Such a simple question when it comes to bulbs, is which way is up. Well, if you want ot take the guess work out of it, Unwins, the seed, bulb and plant suppliers, have developed what they call 'bulb pads' for the planting of autumn bulbs, which takes the guess work away.
You see, it's not that I wasn't flattered, of course I was. However, there have been plenty of companies that have been in contact with me and asking me to sample their goods and blog about them. Although mostly I decline, this time I thought I'd try them, particularly as I had had some nice success with their seeds earlier in the summer.
So, in due course a curious package arrived with my name on it. Contained within the package were some promotional material, a bonus packet of sweet pea seeds, and three round disks, each with a layer number on them, and the name of the bulbs. Layer one had Crocus, layer two had some Narcissus, and layer three had Tulips. There was also some writing stating which side was to be placed down. Now talk about taking the guess work out of which level to plant each layer, and the perennial question of which side is up. Of course the rest was simple. In mid November I set about the planting up task. I took an appropriate size pot with holes in it for drainage (one that could take the disks easily), some good compost with added grit and some crockery for drainage.
" it answers one of the most common questions I was asked in my garden centring days by people buying bulbs - 'which way is up' "
Firstly, I placed a layer of crockery or stones in the bottom of the pot, about one inch (2.5cm) in depth. Next, I placed in the compost, mine is 45% multi-purpose, 45% sieved topsoil and 10% coarse grit. On this, the first bulb pad was placed. Then another layer of compost, and layer two of the bulbs, finished off with another layer of compost and the final layer of bulbs. I topped this lot off with a crown of compost, and it was done.
The main benefit of this pack, from my point of view, is that it takes the guess work out of preparing a bulb container for spring. And, it answers one of the most common questions I was asked in my garden centring days by people buying bulbs - 'which way is up'. Although to the more experienced eye the answer is obvious, it can be quite intimidating to the adventurous novice when they first start out bulb planting.
So, like any bulb container, once it's planted up, all we have to do is wait. At this point, in early January, the tips of the Crocus are showing through, and I expect we'll see the first signs of colour in about a months time. Don't worry if it's any sooner, you'll be the first to know!
In the meantime, I'm going to continue to clear and tidy in the garden, and pour over the seed booklets, plotting and planning the colour ahead for 2016. At the beginning of next month, just as the Crocus will be shining brightly, it will be full steam ahead on the sowing of seed (the Unwin's sweet pea included).
Until then, happy gardening.