Autumn in the garden means bulb planting time!
Spring bulbs are available for sale at all Flower Power Garden Centres right now, so choose your bulbs early. While the huge array can seem daunting, don't despair. They are surprisingly easy to grow, and for a little bit of TLC they will reward you with a spectacular show of spring colour.
When choosing bulbs, have a spot to plant them in mind - beneath a deciduous tree is ideal for most varieties. They are equally happy in a pot, which will also allowing you to bring them indoors once in flower to fully enjoy the blooms.
Generally bulbs prefer full sun or part shade, but snowflakes will thrive in shady areas. Tulips, ranunculus, anemones, hyacinths and Dutch iris should be treated as annuals, and will need to be lifted and replanted next year. Daffodils, jonquils, freesias and Spanish bluebells will bloom for you year after year.
Be sure to choose healthy, firm bulbs - avoid any that are soft, squishy or showing signs of disease or mould.
Once you've chosen your bulbs, prepare the soil. Free-draining soil is a must, as soggy bulbs will rot. Stock up on a good quality bulb growing mix to use in pots or mix through your garden bed to improve the soil quality. Plant your bulbs twice as deep as the bulb is high, pointed end (growing tip) up. Ranunculus and anemones are exceptions and should be planted point down, as their point is actually the root. Water them in well, but resist the temptation to water deeply again until you see shoots - a moderate drink should do. A thick layer of organic mulch will help keep them cool if the weather turns warm.
In no time at all you'll be welcoming in spring with a riot of beautiful colour.
If you only have a small space, try planting hyacinths in a shallow bowl for a compact but glorious display.
Try putting tulip, hyacinth or daffodil bulbs in the crisper section of the fridge in a paper bag for 6 weeks. They think its chilly winter, and produce stronger stems and brighter flowers. Don't put them in the crisper with fruit though - the gases released by the fruit will ruin your bulbs. Just be sure no-one mistakes them for onions or your next batch of spaghetti bolognese could be lethal!