Small blessings: Look out for the tiny buds of spring

Spring’s big-hitters are around the corner. For now, it’s the turn of the mini marvels

In just a week or two it will be the turn of the big daffs and tulips. But right now on centre stage, for a few days only, it's all about the tiny. The minuscule world of finger-high blooms with that air of having been shrunk by Japanese miniaturisation experts wearing white coats in million-dollar laboratories. Tiny narcissi, irises, muscari and tulips begin the flowering year, opening up with a concentrated blast of colour and offering cheerful respite to those glad to see the back of February.

In fact, due to 2012 weather conditions, all daffs with "February" in the title were roundly beaten this year into second place by "Tete-a-tete", the tiniest daff in my garden – tiny, but with a garden gnome-ish sense of solidity and not-budging-an-inch.

"Tete-a-tete" has been particularly great in the past few weeks, having been snowed on right in the middle of opening and surviving absolutely nonplussed. And it goes on flowering for a fortnight, minimum.

"Jack Snipe" will be next, in creamy white, and "Segovia" in April, white with a yellow centre. Both are really sweetly scented, so that on a still, sunny morning there will be perfume outside the door from a pot or two.

To grow them from bulbs, place an order in midsummer for autumn delivery and planting, so put a date in the diary now (Broadleigh Gardens has a really good choice at But if that seems way too long a wait, most garden centres will have narcissi for sale growing "in the green" at the moment, which makes them more expensive, but on the other hand, instantly enjoyable.

Elsewhere in Miniature World of Spring the little irises, the reticulata species, are a world away from the grand bearded varieties that flower in midsummer. At about seven centimetres tall, they look their best at eye level. The finest ones come in deep blues and purples, with amazing striped bee-landing strips up the centre of the petals. Unlike the tiny daffs, these irises look really good for only a few days, but they are so completely amazing when in bloom that it's worth buying three different kinds and putting in three different pots, so that you can bung the one to the front that's looking the best. "Harmony", "Gordon" and "Pauline" are all dark and lovely, and will be available after June from Avon Bulbs – and again, if you want them now, take a trip to the garden centre.

Finally, there are miniature tulips and hyacinths. Big garden tulips were bred from tiny wild species, and there is none more delightful than Tulipa sprengeri, the last wild tulip to flower, with a bright scarlet flower. Just 15cm tall, it nonetheless possesses proper poise and eye-catching colour. It can be hard to get hold of, though – much easier is a pretty pot wedged with muscari in white or deep blue, guaranteed to bring a smile. Plant thickly for best effect. And cram them in! These tinies actually seem to like it.

Top planting tips

Sweeten the pot

All tiny bulbs will do well planted in shallow pots – sometimes called "pans". A beautiful terracotta example will set you back £10 (plus postage) from

True grit

Tiny bulbs need really sharp drainage. Cover the hole in the bottom of the pot with broken pots so it can't get blocked, then add a 5cm layer of horticultural grit. £5.48 at B&Q,

For peat's sake

Now add your tiny plants or bulbs and surround them with compost. To smarten the look of your finished pot, add a final centimetre layer of gravel. £2.40 a bag at B&Q,

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions