Sunday, November 18, 2007

Buying bulbs

There are surprisingly few places to buy bulbs in central Italy: the vivaio only sells plants and there are not many garden centres. The local agricultural cooperative has a limited range and sometimes they turn out not to be what they are labelled - I once got a nice row of tall yellow iris instead of mixed dwarf iris. So it is worth keeping an eye open for out-of-the-ordinary bulbs. Even the Coop supermarket sometimes has the odd interesting species tulip. Of course we all smuggle bulbs from England in our luggage but otherwise mail order is the only answer. In Italy there is a branch of Bakker who have an interesting online catalogue with a fair but not exhaustive selection. Their orders arrive quickly by courier and in good condition. I was recommended to try Peter Nyssen in Manchester by a member of the Med Garden Society. They have a fantastic range of bulbs, some quite unusual and at very reasonable prices. They now have a website which is very informative and has good photos of the flowers (for Spring flowering bulbs look under 'Autumn Bulbs'). I ordered from them last year and the big problem was with the delivery service: the Italian couriers claimed not to know my address (absurd) and did not bother to phone me (lazy) so the poor bulbs went back and forth between England and Italy three times before I finally got hold of them.

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