Posts Tagged ‘Bulbs’
Posted by editor on Sunday, 13 October 2013
Many of you may know that The Garden House was previously a market garden, and that when Bridgette and partner Graham bought it 12+ years ago it was completely overgrown and full of junk. Since then it’s restoration into a working and inspirational garden has been a labour of love – by Bridgette and Graham, and also over the past five or six years by the Friday Gardening Group.
By gathering a regular group of friends, students (Bridgette teaches horticulture at Stanmer College) and gardening beginners to help her maintain and develop this very large urban garden, Bridge has also created a nurturing, gardening, learning space.
Mosaic paving underway
The group continues to meet once a week in term time, gardening and learning with the seasons – and almost as important, chatting and catching up over a Friday morning coffee!
One of the group Sharon Donnelly, has started a brilliant new blog tracking the weekly activities http://fridaygardeninggroup.blogspot.co.uk , and on the website we’re going to bring you the monthly highlights.
Cementing in new posts for the raspberries; digging the new spring border
Looking good this month:
- Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ ( Smoke bush)- a bushy deciduous shrub which grows to 5m – it has deep purple leaves that become redder in autumn and large feathery pink inflorescences in summer. Grow in well drained soil in sun or partial shade
- Kniphofia ‘Bees Lemon’ – a frost hardy red hot poker that is not so dominated by leaves as other pokers. It has deep green grass type leaves and prefers moist but well drained soil in sun or part shade. It flowers in late summer and early autumn. Kniphofias are native to Africa.
Bulbs: Tulips don’t need to be planted until late October or November. The colder temperatures help to wipe out viral and fungal diseases that may infect the bulbs.
Activities in Bridge’s garden this month:
- Put in posts to support the raspberry canes
- Lawn care
- Take cuttings of tender perennials
- Prick out wallflowers
- Cut back Lychnis and Onopordum, pull up Honesty plants keeping the papery heads and collecting seeds
- Sow more hardy annual seeds and pricking out and potting on ones that have been sown earlier – they need a set of true leaves before they are ready for pricking out
- Sow more hardy annual seeds – including Cerinthe and Dill
- Sow winter salad seeds – in the greenhouse in gutters and outside under cloches
- Sort out plants in the cold frame
- Pot up sempervivums
- Work on the two big borders on either side of the hawthorn hedge – one border will be a spring border and the other for later flowering plants. We took out most of the plants to clear the beds and divide up some plants that will go back or be moved elsewhere.
- Continue work on mosaic step by the greenhouse
- Dig up onions and earth up leeks to keep them white
- Cut back box hedge on herb bed and tidy the rosemary
Mel’s method for drying seeds at home; pricking out seedlings
Posted by editor on Sunday, 9 June 2013
What a delightful surprise to see swathes of alliums in Hove Park this month. Earlier fields of snowdrops and rivers of golden daffodils have been followed by hundreds of alliums standing above meadow-like grass and feathery cow parsley in a beautifully naturalistic planting. Well done to Brighton & Hove City Parks Department.
In B&H we have six Green Flag Award winning parks – criteria being: a welcoming place; healthy, safe and secure; clean and well maintained; sustainability; conservation and heritage; community involvement; marketing; and management. The parks are Easthill Park, Hove Park, Preston Park, Kipling gardens, Stoneham Park, and St Anne’s Well Gardens.
Of course we’re huge fans of alliums at The Garden House – they are so easy, and keep coming back year after year with little or no trouble once planted. Back in May 2011 we feature Allium cristophii as our Plant of the Month – it’s definitely one of our favourite perennial ornamental onions!
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Our lead picture was taken today but this lovely miniature iris has been in flower for about a month now.
There are many types of Iris, rhizomatous or bulbous perennials, all with narrow leaves and erect stems bearing flowers – and wonderfully, you can have an iris in flower in late winter, spring or early summer.
Iris unguicularis, often called the Algerian winter iris, flowers in late winter. It is a vigorous evergreen rhizomatous perennial to 30cm in height, with copious dark green leaves and very fragrant, deep violet flowers 5-8cm in width, the falls marked with white and deep yellow at the base.
It has been given the Award of Garden Merit by the RHS, meaning it has done consistently well in growing trials – and is a real beauty to find flowering in these recent very cold days.
- Requires full sun and can cope with a south-facing, east-facing or west-facing situation but likes the shelter of a sunny wall
- Suggested planting locations include banks and slopes, city or courtyard gardens, coastal, cottage or informal gardens. It also grows well in flower borders and beds, making a delightful cut flower. Patio and container plants or wall-side borders
- Grow in well-drained or sharply drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil
- Propagate by division from midsummer to early autumn, plant immediately in flowering positions
- Comb out the old leaves with a hand fork to expose the flowers
- Cut back after flowering
Posted by editor on Saturday, 16 February 2013
Even in mid-February is not too late to enjoy the gorgeous, elegant, large flowered Hippeastrum (Amaryllis), it is possible to find a great range, both in shape of flower and colour from white, pale pink to deep purple-reds, and oranges.
