Unusual late-blooming bulbs | James Wong

Quirky bulbs to give your garden a blast of late summer colour

March is here and the first signs of spring are suddenly starting to pop up everywhere. This is always my cue to begin planting bulbs whose exotic flowers and warm colours help extend the season of interest in your plot later into the year. Many blooms can last right up until the first frosts of autumn. While I do love the old faithful favourites of dahlia, gladioli and canna, there are loads of more weird and wonderful options that, to me at least, never quite get the limelight they deserve. If you are up for experimenting with wild-card options, here are three quirky summer bulbs for you to try, both indoors and out.

Between their impossibly exotic blooms and far-flung origins in the wilds of South Africa, you might imagine the pineapple lily (Eucomis sp) would be a difficult option on our chilly island chain. Yet these beauties come with a surprising built-in tolerance for the cold. After freezing winters that have laid waste normally reliable options, such as cordylines and phormiums, I have seen them spring up the next summer as if nothing had happened.


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