Posts Tagged ‘bulbs’

front garden tulips April 2015

It’s all looking a little funereal in the front garden. I was aiming for a bright and perky extravaganza that I’ve sometimes achieved in the past (just think Dorris Day singing ‘A Surrey with a fringe on top’).

Gloomy tulips 2

But my fave ‘Curly Sue’ (fringed) tulips seem a tad sombre without any enlivening partners to lift them and ‘Labrador’ (purple/red?) has only added to the gloomy look,

Tulipa Labrador

despite its extra frills (above). I also wonder if the bulb supplier may have sent me some ‘Huis Ten Bosch’ tulips which is a pink and cream combination instead of ‘Joint Division’, which leans more to orange and cream (with a fringe on top). Whichever of the two these are, they’ve also come up all stumpy (again!). Will I never learn! A dry spring and I wasn’t out there watering away! Strange that only some of the fringed varieties have come up stumpy though and on further chatting with friend Siew Lee, we reckon the more complex the flower is, the more stressed it is and more susceptible to difficult weather conditions etc. (By the way, there’s also the remains of some chicories in the mix and the odd sparky glimmer of a yellow and red ‘Helmar’ tulip from previous plantings.)

I recently recorded a podcast about tomatoes with Jane Perrone and Alys Fowler for the Guardian (a jolly good listen should you be interested in all things tomato by the way) and Jane admitted her disappointment when, on occasion, her home-grown tomatoes haven’t tasted that great at the end of summer, despite all her efforts. All that’s how I feel about my tulips. Hours of pouring over catalogues and planning the perfect display, planting the bulbs in autumn and the anticipation of seeing the fresh growth bursting through in early spring and the result is all rather drab!

Tulip joy at Helmi House

On a brighter note, tulips planted at a project I work on in S. London have been a joy! Here we have the gorgeously rich orange ‘Cairo’, the contained rapture of ‘Purple Flag’, the demure ‘Pink Twist’ and the odd dash of ‘Curly Sue’. A much happier combination I feel.

So it’s back to the drawing board for next year for my front garden. I have a friend living with me at the moment who’s an avid Arsenal fan, and she’s requested a red and white display for 2016. So come September, I’ll be plotting away again, and as Doris would say, ‘Que Sera Sera’. (And maybe, just maybe, Arsenal will win the league!)

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Ever since I wrote about year round scent a few weeks ago, I’ve had it in mind to look our for some Iris unguicularis at this week’s show. ‘Mary Barnard’ is a tallish variety, up to 12inches in height and spread, and comes with a gentle scent too. I’ve planted these at the bottom of a south-facing wall as they like sun and poor, well-drained soil, and right by the back door so as they clump up over the years, I’ll have this cheerful sight and delicate perfume at the beginning of each year.

I saw these Irises along with the sumptuous and uplifting display of  Snowdrops on the Avon bulbs stand.

Helpful as ever and always supplying quality bulbs which return year after year, I also caught sight of the exquisite Crocus tommasianus and have written a note to self to order these in the autumn for a lush pink carpet in our community front garden come next spring.

Ashwood Nurseries always delight and I particularly liked the gorgeous simplicity of this Hellebore ‘Anna’s Red’,

shown en masse on their stand this year. Hellebores, Crocus tommasianus and snowdrops are also great for pollinators who will be on the hunt for food early on in the year so doubly worth planting.

Further back in the hall was Sea Spring Seeds, supplying a tempting selection of veg seeds which have been put through their paces in their own market garden. I picked up some interesting Japanese leaves, such as Red Knight Mizuna, Golden Streak Mustard leaf and Tatsoi Yukina Savoy and also got chatting about their comprehensive selection of Chili seeds. Chili seeds can be sown indoors now and into March and grown on indoors in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill. I also wanted to know if Sea Spring seeds supplied any varieties that could be grown on outdoors. Joy Michaud recommended ‘Super Chile’ as it’s such a fast grower and hopefully it will ripen out-of-doors if given the sunniest of spots. Worth trying as part of our community veg growing project this year for some neighbours who like it hot.

Further travels around the show revealed the creative use of recycled objects and pots on the D’Arcy and Everest alpine stand,

and I did purchase a few Sempervivum to try out some recycling of domestic objects at home too.

And finally, couldn’t resist buying a Rubus lineatus on the Crug Farm Nursery stand for its crinkly yet soft palmate leaves. Rubus is such a great family of plants including the Japanese wineberry, Rubus phoenicolasius, Blackberries, Rubus fruticosus and I did spot a rather intriguing plant,

Rubus ulmifolius bellidiflorus, wild, but with amazing pink pompom flowers, at the Hampton Court Flower Show last summer. Can feel an obsession coming on.

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Now Daffodils are finishing flowering (some of mine have, while others are still going strong), it’s a good time replenish their food reserves so that they’ll repeat the show next year. Firstly, remove the dead heads (just the dead flowers-but leave the stems), so that they won’t use their strength to produce seeds, and then nourish them with tomato feed. This helps the bulbs build up energy so that they will flower again next year. Don’t cut back the leaves at all, as they are also working hard, by manically photosynthesizing, to feed the bulbs.

If you have Daffodils in a pot that didn’t flower this year and that have been in a pot for some time, feed them now and then re-pot them later in the year when the stems have died back or even in autumn when it’s daffodil planting time. When re-planting, use John Innes no.2 compost (a soil based compost that will retain water and nutrients far better than a peat-based multi-purpose compost). It’s a good idea to empty everything out of the pot so you can see what state the bulbs are in. If the bulbs have multiplied, divide these up by carefully pulling peeling off the smaller bulbs from the original bulb, and then re-plant the bulbs (to the same depth that they were planted before) in fresh John Innes no.2 compost. (Should be available at most good garden centres and some Homebases, B&Qs etc.)

And then next year your Daffodils should bring joy again come February/ March and April

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