bulbs throughout the seasons


I am making up my first meadow using Cornfield Annual seeds, on a totally new oval bed surrounded by plum slate, in a small urban garden.

Since the annuals will be dying back around Autumn-ish, I'm guessing, I'd love to underplant the bed with bulbs that'll be coming up late Summer/Autumn. Can I plant these now, before I sow my meadow seed, or is it too early? Other than autumn flowering, self-naturaling cyclamens, I have no clue about other autumn flowering bulbs, so any input is very welcome!

The site is in full sun, by the way, and well-drained.

Many thanks image



  • oh, I forgot to mention that in the fututr, when I'm more organised (!) I will try to sow my annual meadow in Autumn rather than in Spring, so ideally I am looking for bulbs/corms that don't need lifting, dividing etc in early Spring, as this would disrupt my seeds.

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    You can plant them now if available but there are not that many to choose from-can only think of nerine and autumn crocus off the top of my head

  • Thanks Geoff. Won't they come up in Summer if I plant now though? 

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    No-it doesn't work like that-a lot of plants are triggered into growth by temperature, day length etc

    That is why daffs are up now -tis nature at workimage


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    Work out when you want to mow your meadow.  How is that going to work when the bulbs come up? If you do not let them die back naturally they will not last more than a few years.

    The correct time for mowing a wild plant meadow is some time after July, not Spring, when the flowers have mostly set seed.  You must then remove the cut grass to avoid fertilizing the meadow.

    Cyclamens will become over-whelmed by grass. And you will chop up the corms when you mow.  But they do fine under established trees where the grass is very sparse.

    Most bulbs will do well in a bed where you will not have to disturb them with cultivations like mowing.

  • True geoff image

    Thanks Welshonion, but my bed won't have any grass in it whatsoever as the seed mis I'm going to use is 100% cornfield flowers and they are also all annuals, no perennials, so no need to mow.

    Or do I need to mow annuals too?! If so, I stand corrected!


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    I think you'll find grass will come naturally, and other weeds.  You will need to remove the dead vegetation or the whole bed will become choked. 

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,230

    A cornfield meadow isn't the same as a hayfield meadow. It has annual flowers in cultivated soil rather than mostly perennials in grass.

  • Very true Nut - I didn't know the difference either until I got my seeds the other day - mine is only 100% cornfield annuals mix and no perennials. Apparently it'll do best on good soil too, rather than poor. 

    Thanks for the advice Welsh - so unless I need to mow (which hopefully I won't as there'll be little or no grass) then corms/bulbs are ok? Just wondering how long my annuals will last until I can remove them, to give space to the autumn bulbs...if it's late August/early Sept, could I also plant my cyclamen hederifolium and Sternbergis crocuses in early September straight after I remove the cornfield annuals, and still get a good display into autumn?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,230

    Hi Jess

    You'll need to cultivate the soil every year if you want to maintain this as an annual meadow. If you don't, grasses and perennial weeds will move in. It's like the old cornfields, cultivated in autumn or spring and the annuals grew with the crop. Then some idiot invented weed killers.

    Cyclamen won't cope with that and belong in deciduous shade anyway, have you got a tree they could go under?

    Sternbergias like to be baked in summer (or so I'm told, they rarely flower for me whatever I do) you could put some at the edge of the meadow on the sunny side.

    The draw back of both sternbergias and autumn crocuses is the great mound of leaves growing right now just when you want your annuals to be taking off.

    I think an annual meadow is lovely and doesn't need extras.

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