As the year wears on and cut flowers become expensive, bulbs which bloom during autumn are particularly useful around the house. There are several varieties of Lily and Crocus which flower in the autumn, as well as Hyacinths and Tulips. Some specially forced to bloom during the coldest weather give a wonderful glow of colour during the winter.

Autumn is also the time when Cyclamens come into their own, along with Colchicums (sometimes called Naked Boys because their crocus-like flowers first appear without any leaves), Liriopes (small spires of deep purple flowers followed by blue-black berries), little Sternbergias (golden star-like flowers that grow in groups), Zephryanthes candida (white and crocus-like) and the strange Sauromatum guttata (Monarch-of-the-East), which, without eithersoil or water, soon produces on a stem nearly 2 feet tall a green and purple-spotted leaf-like flower with a rather unpleasant smell.

Winter's most enchanting flower is perhaps the Galanthus (Snowdrop), its drooping white head delicately touched with green. There are doubles, giants and some with outward-curving petals. The Nerine, by contrast, is a brilliant and spectacular plant: on 18-inch stems large round heads of lily-like pink flowers, sometimes gold-flecked, appear.

In winter, slender multi-coloured Freesias give a touch of gaiety and Convallaria (Lilies-of-the-Valley) their sweet perfume. Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconites), similar to Buttercups, or Lachenalia (Cape Cowslips) can be planted in a clump to give a sunny splash of colour. There is a pendulous variety of the latter, (L. pendula), which would be ideal for a hanging basket. Its flowers are red, edged
with green and purple.

Bulbs, in short, can be found for any month of the year and for any purpose: to fill a large alcove with one tall and striking splash of colour, to hang gracefully from a basket or wall-container, or to decorate the corner of a desk with a cluster of miniature blooms near eye-level. Chain-stores offer a good choice of bulbs these days, and there are many specialists whose mail-order catalogues offer a feast of all that is best or rarest. Bulbs are, perhaps, the easiest kind of plant for the indoor gardener to obtain and to grow.
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