- Planting Period: October until the end of April.
- Flowering Period: Late December until the end of June.
- Flowering time is 6 -10 weeks.
- Larger bulbs produce more flowers.
- Always store un-planted bulbs in a cool place
- Submerge roots and the base of the bulb in tepid water for several hours prior to planting
Amaryllis bulbs are huge, some up to 12 cm across, and they like a tight fit in their pot, soleave only about 2.5 cm between the bulb and the side, if planting only one. They thrive on being crowded. The pot should be twice the depth of the size of bulb. I plant 3 or 5 (depending on size of bulb) in a Victorian wash bowl for maximum impact!
Amaryllis bulbs have a tendency to rot and drainage is vital so put a handful of crocks in the bottom of the pot. Using a mix of multi-purpose compost and horticultural grit or perlite, plant the bulbs so that one-third of the bulb remains above the surface. Taking care not to damage the roots, press the soil down firmly to set the bulb securely in place. Water in well, although avoid watering the bulb itself as it is vulnerable. Use tepid tap water. If like me you are using a bowl without holes in the bottom of it, you must water with great care so as to avoid water logging.
Regular checks need to be made on the moistness of the compost so it doesn’t dry out. Once leaves start to appear you know that root activity has begun and the plants need regular watering. You can also give a weak liquid feed every month to build up the bulb so you can enjoy its beauty next year.
As Amaryllis originate from South Africa a warm and sunny position, free from draughts, with a temperature of 15-20c, is ideal for good growth. The plant should flower within six to eight weeks. As soon as the flowers start to open, move the plant to a cooler place, 10-15c, to prolong their life. Supporting the developing plants with a ring of twigs (birch or hazel) will both look beautiful, and prevent the tall stems from flopping. With the largest of the bulbs you should enjoy at least 3 consecutive flower stems.
When they are finished cut the old flower stems down to the base, leaving the foliage to continue photosynthesising in a warm and light situation. Continue watering and feeding until the leaves start to shrivel. Stop watering and keep the bulb somewhere dry, cool and dark until the late autumn.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 10 February 2013
A visit to Marchants Hardy Plants nursery for their ‘snowdrops weekend’ was a wonderful way to kick-start our spring garden visits (though relentless rain on Sunday proved a bit of a dampener to our enthusiasm for the new season!).
The Marchants garden itself was awash with delicate swathes of snowdrops peeking up over the mulch and lighting up the beds and bare hedgerows; and in the ‘potting palace’, an exquisite display of special varieties set in moss, with nearly 40 varieties available for sale.
Galanthus are more commonly known as snowdrops. They are perennial, herbaceous plants which grow from bulbs and are found growing wild from Italy to Turkey, mostly flowering in the depths of winter. They are very hardy. The common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, is in fact not native to UK. It arrived during the 17thC and has made itself at home here, often spreading to form huge colonies.
True collectors, Galanthophiles, relish the subtle and not-so-subtle differences of the many single and double forms – the plant and leaf form, the central green markings, the way in which the bloom hangs from the thread-like pedicel, the shape of the six tepals (three outer, three inner tepals – it has no petals).
If you would like to receive the Marchants snowdrop list by email, please CLICK HERE for their contact & catalogue request page making sure you tick the ‘Snowdrop availability’ box. For more information on this wonderful nursery visit www.marchantshardyplants.co.uk
Here at the Garden House we’re also enjoying the quietly emerging early spring buds and flowers. At this time of year, it’s like a game of hide-and-seek as you have to move leaves and trim away spent grasses to reveal, not just snowdrops, but early crocus, anemone, narcissi – and just starting to push up are the leaves of miniature Iris reticulata and of Iris “Katharine Hodgkin’ (one of our favourites). Our many varieties of beautifully subtle hellebores are in flower now too.
Planting & growing snowdrops:
- Snowdrops are best bought and planted while actively growing – growers call this planting ‘in the green’ – ensure they are planted at the same depth as they were growing before they were lifted from the ground – the point where the green leaves start to turn yellow should be level with the soil surface
- With pot-grown plants, the surface of the compost should be level with the soil
- They do not like hot, dry positions preferring part shade
- Snowdrops can be naturalised in grass under trees where they look spectacular alone, or mixed with crocus. They will make handsome clumps in a shady border or under a hedge or among shrubs
- Plant in well-drained, moisture-retentive soil with plenty of humus
- Where bulbs are planted in grass do not cut the grass until after the leaves have died back. Divide large colonies immediately after flowering while the leaves are still green
- Flowering period: January and February
- Hardiness: fully hardy
Join The Garden House special visit to the Winter Garden at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden: Friday 22 February. This is a daytime coach trip, for more info CLICK HERE
Snowdrop Days at Pembury House: NGS Open Garden – Pembury House, Ditchling Road (New Road), Clayton, nr Hassocks, Sussex, BN6 9PH: See the snowdrop displays on 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 February. Special Hellebore Day, Friday 8 March (all dates 11am-4pm). CLICK HERE for more info on Pembury House
Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages Mill Ln, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ Tel: 01323 811737 / web: www.marchantshardyplants.co.uk
Posted by editor on Sunday, 24 June 2012
When heading out into the garden isn’t the best option (will this wind and rain ever stop?), or when I get those 3am awakenings when the mind just won’t still itself, I’ll often reach for one of my many gardening books.
