“The area of a handsom Garden may take up thirty or forty Acres, not more.”
Philip Miller, The Gardener’s Dictionary (1724).
Breaking the rules on dividing bulbs
Traditional wisdom is that bulbs are divided when they are dormant. The problem is that when they are dormant, it is easy to forget where they are in the garden. Inspired by the fact that English gardening practice is to divide and replant snowdrops when they are in full growth (usually just after flowering), I have been breaking the rules about dividing other bulbs in recent years. Now when it comes to the likes of daffodils, lachenalias, crocus, nerines – in fact most bulbs – I split them up and replant at pretty much any time of the year. Gently does it, is the rule. You need to tease apart the clump of bulbs so that each one retains as many roots as possible. If they don’t tease apart, then replant them and do it when they are dormant and less vulnerable. It does not seem a good idea to replant any growing bulbs into heavily compacted ground so I dig over the ground well and add compost before gently spacing each growing bulb in place and covering with soil. Don’t let them dry out after replanting. That is it. Flowering is generally determined by the previous season, so dividing when in growth does not usually disrupt their display. If they are going to protest and sulk, it will be next year that they skip blooming.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.