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Know your winter bulbs

When autumn leaves have fallen, elegant little floral petticoats burst from the soil in optimistic, spring-anticipating growth.

Words: Linda Ross


Hoop petticoat

Narcissus ‘Fyno’

These dainty ivory or golden flowers appear as early as late-May. They are happy in any spot that has winter sun, summer shade is not a problem. Perfect for gardens and pots, and just 15cm tall in flower.

Photo - Peter Turner Photography/




Narcissus ‘Early Sensation’

The earliest of the ‘trumpet’ daffs, starting in June, with flowers held on 20cm stems. The foliage is not well developed at flowering time making this a good choice for pots.Also look for ‘Golden Robin’, bred by renowned Australian rose breeder Alister Clark.

Photo - Khairil Azhar Junos/



Grape hyacinth


Plant these carefree bulbs by the thousands to create swaths beside ponds and beneath trees. Dig up overcrowded bulbs in late spring. Divide, leaving the foliage attached, replant immediately and water well.

Photo - Kollawat Somsri/




Galanthus nivalis

The true snowdrop is suited only to cool climates. They produce one flower per super-fine 10cm tall stem. The three large outer petals (tepals) open out like propellers, looking as if they’re doing all they can to catch the rays. They flower in both bull sun and moderate shade.

Photo - Don Pablo/





Snowflakes bloom in early June and love light shade and moist, well-drained soil. Like daffodils, they look best in a mass. Plant bulbs about 5cm deep in autumn and they will multiply freely. Divide clumps every 3-5 years.

Photo - Jonas St. Juste/





The easiest to grow of all the garden bulbs, perfumed jonquils pop up every August. They come in cream and bright yellow, though our favourite is ivory ‘Paperwhite’. Wait until foliage has died back before tidying up and feed with bulb food as they die down.



Dutch crocus

Crocus vernus

Easy to grow in cool to temperate climates, with a wide range of colours. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Protect from hot summer sun. They will develop generous clumps. Dig and divide every four or five years.

Photo - Pefkos/



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Author: Linda Ross