Most are modern books, recently written and covering the endlessly diverse subjects of design, planting and what do when – New Gardening by Mathew Wilson, Dan Pearson’s Spirit, Garden Design Details by Arne Maynard, and anything by John Brookes and Noel Kingsbury spring to mind, though there are so many more. The musings of the incredible Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto inspire, amuse and inform quite uniquely no matter how many times I read them (Christopher Lloyd’s Cuttings is a particular favourite).
Recently though, I have been reading a few second-hand gardening books. I thought I’d tell you about three of them. Two were gifts and one I picked up second hand from Much Ado Books in Alfriston, but treasures can also be found when scouting around boot sales and charity shops.
One Lousy Free Packet of Seed by Lynne Truss (she of Eats Shoots and Leaves fame!), her debut novel published 1994. A tale of absurdity, farce and a particular Britishness. From the inside fly leaf: “Osborne Lonsdale, forty-eight, writes for Come Into the Garden. He contributes a weekly celebrity interview column called ‘Me and My Shed’. His small, intense friend Makepeace is a professional book reviewer and part-time pathological liar. Together they travel to Honiton, by the A303, in a Fiesta van, in bleak November. Osborne is unwittingly adored by Michelle, the frustrated chief sub-editor, who writes him kinky ‘readers’ letters’ after work for her own amusement. Lillian, the editor’s lazy secretary, who hates Michelle, mischievously sends them on. Tim, the deputy editor, knows nothing about anything, but worries anyway”…and so it goes on.
Better Gardening by Robin Lane Fox, published 1986, was a gift from a friend to whom I had to confess that I had never heard of him. Wikipedia notes that he is “an expert gardener, he is the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times and a noted opponent of garden gnomes” – so really I should have!
From the inside fly leaf – “In this memorable book, Robin Lane Fox draws on his wide experience to pick and discuss better plants, bulbs, trees and shrubs for beginners and experts alike. Wherever possible, their sources and cheap means of increase are listed. The result is not only an encouragement to try new plants or begin a garden-plan with confidence. It is filled with advice from an observant eye and is written with a style, humour, and sense of romance which have long delighted his weekly readers and place this book beside the best of English garden literature.”
A Little History of British Gardening by Jenny Uglow, published 2004, is an excellent read, rich with historical facts yet humble and humorous detail too: “Did the Romans have rakes? Did the monks get muddy? Did the potato seem really, really weird when it arrived on our shores?”
From the inside fly leaf – “This lively ‘potted’ history of gardening in Britain takes us on a garden tour from the thorn hedges around prehistoric settlements to the rage for decking and ornamental grasses today. It tracks down the ordinary folk who worked the earth – the apprentice boys and weeding women, the florists and nursery gardeners – as well as aristocrats and grand designers and famous plant-hunters. Coloured by Jenny Uglow’s own love for plants, and brought to life in the many vivid illustrations, it deals not only with flowery meads, grottoes and vistas, landscapes and ha-has, parks and allotments, but tells you, for example, how the Tudors made their curious knots; how housewives used herbs to stop freckles; how the suburbs dug for victory in World war II.”
So if the great outdoors doesn’t offer warm distraction, maybe turn up the heating and curl up with a good second-hand book as though it were December rather than June!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 18 February 2012
Horticulture-speak can be a bit mystifying if you’re new to gardening and vegetable growing, so we thought we’d explain a few of the terms you’re most likely to come across:
Intercropping - This growing method is where quick maturing plants are grown in between long-term crops – for example sow a row of radishes next to your parsnips, lettuces or spring onions in between rows of brassicas.
Catch cropping - This is when a quickly maturing crop is grown in the interval between harvesting one main crop and sowing or planting another. Suitable plants for this would be spring onions, radishes and lettuces.
Cut and come again - A range of leafy vegetables can be grown as ‘cut and come again’. This term describes a method of harvesting the young leaves as-and-when when you need them. Harvesting little and often prevents plants from maturing and ensures several harvests of small, tender, mild-flavoured leaves over a long period of time. You can grow many of these all year round, although you may require a heated propagator, windowsill, greenhouse or polytunnel. I like to grow ‘cut and come again’ leaves in the greenhouse in the winter so that they are available if you want a quick bowl of salad.
Amaranth, basil, beetroot, chicory, coriander, chard, corn salad, dandelion, endive, komatsuma, land cress, leaf celery, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, pak choi, parsley, purslane, radicchio, red kale, rocket, sorrel and spinach are all suitable and you can mix these together and grow them in polystyrene boxes if you have seed left over from the summer.
