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The light bulb moment: complete this garden task within the next two weeks!

Don't let the light bulbs effect pass you by. Here's your Eureka moment to help stave off depression. 

Why is this particular week said to be one of the busiest of the gardening year? It's all about bulbs! Now that autumn has officially arrived, (it's the equinox on Friday 22 September) you can plant your little spheres of energy and be not only comforted, but positively enthused because you are planting the concept of JOY! This might not seem such a big deal but you will be amazed at the difference it makes to your inner soul, particularly if you suffer from depression. Which, incidentally, affects around one in six people at any given time.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is at its best right now. Are you feeling likewise?

Autumn joy?

It's well known that the autumn tends to have a rather negative effect on those who suffer from depression and other mental health problems.  For some, there's a definite feeling of melancholy or dejection that accompanies the season. It could be compared to a slowing of the spirit that gives way to a reflective period. There's an increasing amount of darker hours and this in itself can be an issue for those who feel they might suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Light is said to be a key component and rather like chickens who slow down their egg production at this time of year, people can feel it happening within their inner psyche.

Hey! Who's stolen the sunlight? It can be an involuntary response for some, but for others it's perhaps possible to prevent or reverse the psychological reaction. But it might take some mental energy, guidance, willpower and determination.

Keeping autumn depression at bay

This is where gardening comes into its own! Especially in autumn, which is the peak planting time for bulbs.  Get bulbs into the ground  (preferably within the next two weeks) and they'll be sending out shoots to ensure that you will receive the best possible display. In other words, they will immediately start preparing for spring. Which means that you can too. Over 250,000 people are predicted to buy bulbs this week alone and many garden centres expect to sell around 2000 packets of bulbs each hour during opening times in the next two weeks.

Buy your bulbs now and you will be filled with an optimism that makes spring feel closer.

Start right now!

What can you plant right now? Daffodils and Narcissi remain the most popular bulb purchases, particularly the miniature Narcissus 'Tete a Tete', followed by Alliums, Hyacinths and Crocuses. But there are plenty of more unusual bulbs too. Camassia, for example, make a great feature for the middle of a border with their erect stems of blue or white flowers. They are so easy to care for too, happy in partial shade and even in clay soils. They need no tidying save pulling out the dried foliage once it has dried.

Camassia are beautiful flowers that can be planted as bulbs now. There are 'snowflakes', otherwise known as Leucojum and often confused with giant snowdrops;

These 'giant snowflakes' look like large snowdrops. Leucojum bulbs can be planted now. many different types of autumn-planted lilies; exotic-looking Fritillaria with their snake-like bell flowers and the beautiful, star-shaped blue or pink Chionodoxa which are known as 'glory of the snow'. How can you possibly be sad when faced with the prospect of enjoying some glory of the snow?

Chionodoxa are also known as 'glory of the snow' and they are certainly a joyful sight.

What about tulips?

The advice for tulip lovers is to buy now but then WAIT to plant. There are reports that red, purple and pink tulip bulbs are 'on trend' so you can buy now so that you don't miss out on your favourites, but store them in a dry, cool place until the end of October.

Pink tulips are 'on trend' this year. You need to wait a little longer before planting your tulip bulbs. This is not only because tulips require less time to grow than most other bulbs, but also that they hate to sit in wet ground which can be a breeding ground for fungal diseases. It's important, therefore, to add stones or grit to heavy soils and to choose a sunny spot. Many people dig up their tulip bulbs once they have flowered and the foliage has died down. They can then be stored ready to use again.

Tulips can be purchased now but it's best to wait until next month before planting.

Short term fling or long term grin?

A further word of advice: some tulips are designed to give a carnival display the first spring but will be far less spectacular thereafter. These are perfect for cut flowers or for a vibrant show that will never be repeated.

Some tulip bulbs are designed to produce a carnival of large blooms which are more suitable for cutting than returning every year. Many bulbs used in municipal bedding schemes are thrown away after just one season.  Wasteful, and rather sad. Depressing, even. If you want your tulips to flower repeatedly, make sure you plant them deeply, in a well-drained site and in full sun. Choose older species varieties as these are the ones that will stand the best chance of coming back, year after year.

Avoid being shallow

This is not advice about your personality but more about caring deeply about the bulb planting process. Deep is best. Prepare your planting hole with care and love. Triple the size of the bulb is ideal, and at least a bulb's width away from each other. Make sure the soil is rich and loose, then plant bulbs en-masse for maximum impact. Think in terms of tens rather than singles.

Bulbs planted en-masse look far more impressive than singles, dotted about at random. Don't ignore the possibility that pots bring you bulbs in pots can be perfect. Plant several varieties to give you successional colour through late winter to late spring.

Plant up your spring pots now. Put later-flowering bulbs at the bottom and the earlier flowering varieties at the top.

By Perfect Plants


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