It is late November now and this week I have been out in the garden planting new tulip bulbs – I want to bolster the displays of some flower beds and just fancied a change of colour in others.
It is November and you are supposed to plant tulip bulbs out quite late in the year like this to prevent ‘tulip fire’ – a fungal disease that can spread in Autumn’s wet and warm soil. Mind you, you are also supposed to lift all bulbs six weeks after they’ve flowered and then store them in dark dry place every summer before replanting in late Autumn… but my back doesn’t have the stamina for all that, so unless I needed to dig a bed or container over, then our garden bulbs have just stayed in the ground.
I do wonder if sometimes garden care instructions can be overly cautious. Especially with bulbs. Last year for example, a leak in our shed roof caused my prize new Dutch bulbs, that were stored underneath the leak, to go quite mouldy. Gardening books would of had you throw the bulbs away, but I stripped back the paper on the affected bulbs, peeled or cut out any really badly affected areas and then washed them in a shallow sink of water mixed with a capful of bleach. Judge for yourself if the resulting display earlier this year was worth the effort!
Without mentioning names, *someone* did very well indeed with this year’s Christmas present: A workshop training day run by and taking place at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden in Wisley, Surrey (South UK). This place is beautiful and run by knowledgeable staff who are regularly brought in to provide expert advice in the UK’s gardening press and on TV.
The day was called ‘What now?’ and was designed to talk attendees through the different jobs to do in the garden during March/April in Spring. We also got a bit of a tour of the Wisley’s Spring gardens too, which were gorgeous and clearly attended to meticulously.
Below I’ve pasted jpgs of my notes from the day (prepare to get slightly nerdy about Ph levels and fertiliser) – and then the blog post is back on even ground with lots of pretty pictures 🙂
The season is definitely turning. I know because today was the first day that our cat Molly hung out with me in the garden, quite content quietly pattering around me, finding various good vantage points to observe from. The key word in there for anyone that’s not met our cat, is ‘quietly’. She’d let you know if she felt she should be getting more attention.
So I planted out some giant snowdrops, bought ‘in the green’. Apparently these have more of a success rate than just planting bulbs – although my bulbs of the common smaller snowdrops came out just fine. And that was after I left them out unplanted for a fortnight longer than you’re supposed to and they got a little mouldy so I had to rinse them in a *very* diluted lot of bleach and water. Anyway, hopefully these will settle in well. I’ve planted them in clumps this time in the largest flowerbed by the cabin (though I kept 5 or 6 back for the windowsill box) – so they should have a little more impact than the scattered effect the single drops have had, when even though I planted 100 they still appear quite sparse. Hopefully that’ll improve over the years as they multiply out.
What else? The first daffs in the garden have appeared in the window box. I planted some sporaxis bulbs in the raised bed (from the 99p shop!) to provide some height and colour before the crocosmia comes out in September. Gave the lawn it’s first cut, edge and scarify (scraping with a fine rake), got loads of dry/dead grass out. Hope that will help it to bounce back from the winter as it gets a bit of sun to the growing leaves, now the thatch is gone. That might not be enough for the back bit, which had suffered with some damp/water logging (possible drainage issues) and under the mulch which blew onto it. We have sporadically poked drainage holes in it through the winter… Guess we’ll see. If it doesn’t recover then we can consider taking more drastic measures if need be next year.
Now, in another sign of the times, I’m sitting with my feet up in the cabin – where it is warm and sunny enough to have both sets of doors propped open for the first time this year.
Enjoy the pics.
Technically, the cyclamen in our windowsill box are indoors cyclamen, however they are hardy to around -4°C and seem to have been relatively happy on the outdoor kitchen windowsill of our terraced (and therefore sheltered) side return. l covered them with a few plastic bags on the couple of occasions when the temperature really dropped and occasionally plucked off new bud stems that the frost got (you could tell because they simply never opened!) … and as you can see, they’ve pretty much come through unscathed; since the plants simply put their energy into creating new flower stems that had more luck weather-wise! I think they look quite pretty with the multicoloured heathers. These winters heathers were originally all pink as they were sprayed by the garden centre that colour, however new growth comes through in the plant’s natural white flower to pretty effect.
Clearly though, the most exciting aspect of the pots at the moment, is the promise of Spring! Lots of lovely things have started sprouting in the last 2-3 weeks. Daffodils, crocuses and even the odd tulip (not really due til May) are all there, poking through. The pansies are not quite in flower yet, which is a bit of a disappointment – but my fault really for planting them out so late that the autumn warmth had long left the ground. Hopefully they’ll fill out soon and start to bloom with their ‘cat’s whiskers’ faces in amber and gold. I will, of course, keep you updated!
Today I planted up a flower bed at the end garden just in front of the cabin. As you can see there quite a few bulbs to go in the ground, I’ve got something to pop up every month for about 5 months next year:
Snowdrops flowering from January to March.
Miniature narcissus flowering from March to April.
White and maroon fritillaria meleagris flowering from March to April.
White triumph tulips flowering in April or May.
White dicentra (bleeding heart) flowering from April til June.
A selection of white and purple alliums flowering in May or June.
And finally 3 beautiful calla aethiopica lilies flowering from May until October.
The snowdrops, daffodils and fritillaria should provide interest in the darkest months. The long fronds of white bleeding hearts from the dicentra will hopefully have beautiful impact in amongst a sea of white tulips. The calla lilies nestling under the fronds of the tall ostrich ferns will be quite striking if the tall, curling ferns get up to their full height this year. And who doesn’t like tall spikes of allium hovering above the mêlée and bobbing in the breeze?
Of course, the only thing is that it took sometime to plant! My back will be grateful for a spot of putting my feet up later this evening…
Today, in addition to a Dutch field’s worth of tulips, I also planted some of these at the tip of the ‘V’ shape plot where my Judas tree is. The ad is a bit contradictory on whether they’ll come up in late winter/early spring or Oct/nov, but whenever they do come up, I’m thinking they’ll look fab 🙂