Vegetables usually grown for their roots such as beetroot, radish and turnip also have leaves that are tasty when harvested young.
Cropping squares - This is a method used to grow sweet corn. As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks rather than rows, 45cm (18in) apart each way.
Successional sowing - This is a way of avoiding gluts and shortages of produce. By planning and sowing seed little and often in batches, it is possible to ensure plants are ready to harvest in succession throughout the growing period. Quick-maturing vegetables, including carrots, French beans, peas, salads and spinach, are best sown regularly in small batches. This will produce a continuous, fresh supply of these crops. For plants that are prone to bolting, such as coriander, rocket and spinach, successional sowing is especially crucial.
You may choose to grow some longer-fruiting crops such as courgettes, cucumbers, runner beans and sweetcorn in two batches to ensure you have plants well into autumn. Choose a assortment of cultivars for nonstop cropping. Quick-maturing ones such as lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and carrot ‘Adelaide’ are ideal for successional sowings, but later-maturing, main-crop cultivars are also useful and, once mature, often remain in good condition for longer. Successional sowings are usually made at fortnightly intervals, but this may vary depending on environmental conditions. In practice, this means that lettuce may only need to be sown every three weeks in early spring, increasing to once a week in warm, and moist summer weather.
Plants that do not need to be successionally sown include those which produce fruits over a long period such as aubergines, peppers and tomatoes; those which store well, such as onions and pumpkins; and winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and leeks that need a long season to mature and can then be left in the ground to be picked in stages.
Earthing-up - The drawing up of soil around plants, usually with a draw hoe or drag fork. It is carried out on potato crops to prevent greening of tubers and blight infection; also used on brassicas to prevent wind-rock, on leeks and celery to blanch the stems, and in layering and stooling of fruit-tree rootstocks, to encourage the formation of roots on the earthed-up shoots.
Cloche - A low portable unit constructed of glass or rigid-plastic panes on a wire frame; used for the protection of plants and to advance growth. The term is also applied to plastic film stretched over wire hoops, a construction alternative known as a low continuous polythene tunnel.
Forcing - Forcing is a method by which a plant’s leafy growth, flowering or fruiting is speeded up using a change of temperature and exclusion of light to encourage or ‘force’ the plant into growth. In the case of rhubarb or chicory this entails covering the bulbs or crowns with a large pot, dustbin or decorative rhubarb forcer. Plug any holes to exclude light.
Commercial forcing is carried out in specially designed greenhouses or sheds, often with additional bottom heat. In the domestic garden forcing is usually improvised in greenhouses and frames, or achieved with the use of forcing pots to cover individual plants.
Specially prepared bulbs, such as hyacinths, can be forced to provide a steady supply of bulb flowers from late December through April. The bulbs must be planted and kept in a cold dark place until the first signs of growth.
Heeling in - If you don’t have time to plant your bare-rooted shrubs or trees immediately it is perfectly safe to ‘heel them in’ until you have time to deal with them. Remove any packaging and soak the roots of the plant in water for several hours, dig a trench that is deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots of the plant. After you dig the trench, lay the plant in the trench with the plant at an angle so that the canopy is just above the trench and the roots are in the trench. Fill in the trench and if necessary apply a mulch.
Soil improver - Any substance dug in to improve soil structure. This is generally organic matter, such as farmyard manure, garden compost, mushroom compost or leaf mould, but could be an inert substance such as lime or gypsum.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 10 November 2011
Dry shade is one of the most difficult parts of the garden – here at the Garden House we are always being asked for advice on plants that will tolerate this situation.
All the plants that we are recommending come with the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM); that means that they have been tried and tested and have come out well thriving in dry shade conditions.
They will all need lots of watering in their first season to settle them in and you can also help by mulching well with compost and manure or bark chippings. You can even plant through cardboard – water well first to make it more flexible and then using a knife, cut holes in the cardboard for planting through. Cover with bark mulch to weigh the cardboard down and to make it look more attractive.
Our favourite dry shade plants:
Brunnera macrophylla – a member of the borage and comfrey family, it is a really good weed suppressant. It has rather rough, heart-shaped leaves above tough, slowly spreading roots – the effect is rather like a rough-textured hosta, but unlike hostas doesn’t get eaten by slugs and snails! Known as the perennial forget-me-not, it produces very dainty pale blue flowers. The silver form called ‘Jack Frost’ really lights up a shady corner and is lovely cultivar. Height 45cm (18in)
Dryopteris filix-mas - I’m always surprised that this plant is tolerant of dry, shady conditions. If like me you have problems remembering what fern goes where, the clue is in the name DRYopteris! It is known as the shuttlecock fern and once established, its finely dissected widely splayed fronds make a really good contrast to broader foliage. You have to wait for a while for it to reach maturity but it is worth the wait. Two favourite AGM cultivars are ‘Cristata’ and ‘Grandiceps Wills’ – both have crests at the tips of their fronds and of their leaf divisions. Height 1m (39in)
Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ – the poor old Euonymus always seems to get a bad press – maybe because it is often used in places where it doesn’t get looked after very well. It is a great winter plant and when the cold gets to it the small dark leaves, edged in gold, develop a lovely pink tinge. It can be pruned hard in spring and clipped to shape, or if left will also climb walls. It also looks good in containers in a shady position. Height 50cm (20in)
Epimedium x perralchicum – evergreen epimediums, commonly known as bishop’s mitre, are good in dry shade, this one makes a dense clump. This form was found at Wisley, RHS gardens in the 1930s. It is in the same family as Berberis and Mahonia, and has the same yellow roots as these two cousins. In spring sprays of very dainty, dancing, pale yellow flowers cover the foliage. It makes a good weed-smothering hardy perennial cover which is attractive all year. Height 40cm (16in)
Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’ – now is bulb planting time and some of the small narcissi are brilliant in dry shade. ‘Jack Snipe’ has strong stems and small flowers and look great gown in clumps, add plenty of compost before planting to give them a good start.
