Potted hyacinths blooming brilliantBy Linda Fort
November 20, 2009
Whenever I buy bulbs for containers I always hope they will naturalise afterwards in the garden.
I tend to choose less gaudy and flamboyant forms with that in mind.
The two bulbs which have always naturalised in the garden better than any others are both hyacinths.
One is the regular fat Hyacinth orientalis which appears ready potted in the shops before Christmas on the verge of bursting into forced bloom.
These always seem to me to be a good buy. They tend to come in pots of three, are usually little more expensive than the cost of the unplanted bulbs to buy – and someone has done all the work.
Although I have read that forced bulbs will not do well afterwards, I have never found this to be the case with hyacinths. In fact, they always seem to do remarkably well when planted in the garden after flowering.
I prefer the blue ones and have clumps dotted all over the place. They need to be planted in threes at the very least to look sensible.
Their foliage remains reasonably attractive for a good while after flowering too which makes them more accommodating than daffodils or tulips.
The grape hyacinth or Muscari armeniacum is another good doer which transfers into the border obediently.
I have written before in this column about the disobliging habits of Iris reticulata. I love it dearly and plant it in containers regularly. I should by now have drifts of the things in my borders, but they never flower again for me.
How could any heart not warm to hyacinths which go on flowering so generously?
As well as blue hyacinths I have a clump of cream ones which have retained their flower size beautifully.
Over time the blue ones seem to shrink until they look like fat bluebells.
The miniature daffodil ‘Tête-à-tête’ naturalises well, coming back perennially and reliably.
Small species tulips do so too, but the taller varieties can be erratic.
However, when the stately elegant ones return the following year it is such an unexpected gift.
Nevetheless, I have never known them to return for more than two or three years.
I have a small clump of chinodoxas in pale Cambridge blue which I planted years ago in the driest, meanest, mangiest bit of the garden.
It is a spot regularly driven over by my eldest son who thinks gardening is a form of dementia.
Yet these little dainty blue flowers crack through the concrete ground every spring providing a delightfully delicate display – until, inevitably, they are run over again.