As autumn sweeps in we look at what to expect in the world of interiors,
At this time of year, it’s a delight to plan for spring and a carpet of white will brighten up dull days
MY JOB at the moment is devising a planting scheme for a private garden. I have selected a delightful collection of perennials, grasses and roses for a one-and-a-half metre deep, long curved border.
But the real delight at this time of year is to plan for my own garden and start planting the first bulbs of winter and spring.
This year I’m going for a white theme. The reason is because white looks so pure against the dark soil and the decaying matter of the previous year’s garden. It pushes up like a fresh harbinger of what is to come, its purity sparkles and lights up dull days. The first area I’ll tackle is the dry soil under my birch trees in the front garden. I’ve already got plenty of blue flowering bulbs here such as anemones, bluebells, hyacinth and chionodoxa, as well as some purple and yellow crocuses.
Into this mix I’m going to add some giant white crocus ‘Jeanne d’arc’ which have gorgeous pure white petals with bright yellow stamens. These little bulbs are so easy to plant – just press them a couple of inches under the soil.
I’ll also use some white anemone ‘White Splendour.’ Anemone blanda spreads very easily to form a carpet of pretty daisy flowers in this soil. It’s a good idea to soak the bulbs for a couple of hours or even overnight before planting for best results.
I’d love dog’s tooth violet (Erythronium dens-canis) and there is a beautiful cultivar ‘White Beauty’ with marbled leaves and gentle re-curved petals. However, these are not suitable for dry soil – they need some moisture or they will dry up. White muscari is an option. ‘White Magic’ will naturalise well but is also perfect for window boxes.
For maximum scent, hyacinths are always superb. I’ve some blue ones that were originally forced for indoors at Christmas which I then planted out after flowering into the garden.
While they come up much later when left to flower naturally, the perfume they emit is intoxicating – definitely one for the pathway to the front door.
Daffodils are a must – I have lots of ‘tête-à-tête,’ the little yellow one, and there is a white version of this available as well. These dwarf narcissi are also perfect for rockeries and container gardening. I’m also thinking of ‘Thalia,’ a really elegant oldfashioned white daffodil. It’s not a showy variety but planted en masse it looks magnificent.
White flowering tulips will look super in simple terracotta pots. ‘Shirley’ is a simple ivory-white flower with a very subtle purple outline on the petals. However, it’s a bit early to get going on tulip planting in September – this job is best left until November to avoid the risk of tulip blight. My final choice is a much later flowering bulb, allium. ‘Mount Everest’ has a big white globe of flower and to my mind is the best large white allium. For a pop of white hovering over your borders in May and June, this architectural three-footer will delight not just you but bees on the hunt for nectar.
Allium stipitatum ‘Mount Everest’
Anemone ‘White Splendour’
Hyacinth ‘White Magic’
Dog’s Tooth Violet Erythronium ‘White Beauty’
Giant White Crocus ‘Jeanne D’arc’
White tulips look great in terracotta pots