Geranium macrorrhizum ‘White-Ness’ – this is a lovely cultivar of the hardy geranium. It has a very interesting aroma, also has rather good autumn colour – and it is sometimes evergreen here in Brighton! It flowers May and June when it’s white flowers light up the shade, it’s a really good form. Height 30cm (12in)
Lamium maculatum ‘Ghost’ – such lovely plant, its green-edged silvery foliage really catches the eye so ideal for dry shade. This is a very vigorous growing form. Height 30cm (12in)
Iris foetidissima – the ‘stinking iris’ is a great perennial for tough situations (fear not, it only smells when you crush the leaves!). The heavy-duty long grass-like evergreen foliage is a good feature, and although the flowers are not terribly exciting I love the orange fruits, held in fat pods, that appear in autumn and last for ages. Height 45cm (18in)
Vinca minor ‘Argenteovariegata’ - I love Vinca, its windmill-like flowers are very delicate and it comes in so many different colours and forms. Great for suppressing weeds as it forms a very dense carpet. If you cut it back in March with shears it will produce lots of flowers on the side shoots. It often tends to get neglected but with care it will produce some lovely pale purple flowers in spring, and the leaves are evergreen. Height 10cm (4in) NOTE: Vinca major is best left to larger gardens as it can be quite invasive!
Posted by editor on Friday, 13 May 2011
The Garden House currently has a stunning display of different kinds of ornamental onions – hundreds of blooms, and flowering around three weeks early!
Our mass plantings include: Allium ‘Mont Blanc’, A. hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ AGM, A. atropurpureum, A. nigrum, A. schubertii and our favourite – Allium cristophii.
- Common name – Star of Persia
- Family – Alliaceae
- Height & spread – 30-60cm (12-24in) x 15cm (6in)
- Form – Bulbous perennial
- Soil – Fertile and well-drained soil
- Aspect – Full sun
- Hardiness – Fully hardy, but may be tender when young
Allium mainly come from dry and mountainous areas in the Northern Hemisphere, and have adapted to live in almost every plant habitat, from ice-cold tundra to burning, arid deserts.
There are perennials and biennials, ranging in height from 10cm (4in) to 150cm (5ft) or more – the taller species looking particularly good in groups in a border. After the leaves die back tiny pink-purple star shaped flowers appear clustered together at the top of the stalk, giving this Allium its characteristic ‘lollipop’ look, which in botany is called an umbel.
Typically they have upright to spreading linear-shaped leaves. The tubular based flowers are bell, star or cup-shaped and are borne in spherical umbels 1cm (3/8in) to 10cm (4in) across. Many take on a metallic colour in early summer.
In most species, a single bulb produces clusters of offset bulbs around it, which gradually form clumps. Many Allium give themselves away with the distinctive smell of onions when the bulb or foliage is bruised, and several species have culinary uses, including A. sativum (garlic), culinary onions, shallots and chives.
The Romans are sometimes held responsible for their wide distribution, while the whole group was valued by ancient civilisations as possessing medical and aphrodisiac qualities plus flavour.
Flower stalks dry well and can be used in arrangements or they can be left outside to provide frost-tinged winter interest.
- Grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun
- Plant bulbs 5-10cm (2-4in) deep in autumn
- Plant clump-forming species with rhizomes at or just below the soil surface in spring
- Alliums are susceptible to white rot, downy mildew and onion fly.
- Propagate by offsets, removed when dormant, or by seed in spring at about 13°C (55°F)
- Keep moist and well ventilated, and dry progressively as foliage dies back
- Prick out and pot on when dormant. Seed grown plants, however, may not come true to the parent
- Alternatively, divide clumps of spring-flowering species in summer
The RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee awarded Allium cristophii an Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Posted by editor on Sunday, 24 April 2011
Some bulbs, like daffodils and jonquils, are fine to leave in the ground season after season. However tulips are best dug up and left to dry out. Some tulip bulbs are not winter hardy, hence in cold climates those bulbs should be lifted and stored to be used the next season.
