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Spring-flowering bulbs

 

Most flower bulbs, such as tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and crocuses, bloom in the spring. As winter ends, most of the plants in the garden still look pretty lifeless. They need time to start growing again.

 

Gradually, little green tips emerge here and there. Flower bulbs do things a lot differently; they start coming up a lot earlier. There’s something magical about them: you’ve just noticed them growing and before you know it, the garden is full of colour – a wonderful sight after those dreary winter days.

Now you know how they do it. After all, the nutrients they needed to grow were stored in their bulbs. What’s more, flower bulbs require very little sunshine. That’s why they have a big head start on the other plants in the garden.

Of all the flower bulbs, almost none originate from our country. So they’re not native (or ‘indigenous’) to the Netherlands. Originally, almost all of our flower bulbs came from regions around the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

The summers in those distant countries are long and hot, while winters are harsh. Many bulbs actually need these cold winter temperatures. In fact, the colder the winter, the faster the bulbs will produce flowers.

That’s why we plant them in the autumn. At that time, the soil isn’t too cold yet, so their roots can begin to grow. The flower bulbs gradually start to develop. Then winter arrives, and growth comes to a halt. The dormant period begins; the bulbs wait in the cold soil for warmer weather. As temperatures rise, there comes the day when the first green tips emerge above the soil. The stems, leaves and flowers grow quickly in the warm spring sunshine.