parkinson, I love these simple terracotta pots alternating between the Oxford and Cambridge-blue, Muscari latifolium and the azure-blue, ‘Valerie Finnes’ along his windowsill. These both bulk up readily and reliably. Transplant both to a border after flowering and they’ll give you pleasure for years. You can always lift and divide them to plant in pots again

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Crocus 'Orange Monarch'

A wonderful start to a bulb succession or lasagne, with a carpet of ‘Orange Monarch’ dazzling and cheery from early March. As the top layer, any later tulips or hyacinths can then push their way through

The Carien Crocus Collection

Named after my brilliant Dutch garden designer friend, Carien van Boxtel, this is a truly wonderful crocus collection which kicks off a succession of naturalised bulbs in her lawn in Zaltbommel, south of Amsterdam. All the crocus here have been thriving and spreading for years; they are the prettiest, most delicate looking forms

Crocus vernus 'Flower Record'

One of my favourite bulbs to plant as a top layer in a container (just below the surface) which flowers well before tulips to bring the cheer of spring a good 6 weeks early

Ice Blue Crocus Collection

This exclusive collection contains the most beautiful, pale, delicate crocuses in soft blues and creams.Delicate, yet easy to grow, lovely closed up as a goblet and even lovelier, fully starily open. They will cheer up your February and March garden, at a generally grey time of year

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Early Spring Jewels Collection

This mix of bulbs greets me from early March until the end of April on my way to let out the hens. Each of these bulbs were planted in different years and have merged gradually into the most cheerful early spring carpet. Each component is reliably perennial

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Jewel Anemone Collection

The florist, huge saucer flowered Anemone coronarias are something close to my heart. Having seen them carpeting olive groves in the winter 2018/2019 when we lived in Greece, they take me straight back there to glorious wildflower carpets as far as the eye can see. And, of course, they’re reliably early, here forced in our greenhouse to be brought outside to put on our doorstep to flower away from February to April or even May. If we keep picking, they keep flowering

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Fritillaria persica
'Green Dreams'

A pagoda fritillary from the dry country in the Middle East, I saw groves of something looking very like this in the grassy hills of northern Jordan in Spring 2019 and have been wanting to grow a persica-style fritillary as wonderful ever since. We’ve now trialled this for enough years to know it flowers reliably unlike many in the persica group

Fritillaria imperialis
'Early Sensation'

Can you imagine anything more glamorous to start off the spring than this very early-flowering frit with its chartreuse-green bells? This was my March number one in our first Corona lockdown. I visited this pot several times a day

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Fritillaria Collection

I’m crazy for these statuesque and glamorous Imperial fritillaries, which, in the case of these three come in a neat succession for a pot, border and vase. First to flower is the super-elegant, lime green ‘Early Sensation’ (in March), followed by ‘Orange Emperor’ and finally towards the end of April ‘Brahms’. These will continue to come up in your garden for a lifetime

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Fritillaria persica
'Purple Dynamite'

This is a romper when compared to the matt, silver-leaved species, Fritillaria persica which needs a good hot spring to flower well. We have found this new hybrid much more reliable, easy to grow and magnificent, with its shiny flowers and leaves. There were groves of this at the Keukenhof too last spring

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Everlasting Lilies Collection

It’s the silhouette and overall delicate elegance of both these lilies that I adore. Both have been coming up in the garden here now for well over a decade and we’ve had ‘Black Beauty’ in the same pot (with zero TLC against a north-facing wall) for a similar length of time. They just get on with it and reappear with grace every summer

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Majestic Lily Collection

Last summer we had a potted lily trial here, planted in willow baskets so they were light and easy to move around, and wonderfully scented. These three were particularly fabulous, flowering one after another, but overlapping enough for us to arrange this lily and honeysuckle bowl


more advice & inspiration

Sarah's favourite
summer-flowering bulbs

how to plant & grow fritillaries

Sarah's favourite muscari

how to plant & grow crocus