After flowers have finished, cut off the spent flower stems but do not cut back the foliage. Ideally leave in the ground for 2-3 weeks as the period of time after blooming is when tulips use energy to build strong bulbs for next year’s blooms. If you cut off the leaves before they died down naturally, the bulb will not have the reserves to grow and flower the following season. Tulips, unlike daffodils, do not require foliar feed in order to build up the bulb.
With a garden fork carefully prise them from the soil. All physically damaged bulbs should be discarded.
Wash any remaining soil off the bulb and then place as a single layer in a basket or tray that has enough air move through it. The bulbs can also be stored in a paper bag. Carefully label each bag or tray especially if you have different varieties.
Store in a dark, cool and dry place that is well ventilated. Make sure that the temperature is constant. Check regularly and remove any bulbs showing signs of mildew or rotting. Shaking the bulbs in a plastic sack with a little fungicide is a good measure of prevention.
Store until autumn when you can begin to divide the bulbs and replant. The best way to nourish your tulips is to lay down a top dressing of bone meal in the autumn to enrich the soil.
Posted by editor on Monday, 11 April 2011
This fascinating genus contains over 100 species of bulbous perennials, from the tall and dramatic F. imperialis (Crown Imperial) to the delicate F. meleagris (snake’s head fritillary) with its distinctive chequered flower. In the main they originate from around the Mediterranean, Asia and North America (F.meleagris is the one species of fritillaria thought to be native to Britain).
The majority bloom in spring and have distinctive flowers that are generally bell-shaped and pendant. These hardy bulbs need deep, rich and well draining soil and should be planted in autumn to a depth of at least twice that of the bulb. They can also be successfully grown in pots, which in the case of F. imperilais is helpful, making them easier to move under cover during the winter months.
Other favourites include F. persica, a deep dusky mauve, and F. persica Ivory Bells. Flowers are held in long racemes of up to 30 narrowly bell-shaped somewhat conical flowers, about ¾” long with a waxy bloom.
Also look out for Fritillaria michailovskyi, it has up to five, pendant reddish-purple bells with a yellow edge on the outside and a shiny yellow interior. Like F. meleagris it is only 8-10” tall, an exquisite woodland or river meadow gem.
Posted by editor on Monday, 14 February 2011
We enjoyed fine weather and great company on our Garden House visit to Anglesey Abbey last Saturday. “Just to say thank you for a wonderful day out, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your organisation and hospitality is matchless. I am so glad I was able to come along!” Vicky D.
We love Angie B’s sketches of the winter garden, and Mandy D. wrote the following piece:
As winter slowly turns to spring no plant lover should miss the chance to visit the glorious winter display at Anglesey Abbey. Situated not far from Cambridge (not on the Island of Anglesey as most of my friends thought!) this National Trust property and gardens boasts one of the most beautiful and varied winter gardens I have ever seen.
A short walk from the Visitors Centre leads you to the start of the winter garden walk which, even if you did not notice the signs, can be found by following the intoxicating smell of the Sweet Box (Sarcococca), that line the first part of the walkway.
And that’s not all – for those Galanthophiles amongst you (snowdrop lovers to the rest of us!), the Abbey gardens boast over 200 varieties of snowdrop (Galanthus), some labelled and therefore identifiable along the main path and many others in gentle drifts that meander through the woodlands and other areas. My favourite was Galanthus plicatus ‘Hobsons Choice’ (wondered why I picked that one) and another variety named after Anglesey Abbey itself.
And finally, for stunning shrubs and trees, nothing can beat their display of Cornus – reds, greens and yellows – and the glade of Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis ‘jacquemontii’), with its ghostly white bark and statuesque structure, making all who came across them pause, reflect and for some, stay until the sun went down…
If you add to this a lovely sunny day, good company and even a rainbow on our return, it was the perfect day. Thanks weather fairy…
Anglesey Abbey: Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ / Tel. 01223 810080
Posted by editor on Sunday, 6 February 2011
As I’m sure you’ll have worked out by now, here at The Garden House we’re big Galanthus fans! So we’re delighted to tell you that on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February, one of our favourite nurseries, Marchants Hardy Plants, is holding a special sale of snowdrops, together with a cut flower display.
Over 35 different varieties of snowdrop will be available – including the beautiful shaped G. allenii; G. ‘Anglesey Abbey’, a poculiform nivalis type but with bright green leaves; G. ‘Bill Bishop’, a very large flowered and handsome snowdrop; G. ‘Jacquenetta’, the greenest of the doubles; and the more rare G. ‘Wrightson’s Double’, a unique, fat elwesii double (quite scarce and very beautiful).
A number of the bulbs on sale are in short supply and will be sold on a first come first served basis. Bulbs offered are best quality, and are believed to be true to name.
Location: Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ / tel: 01323 811 737
Open: Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February / 10.00am – 4pm
Posted by editor on Sunday, 30 January 2011
Seedy Sunday celebrates its 10-year anniversary – 10 years of swopping seeds, hunting down disappearing or heritage varieties of flowering plants and vegetables. It is the UK’s biggest community seed swap.
