A small area with lots of tiles and little sunlight: this is what owners of urban gardens are faced with. You might think that plants simply couldn’t survive here. But did you know that flower bulbs like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths will make beautiful displays, even in small gardens in the middle of the city? These spring-flowering bulbs don’t need much space, and there are also enough kinds that thrive in shade. From now on, early spring can mean delighting in a colourful statement made by your green oasis.
When border space is limited, clustering is the answer. With flower bulbs, you can do this with lasagne planting. This involves planting flower bulbs in layers, one over the next, just as you would make lasagne. In this way, the ones that flower early, like crocuses, will emerge first and be followed by varieties that will bloom later. This successive flowering means that you can enjoy the results for a long time: from January and sometimes into May.
If your urban garden lacks a border but has a patio, consider planting flower bulbs in pots. In this case, it’s important for the pots to be deep enough and have a hole in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out. And the pot should be at least three times the height of the flower bulb. For a colourful result, use more flower bulbs than you would in a border. They can be planted closer together in pots: no farther away from each other than the diameter of the bulbs.
In the summer, a shade garden receives less than three hours of full sun a day or filtered light for a longer time. These gardens are often undeservedly labelled as ‘difficult’. Yet there are enough flower bulbs to make even shady gardens colourful. Good examples are Grecian Windflower (Anemone nemorosa), Indian Hyacinth (Camassia), Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa) and Persian Lily (Fritillaria persica). Since their flowers are much more conspicuous than their leaves, they make excellent companions for foliage plants.