Awkward areas of bare ground beneath trees or shrubs are perfect for spring-flowering perennials and bulbs that bloom before the trees’ leaves are out and casting shade. Choose woodland dwellers, such as snowdrops and hellebores, for dense areas of shade, and sun-loving crocuses for the edge of the border.
When to plant: Spring for snowdrops, autumn for bulbs and plants.
At their best: Early spring.
Time to complete: 2 hours.
You will need: Slim trowel or bulb planter, spade, well-rotted leafmold.
Prepare the ground
Woodland bulbs enjoy a moist, open-textured soil, rich in organic matter, so add plenty of well-rotted leafmold.
Plant the bulbs
Most spring bulbs are planted in autumn, but snowdrops for example do best when transplanted “in the green”—after flowering but while their leaves are intact. For a natural effect, plant bulbs in drifts.
In rougher corners of the garden, dying bulb leaves can just be left, but if you feel the need to tidy, make sure the leaves have died down completely before you remove them. Give all plants an annual mulch of leafmold.