It is now January and almost all plants in the garden are in there dormant period. There are still some Christmas roses, witch hazels, viburnums and perhaps an early blooming prunus, but that’s probably pretty much it. In the garden there is now not that much to do except maybe prune the odd frost-resistant shrub or tree.

 This means that now is a good time to make plans for your spring and summer garden. Were last year’s summer bulb combinations not as successful as you’d have hoped, did you miss colour in certain places, or were the colours just too 'flat' or monotonous in your border?  Now is the time to properly think about new colour- and planting schemes and change/adjust them, so that this summer your garden will look more beautiful than ever.

In my previous blog I wrote about the basics of combining colours, in this blog I want to talk a little about other things that are worth considering when designing and constructing a border.

Many borders start from the lawn or pavement and are slightly raised or sloped up to a wall, fence or other type of boundary.  It could however be much more exciting to also work with the varying heights and forms of the (bulbous) plants that are available.

If you have many plants or shrubs of the same height next to each other in the border, then it often looks very nice to have some groups of taller summer-flowering bulbs sticking out between those plants.  Summer bulbs or tubers particularly well suited for this purpose are lilies, dahlias and gladioli.

Summer bulbs and tubers can also be used to colour places in borders with spring flowering bulbs and plants. Bulbs and tubers that work well in this case are begonias, ranunculus, zantedeschias and crocosmias, or one of many other summer-flowering bulbs that are on offer in the Bulbs & beyond catalogue. These bulbs, corms and tubers often spread naturally and are therefore great to cover open spots.  An additional advantage of most summer bulbs is that they are also ideal as cut flowers, so you can even pick your own bouquet in the garden.

If you choose to work in your garden with summer bulbs and tubers, apart from the height, growth form and colour, it is also worth thinking about various combinations of (bulbous) plants with differing  flower shapes. Try combining plants or bulbs with raceme-like or hooded flowers with single-flowered bulbs and vice versa .

Have fun making exciting plans for your own garden!

If you would like more information on using summer bulbs when planning your summer garden, then please send us and email at or visit our website at

This is the second article of a monthly series written bij Cor-Niels van Duijn.  Cor-Niels has been a successful garden designer in Holland for over 15 years.