The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday



There are some amazing bulb offers out there now. Talking to specialist supplier John Armand (at jacques, he says some customers will buy 10,000 tulips in January, not only reaping half-price offers but also the added benefit that late planting means there is less time to lose bulbs to squirrels.

Additional­ly, the shorter time in the ground means that bulbs are less susceptibl­e to tulip fire disease (which is usually worse on acid soil).

I succumbed to these tempting offers this week: more tulips, also more

Eremurus robustus, Allium ‘Red Mohican’ and an exciting new allium, ‘Metallic Shine’. The new allium is a cross hybrid of

christophi­i and, according to John, the flowers are a little taller and darker. The eremurus (foxtail lily) can be planted up until March.

I never find the success rate great for these but when a new plant does actually establish, they really thrive here. Eremurus likes a cold

Star attraction: the longrooted foxtail lily bulb

winter: in Hokkaido in northern Japan – which has winter temperatur­es of -20C and hot summers – they are a phenomenal sight when in flower.

John recommends to plant these funny starfishli­ke bulbs with long roots 25mm below the soil. They appreciate sharp drainage (so maybe add grit) and a sunny position. Their tall plumes will appear around June or July, hopefully.

Allium ‘Red Mohican’ is a later flowering one, around July; it is a superb maroon with curious tufts of petals on top; the stems are around 90cm tall.

A lot of the colour and interest in my new rose meadow will be from bulbs, biennials and perennials in the early years, so these laterflowe­ring bulbs will help spread interest into the summer. When the roses reach a useful size the dynamic will alter somewhat.

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