Seeds are provided by the people who have grown them – volunteers and other gardeners donate saved seeds which are bagged up before the event – the seeds come in all shapes and sizes, often with stories attached!
Open-pollinated, ‘heritage’ varieties are often no longer commercially available, but are naturally well adapted to local growing conditions – as well as being tasty and colourful. At the seed swap, experienced local growers are on hand to advise on the practicalities of seed saving and growing from seed, and there are films, displays and talks to inspire you to go home and get growing.
Also on offer – seed potatoes to info on recycling and wildlife, plants and bulbs – make this an ideal kick-start to spring!
And The Garden House will be there too, with seeds, bulbs and some wonderful dahlia varieties!
For more information on the Seedy Sunday campaign, go to www.seedysunday.org
Venue: Hove Centre, Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove, E. Sussex / 10am-4.30pm / £2 entrance
Posted by editor on Saturday, 22 January 2011
Although the weather is still likely to be at its worst there will be plenty of signs that things are beginning to wake up. Bulbs are breaking through the soil, buds are beginning to swell on trees and shrubs, and inevitably you’re anxious to get working.
This helps prevent pests and disease harbouring in piles of rotting vegetation. Do bear in mind that weeds will still grow this time of year, especially if this month stays frost free and damp. Remove these ensuring deep roots of perennial weeds are dug out completely.
If soil is prepared for planting cover it with polythene sheeting, this will stop it from getting wet and warm the soil so that when you do plant they will get away quicker.
It’s an ideal time to plant any new bare-rooted specimens, such as deciduous trees and shrubs along with roses. These will benefit from the addition of slow-release fertiliser to the surrounding soil, which in turn should be applied to all your beds.
It is also time to prune late-flowering clematis. These flower on the current years growth, so cutting the stems hard now will prevent plants becoming tangled and untidy. Cut back to the hard woody stems, removing any green growth from last year.
The best place to be at this time of year is in the greenhouse, but don’t start your annuals to early, it’s a long time for seedlings to be in trays and they could get drawn.
Since we have many frosty days this month, it’s a great time to find a comfy seat, a steaming cup of coffee and cake – and look through the seed, plant and landscaping catalogues to let you imagination run wild and decide how you can improve your garden this coming year…
Posted by editor on Sunday, 2 January 2011
Galanthus is a small genus of about 19 species of bulb commonly found throughout Europe and western Asia in upland woodland and rocky sites. Galanthus bloom mainly from late winter to mid-spring, though in their natural habitat they often flower just as the snow is starting to melt.
The name Galanthus is derived from the Greek words gala, meaning milk, and anthos, meaning flower, in allusion to the colour of the flowers. The plants are more commonly known as ‘snowdrops’, from the German Schneetropfen – this common name refers to a style of earring popular in the 16th and 17th centuries in Germany.
One of the best and boldest of the snowdrops, with rounded bell-shaped scented flowers, is variety ‘S.Arnott’ – a favourite of ours!
- Family: Amaryllidaceae
- Height & spread: 15cm (6in) x 8cm (3in)
- Form: Bulbous perennial
- Soil: Moist but well-drained, moderately fertile
- Aspect: Cool shade
- Hardiness: Fully hardy
This snowdrop is vigorous, with narrow, grey-green leaves 7-16cm (3-6in) long. It has large white flowers, which have an inverted V-shaped green mark at the tip of each inner tepal. They are 2.5-3.5cm (1-1.5in) long, strongly honey-scented and are produced in winter and early spring. They look wonderful planted with dark-leaved plants, like Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ or with bright yellow winter aconites, or carpeting the woodland floor under a flowering witch hazel.
Cultivation: Snowdrops grow well in cool shade in any humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil that does not dry out in summer.
They are prone to narcissus bulb fly, which will tunnel into the bulbs and destroy them, and also grey mould (botrytis), which will appear on the leaves but then rot the bulbs.
Propagation: Sow seed as soon as ripe in containers in an open frame, though as Galanthus species readily hybridise the seed may not come true.
Propagate by twin scaling in summer. With this technique a bulb is cut into pairs of scales, each of which produces bulblets.
Lift and divide clumps of Galanthus “in the green”, as soon as the leaves begin to die back after flowering. Replant each bulb individually, at the same level as before, in holes sufficiently wide to spread out the roots.
When all else is bare, it lifts the spirits when you spot patches of snowdrops appearing under shrubs and trees…
If you want to see many, many varieties of Galanthus growing wild (including many rare varieties) – join us on 12 February for an early spring visit to the stunning gardens of Anglesey Abbey. Truly a garden for all seasons – but particularly beautiful in February when it is at it’s most spectacular, and drifts of white snowdrops and yellow aconites add colour to the frosty landscape (details in the DIARY on this website)…
Posted by editor on Sunday, 26 September 2010
We love autumn! It’s always hard to choose between the joy of new growth in spring, the pleasure of a warm summer (if we’re lucky!), and the season of greatest change – autumn…
Autumn smells different, it looks stunning (I’m thinking the drama of leaf colour change), and it’s time for wrapping up warm and putting the garden to bed. But of course, nothing stops, we’re also thinking ahead – forcing bulbs to flower at Christmas, propagating our favourite plants, sowing hardy annuals, and planting bulbs and new plants whilst the soil is still warm.
