What Shall We Do Now? 277
A garden that is planted only with bulbs, or with bulbs and a few ferns, can be kept beautiful all the year round. Many of our loveliest flowers come from bulbs, and they are easy to grow and interesting to watch from the moment that the first leaf-tips push through the earth until they die down. The position of all bulbs should be very carefully marked on the beds and in your garden-plan, so that you will not cut or injure them when digging your garden over.
The first bulb to come—through the snow sometimes—is the winter aconite, a bright yellow buttercup-like flower, surrounded by a ruff of green leaves. This little plant will grow anywhere : in the deepest shade and in poor soil. After it come the snowdrops, single and double, crocuses—yellow, purple, lilac, and striped —and then the tiny bright blue squills; and a little later the yellow daffodil and white narcissus, hyacinths, and tulips of every kind. Then white, red, and purple anemones, ranunculi, and wax-like Stars of Bethlehem. In June there are wonderful irises and tall spikes of summer-flowering gladiolus—red and white—and later still the tall garden lilies. There are many of these lilies, and all of them are exceedingly beautiful. Two kinds should be in all gardens—the white Madonna lily, and the orange tiger lily. All the bulbs that have been mentioned cost very little and can be grown very simply. And all bulbs that have been mentioned can remain untouched for many years unless they exhaust the soil around them (when, instead of increasing as they should each year, the plants become poorer and smaller).
Never move a bulb when it is in active growth : after the leaves have died down is the right time.
Leaf-mould mixed with your garden soil will help to give you fine flowers.
If the leaves of the bulbs are attacked by slugs, as they often are, sprinkle a little wood-ash all around them.