Archive for the ‘Tulips’ Category

Tuliopa Rai with Red Giant mustard leaf, orange Ballerina and red and Yellow Helmar Tulips

This year I planned to have a lovely contrast of pink and purple tulips in my front garden. Blousey pink Tulipa Rai proved to be a big success with clients, so it’s back again as the star of the show. I love it here alongside my Red Giant Mustard leaf. The purple tulips which I hoped would work well with the T.Rai look to be a week or so behind, but orange Ballerina is now returning for its third year since planting, and yellow and red Helmar has also popped up again in quite a number from last year’s planting.

Tuliopa Rai with Red Giant mustard leaf

I’ve always assumed that in my heavy clay soil that tulips will struggle to return, but these are raised beds that I’ve added plenty of compost to over the last few years, and some varieties are definitely more adept than others on making a comeback. As ever, my chosen combinations are not quite as planned (yet!), but looking forward to seeing how the bed progresses over the next week or so…


Here’s a Tulip update one week later

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Great Dixter long border in October

As well as starting to peruse catalogues and websites for next year’s seed order, I’m also starting to think about gardening courses that I’d like to attend. My choice of course is normally prompted by my lack of knowledge in a certain area or a horticultural idea/obsession that I want to explore further, and I always come away with gaps of ignorance filled and new ideas aplenty to put into practice.

Kemal Mehdi at Great Dixter

I’ve heard that Great Dixter (top pic) have a series of new monthly talks given by Kemal Mehdi (above), who has taught at Hadlow College for over 20 years. I’m thinking of the May course (at the end of April) as I’ve never seen Great Dixter during Tulip season and I’d love to see more plant combinations involving one of my favourite bulbs.

Head Gardener Fergus Garrett will also be leading study days throughout the year and there are propagation day courses and week-long practical symposium courses dotted throughout 2013. I’ve hugely enjoyed courses at Great Dixter before, always leaving with my head buzzing, full of wonderful new planting ideas, and am really looking forward to my next visit in April.

Chili pepper seedlings. Seeds bought from Sea Spring Seeds

Years ago, to increase my somewhat basic horticultural understanding, I signed up for the RHS level 1 at Regents Park and haven’t looked back since. It was an evening course, held over 18 months and I loved every minute. I see that Capel Manor have a one day a week (Tuesday) level 1 one course starting in January in Regents Park and finishing in July which includes some practical  hands-on learning. They also have Level 2 courses –starting in 2013 for both daytime and evening study and more courses in horticulture and garden design at all levels in other corners of London, including Enfield (their headquarters), Crystal Palace and Gunnersbury Park.

For those not in London, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offers level 1-3 courses throughout England and one-off shorter courses on specific horticultural areas such as pruning, planting for wildlife or propagation at Harlow Carr in Yorkshire,  Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in N. Devon and Wisely in Surrey. Spoilt for choice!

A Verrier fruit tree at West Dean, Feb 2012

Earlier this year, I enjoyed an amazing day out in West Dean College in Chichester, learning about training fruit trees, and their list of courses this year looks very tempting indeed. Many areas are covered, including ‘Planting in the shade garden’, a one day course for creating your own blog and ‘Successional planting in the vegetable garden’ with Charles Dowding. I’m looking at courses during summer, so that I also get to visit their much heralded walled kitchen garden at the same time.

Charles Dowding in Polytunnel

And Charles Dowding is offering ‘no dig’ courses from January at his new farm in Somerset. Really worth the trip as I discovered earlier this year.

Judith Hann amongst the Lovage 3

On a herby theme, Judith Hann is offering courses in May and June in Oxfordshire and Jekka’s Herb Farm will soon be posting dates for next year’s workshops in Alveston, near Bristol.

Dahlia Summer Night in the Exotic Garden at Great Dixter, August 2011

And Sarah Raven is offering both flower and veg growing courses in both her Perch Hill gardens in East Sussex and further afield.

Aya volunteering at 'Food from the sky'

Back in (North) London, and the wonderful ‘Food from the Sky’ (above Budgens supermarket in Crouch End) is starting its ‘seed2seed’ foundation in urban food growing in March and positively encourages volunteering on their roof top on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Miles Irving giving foraging talk

And over the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed some great urban foraging talks at the fantastic community garden in King Henry’s Walk and look forward to more in 2013.

As ever, I’m slightly ovderwhelmed by the amount of goodies on offer, but I know whatever course I attend, I’ll end up the richer for it. And if you know of other courses for 2013 in your area, do share a link in the comments below, wherever you are!

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Just got back from a holiday on the beautiful Isle of Mull (post to follow) to be greeted by a gorgeous heap of colour in the front garden. Finally, after many dry weeks, we’ve had some rain while we’ve been away and the Tulips have really started to perform.

I was hoping to get an overall orangey look, broken up by the purple of the Burgundy Tulip, but like all good experiments, it’s not quite come to fruition as I’d imagined!

The in-your-face red and yellow Helmars are a triumph. I love their rounded cup shape and their surreal colouring is truly spectacular.

However my much-lusted-after Irene Parrot Tulips are a real disappointment. Literally, they’ve come up short, prompting a friend to ask if I’d invested in some dwarf varieties this year! I’ve never grown Parrots before, and I’m wondering if the lack of rain has affected this variety more than the others in the bed.

Yes, they have all the crinkly gorgeousness that I’d dreamed off, but they’re now none too visible owing to their unforeseen lack of stature. At three times the price of many other Tulip bulbs, sadly, they’ll not be on my must-have list again next year.

Luckily, previously planted orange Ballerina tulips have returned in enough number to fill in for the Parrots, and this reliable Lily flowered Tulip will be a variety that I’ll be using again and again.

The hoped-for sobering force of the Burgundy Tulip hasn’t quite come off either, as these are a little behind the other buds in flowering, and dare I say, a little on the short side too. However, things may change in the next few days. Here’s hoping!

Further experimentation is ongoing too, around the corner, on a busy stretch of road. Our community project planted a few hundred bulbs in this overgrown front garden, hoping to inject some colour into this temptingly empty forgotten corner.

Only having the opportunity for a quick weed at the time of planting has allowed plenty of dandelions to return, but at the moment, these wildflowers look fantastic amongst the emerging orange Ballerina and deep pink Curly Sue Tulips. Looking forward to returning in a few days to see how this front garden progresses too.

26th April

12 days later, tons of rain and the odd bit of sun have really brought these Tulips on.

The resident loves his garden and hopefully the sumptuous colours will brighten the day for those who pass by on this busy main road.

p.s. All Tulip bulbs ordered from Peter Nyssen last October and planted in November.

Update on 19th April

OK, I know I said never again, but since a few days ago, I’ve caught up with a few more Tulips, and I may have changed my mind! I had to agree with a client that this Tulipa Rai is gorgeous and looks great as a cut flower too. I also read a very timely article by Jane Perrone in The Guardian today which confirmed that I am not alone in suffering from stumpy Tulips. Many others have been complaining of such a fate and this is due to lack of water during the dry spell we had about a month or so ago.

I also think my clients have been a litle more vigilant with watering than I have, and their blooms are subsequently a tad taller.

Along with the white Super Parrot, I think you’d agree that this Bastogne Parrot (above) is rather scrumptuous, dare I say, almost edible. And so now I’m asking myself, how could I not grow these chewy delights next year?

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