At The Garden House we have some great autumn workshops and visits coming up.
On Wednesday 20 October, a visit by coach to Sheffield Park and Garden to savor the stunning colour change as the many rare trees and shrubs turn yellow, gold and red…(10am to 3pm / £25 pp for National Trust members and £34 pp for non-NT members).
Then on Friday 22 October we have two events:
- Firstly, The Garden House will be open from 3pm to 6pm. Do come along with a friend – we’re offering FREE demonstrations on seasonal tasks like propagation and bulb-planting, with useful hand-outs to take away with you – and we’ll have a variety of bulbs for sale, also tea or coffee and homemade cake for sale (£4.50 pp).
- Following that, in the evening, one of our favourite local artists, Jo Sweeting, is holding a pumpkin carving workshop (6.30pm-9.15pm / £42 pp, or £40 each for two people booking together – supper and wine included). This will be a brilliant evening – Jo is an amazing sculptor, working more typically in stone – and her carved pumpkins are just so different and inspiring!
All the details of these and other great autumn/winter workshops and courses are in our DIARY…check it out!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 27 February 2010
Having been on a visit to RHS Wisley last week with The Garden House I decided it was so amazing that I visited again this week, this time with my father (who is nearly 90) in tow.
RHS Wisley has such a wealth of information and this time – only a week later , there were different things to see and new plants emerging , despite the dreadful weather!
The alpines were certainly one of the stars of the show and they are a group of plants that I for one tend to forget about – an alpine is mainly grown between the tree line and the line of permanent snow and the conditions they have adapted to are many; altitude, cold, wind, free draining soil, poor soil and also a short growing season.
It is because of these conditions that they tend to be low growing and have leaves that have adapted to reduce moisture loss, so consequently the leaves are often small, rolled up, hairy or succulent. Some are evergreens which reduces the amount of growth they have to make each season.
Alpines are associated with rockeries, this is an attempt to recreate their natural environment but Wisley have them growing in the alpine houses , this is so they keep dry. They really dislike poorly drained soil and damp conditions.
RHS Wisley also has a wonderful educational value – the labelling is fantastic and seeing so many young children really enjoying themselves in the glasshouse was very hopeful – budding horticulturalists!
Do pay Wisley a visit – anytime of year there is so much to see – whatever your age!
Posted by editor on Friday, 19 February 2010
If you’re a Galanthus fan look no further. Friday 19 and Saturday 20 February, one of our favourite nurseries, Marchants Hardy Plants, is holding a special sale of snowdrops, together with a cut flower display.
Many Galanthus species and hybrids and forms will be available – including the beautiful shaped G. allenii; G. x gracilis, Marchants own hybrid selection, with inner segments of solid deep green; G. ‘Bill Bishop’, a very large flowered and handsome snowdrop; G. ‘Jacquenetta’, the greenest of the doubles; and the more rare G. ‘Wrightson’s Double’, a unique, fat elwesii double (quite scarce and very beautiful).
However a number of the bulbs on sale are in short supply and will be sold on a first come first served basis. Bulbs offered are best quality, and are believed to be true to name.
Plantsman and nursery owner Graham Gough writes:
“Snowdrops are not difficult to grow. In fact, it might be said that they are relatively easy provided a few rules of thumb are observed. They do not enjoy dense shade. Nor do they like stagnant, badly drained soil. Good drainage is therefore a must. Acid or lime soils seem to make little difference – we have seen them flourishing on both. That said, our own Snowdrops have relished growing on a thin chalk soil for many years which should be encouraging for those of you who happen to garden on this ‘hungry’ alkaline type soil. Dappled shade can also be advantageous though many Snowdrops will also prosper in full sun. As you may have gathered, they are really very amenable creatures and associate well with virtually all late winter and early spring flowering plants.
When the bulb you have purchased begins to increase and clump up (2/3 years), you can engage in the pleasure of increasing your stock by dividing the clump. (Clumps left to their own devices sometimes have a habit of ‘going back’ or dying out altogether). Division usually takes place in Feb/March when plants are ‘In the green’. This can be during or after flowering ( though most books will tell you to do it after). We have noticed little difference. Having gently teased the clump apart, it is important to plant at the same depth or perhaps a lttle deeper if the bulbs have risen to the surface, adding a little bone meal if you like to give your snowdrops a treat. On heavy soils the addition of sharp grit is efficacious. Any remaining nurture should be patiently left to Mother nature.”
Location: Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ / tel: 01323 811 737
Open: Friday 19 and Saturday 20 February / 10.00am – 5pm