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Creating a Colourful Winter and Spring Palette with Bulbs and more

Creating a Colourful Winter and Spring Palette with Bulbs and more

If you’re planting bulbs out, this autumn, to get a glorious array of colour come spring, you may be wondering what you can plant to get some joy during the cold winter months. As the garden gnome would have it, there’s a range of fabulous plants, perennial and annual, that will do the trick while you wait for your bulbs to pop their heads out to embrace the warmth of spring.

Considerations before creating your colourful palette  

A dose of planning is all you need when it comes to mixing bulbs with other garden plants. 

  • Ascertain how much sun your beds receive in winter and spring. 
  • Check on the flowering height of your bulbs, especially if you’re planting on top of them. The trick is to make sure that the seedlings won’t swamp the bulbs, or get too tall in front of or around the bulbs.
  • Think about what effect you want to achieve. Do you want it to be loose and natural, or traditional and symmetrical? 
  • Choose a range of plants to give different shapes and textures, along with the colour palette you’d like to have bring you joy when winter is still holding onto its last goodbye.

The benefit of overplanting 

Overplanting has the added benefit of creating a living mulch, which will go a long way to helping to keep the bulbs cool, while conserving moisture in dry winter areas. Whether you are planting in pots or in the ground, you can over-sow with seed, or overplant with seedlings.

To get the best effect, try to plant out bulbs in large drifts or groups, then intersperse with small winter and spring flowering annuals such as Viola, pansies, Lobelia, Primula and Alyssum which will work well in providing continuous colour all the way through to spring, at which time a fabulous display of bulbs will come to fruition. However, make sure that you only plant your annuals once the tips of the green foliage from the bulb starts showing to ensure you don’t damage your bulbs. In containers, have a massed block of colour near your patio or outdoor living area, as massing them makes a big impact, rather than having a couple scattered here and there.

Colour combinations for your winter / spring palette  

There are plenty of combinations to try and some may appeal to you more than others. A monochrome palette is a suitable option for the minimalist gardener. A complimentary palette where you make use of two colours is another option. Perhaps you’re a maximalist and a sucker for colour and would prefer a tri-colour palette, blending three of your favourite shades. Another exciting combination is an ombre palette where you select one colour but plant different shades of it. Some other colour palette combinations to consider would be a pastel palette or a warm colour palette of orange and yellow shades. Whatever you fancy, there is a stunning combination to be made, let your imagination run wild. 

Melanie Walker shares some expert colour combinations to give you joy from winter right through until spring.  

Minimalistic palette

Simplicity is beautiful. Try planting tulips in the centre of a pot, surrounded by a frame of red pansies or Petunia, a couple of bright red poppies waving gracefully in the background and a touch of Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ spilling over the sides.

Complimentary palette

Create something cheerful and eye-catching. Plant yellow pansies and Lobelia in place when your daffodils and Muscari come through – a bright and cheerful combination of blues and yellows. Alternatively, if you like the English country feel, consider planting daffodils and hyacinths amongst beautiful white or pale purple Primula.

Tricolour palette 

For something a little more traditional, you can surround the bed with green Buxus balls, making your favourite tulips the focal point and intersperse with white Alyssum.

Ombré palette

The most interesting way to use one colour, is to use different shades of it and create a unique ombré palette. If having plenty of rich purple hues in the container does it for you, try this stunning combination: hyacinths and Muscari, dark purple tulips, along with Heuchera in shades of deep red and purple, Lunaria to cool things down a bit and some bronze coloured Carex thrown in to add contrast. 

For those whose garden looks pretty in pink, pale and hot pink tulips surrounded by pink Petunia, pink or rose Bellis perennis, surrounded by Hypoestes phyllostachya (polka dot plant) should do a stunning job of creating an exceptional display of colour.

Pastel palette

If you air on the softer side, try Paperwhite narcissus and white tulips, surrounded by soft, ferny foliage from poppies, pastel shades of Dianthus and Diascia, and masses of white sweet alyssum.

Warm palette 

Bring a ray of sunshine into the garden, by working with shades of yellow and orange. Plant out ranunculus in those colours, around a rich orange tulip or three, with some mondo grass interspersed among yellow and purple Viola or marigolds and the garden will give an unmissable glow.

Whatever you decide, have fun. Mix things up and create a display with bulbs and more that will bring you joy from winter right through to spring. 

Winter bulb preorder starts 23 February. Perennial and annual plants can be purchased from your local nursery or garden centre. 

Happy gardening! 

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