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Between drought and squirrels, I thought I was going bonkers this summer. And now it's time to think about bulbs. Squirrels will be bringing in the whole family to snack if we're not careful. If we want bulbs, we have to be crafty – even craftier than these marauders. Forget getting masses of tulips. Instead, think about planting combinations of bulbs, some that squirrels like, some that are poisonous to them. And now shops carry really good groups of bulbs, which means you don't have to make hard decisions.

I was attracted to the All Set for Spring Collection in the Botanus catalogue, which includes 20 bulbs. There's a gorgeous Triumph tulip called 'Passionale' (magenta-purple), which takes full sun and blooms in mid spring (this varies of course). To counteract the squirrels snacking, it is accompanied by Narcissus 'Pacific Coast,' a sun/shade bulb (ecru), and Hyacinth 'Marie,' an early bulb (deep blue) with the most marvelous scent of the whole spring season. The best part: These bulbs will naturalize, and will come up from early to mid spring.

Plant them in layers, and you will be able to achieve two things: The deeper you plant, the longer it will take them to bloom; and the less likely the squirrels are going to munch away on them – they will only dig so deep before giving up.

In terms of getting a big display, 20 bulbs isn't very many, but it would work well in a raised bed, container or special small area you've prepared (you'll need a minimum of 60 cm by 60 cm). Make sure the soil drains nicely by pouring water over it and watch how quickly it disappears.

You don't have to add anything to the holes because bulbs are miracles of nutrition: They contain everything they need. But what does help is a light dressing on top with some compost. Gather up lots of leaves and make the space where you've planted them look undisturbed. If squirrels see anything like fresh excavation, those busy little pests will go on a frantic digging spree.

This summer's massive droughts have worked in the favour of bulbs. They really like to have dry summers when they are going through their dormancy, but they need lots and lots of water in the spring. The recommendation now is to plant at least 5 cm deeper than any recommended depth on the tags. The bulbs are protected against future droughts, and if you are living in a cold area without deep snow cover, depth will help protect bulbs as well.

Life without spring bulbs would be sad. They give us too much in value for colour and scent and we would miss them terribly. Plant a combination and get a head start on a colourful scent-filled season.

The Get a Start on Spring 20-bulb collection retails for $18.97 at For more plant information, go to