Get Set For Spring

Ex­pert gar­dener John Stoa is al­ready plant­ing bulbs for a daz­zling show next year . . .

The People's Friend Special - - GARDENING -

AS we move into au­tumn, the sum­mer flow­ers start to fade, the leaves be­gin to fall, hot sum­mer tem­per­a­tures are a dis­tant mem­ory, and we know win­ter is not too far away. So we turn our at­ten­tion to spring flow­ers and how we can en­hance them.

My own gar­den has hun­dreds of spring bulbs planted over the years and should be fully stocked, though we still man­age to find space for a few more. Tubs, hang­ing bas­kets and flower bor­ders al­ways need fresh bulbs each year.

To­wards the end of each springs s I do an as­sess­ment on the suc­cess of my spring flow­ers to see if any mprove­ments are needed f for the fol­low­ing year.

Some­times I have tried out new va­ri­eties of bulbs, and if they have turned out to be out­stand­ing, I’ll buy n more to en­hance the d dis­play.

The first bulbs to flower are nearly al­ways the snow­drops, fol­lowed by aconites. With global warm­ing af­fect­ing our weather, mild win­ters have been quite com­mon.

So the snow­drops which pre­vi­ously be­gan to flower in late Fe­bru­ary can now ap­pear from mid De­cem­ber on­wards, es­pe­cially if planted in a shel­tered bor­der.

In win­ter it is nice to en­joy gar­den flow­ers from the com­fort of your home, so plant snow­drops and aconites where they can be seen from liv­ing-room and kitchen win­dows.

Make the most of other ar­eas that might not at first be ob­vi­ous. De­cid­u­ous trees and shrubs are per­fect for es­tab­lish­ing drifts of snow­drops, aconites, daf­fodils, wood anemones, blue­bells and many other flow­er­ing bulbs.

I also use dwarf early tulips amongst my roses as they pro­vide a great dis­play of colour in the spring, when the roses are just break­ing bud. Then, as the tulip leaves be­gin to fade, the roses start to put on growth.

Once the bulbs are dor­mant in early sum­mer, the bed be­longs to the roses, un­af­fected by the bulbs amongst their roots.

Herba­ceous bor­ders are an­other area where bare soil can be im­proved by plant­ing spring bulbs in be­tween plant groups.

There is usu­ally plenty of time for these bulbs to flower, pro­duce leaves, then die down be­fore the herba­ceous plants need the room.

Hy­acinths, grape hy­acinths, chion­o­doxa and anemone blanda are all per­fect here, but keep the grape hy­acinths un­der con­trol as they can be very suc­cess­ful and end up be­ing a bit in­va­sive.

Nar­cis­sus and daf­fodils fol­low on after the cro­cus show, and of­ten be­fore the tulip dis­play. It is easy to find spots to plant in.

Many of them have strong scents, such as the jon­quils and Cheer­ful­ness group, so keep them near pa­tios and ac­cess points where their per­fume can be ap­pre­ci­ated.

It is also a good idea to plant tulips along­side other gar­den plants flow­er­ing in spring. Pul­monaria with blue flow­ers can have early red Abba and yel­low Bel­lona tulips planted amongst it. The yel­low daisy-flow­ered Doron­icum Lit­tle Leo is per­fect for red Abba and pur­ple Negrita early tulips.

If these are in a bor­der, add Phlox sub­u­lata in red or pink at the front as it flow­ers at the same time.

Start off the sea­son in March when the yel­low sax­ifrage is in bloom by plant­ing some red tulips, Scar­let Baby, which will flower at the same time in a nor­mal sea­son.

An­other idea worth ex­plor­ing is to plant part of a bor­der with sev­eral bulbs at dif­fer­ent depths and each one flow­er­ing at a dif­fer­ent time.

I am try­ing this idea with mixed cro­cus to flower in March, fol­lowed by grape hy­acinths in April. Then tulips and nar­cis­sus take over, keep­ing the bor­der in flower into May.

How­ever, once these all die down, my ori­en­tal lilies emerge from be­low, grow­ing strongly up to four or five feet tall and open­ing their huge scented flow­ers in sum­mer. I am us­ing lily Casablanca, Stargazer, Chelsea, Brasilia and Golden Splen­dour.

Most of these lilies can be or­dered in au­tumn for plant­ing in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber, though some may be a spring de­liv­ery.

I have an­other bor­der ded­i­cated to these highly per­fumed ori­en­tal lilies, but as their main dis­play is in mid­sum­mer, I add the tall Dar­win Hy­brid tulips, red Apel­doorn and Golden Apel­doorn for a spring dis­play.

Their growth needs are in dif­fer­ent months so there is no prob­lem keep­ing them to­gether, and if the soil un­der­neath the lilies is a bit bare in sum­mer, sow down some quick-grow­ing Cal­i­for­nian pop­pies. These will nat­u­ralise if left to seed and re­turn ev­ery year.

Blue­bells are a favourite un­der de­cid­u­ous trees, but they can be in­va­sive, so it may be nec­es­sary to re­move seed heads after flow­er­ing to con­trol their spread.

Most bulbs like nor­mal soil that drains well, es­pe­cially lilies. Sun or dap­pled shade is fine, but cro­cuses need sun to open up the flow­ers.

As a gen­eral rule, plant in holes twice as deep as the bulb size and space bulbs about four to six inches apart for snow­drops, aconites and other small bulbs. But go to nine to twelve inches apart for tulips and daf­fodils. Lilies will need one or two feet apart de­pend­ing on size.

You can leave on seed heads wher­ever you want drifts to in­crease, but it is best to re­move them to con­serve en­ergy for build­ing up a strong bulb to flower the next year.

A golden lily.

White cro­cuses.

Blue-flow­ered anemone blanda.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.