It’s bulb planting season, but with the rising popularity of naturalism, there’s an increasing movement towards planting bulbs not just in beds or in pots, but through lawns and meadows and carpeting the ground under shrubs and trees. With any luck and the right conditions, bulbs will self-seed and spread to create relaxed, naturalistic drifts.
In early spring, Anemone blanda, Crocus tommasinianus and Crocus sieberi are wonderful for naturalising in a lawn or under deciduous trees and shrubs, where they'll gradually form pretty colonies. For a sprinkling of bright blue, Scilla siberica will also spread beautifully over bare earth. Daffodil species like the wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus and N. poeticus are stunning in grass and under trees, while ‘N. ‘Thalia’ and N. ‘Actaea’ will keep the colour going longer. For areas of longer grass, camassias with starry flower spires look great in meadows and orchards where rough grass can hide the tatty leaves over summer. Leucojum is also beautiful naturalised in grass and under trees.
In moisture-retentive soil, snake’s head fritillary Fritillaria meleagris and the white-flowering variety, are a lovely choice. In drier areas of short grass species tulips such as the yellow-flowered Tulip sylvestris and red-orange Tulip x hageri 'Little Princess' naturalise well.
Now is an ideal time to plant your bulbs. To make them look natural, take a handful and cast them about, planting them exactly where they fall. Choose a mix of bulbs that flower at different times to guarantee blooms for much of the year.