Monday, 27 June 2016

THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN



THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN

The world today is vastly different from our world when we were kids. As people moved away from city centre slums to the new housing estates around the town periphery, everyone suddenly had a garden, and soon learned about growing a few vegetables. As this was a source of cheap food, every family got involved including the kids. It was our job to do the digging and weeding as well as watering. However we soon reaped the rewards as the first radish were quick to appear, followed by early pea pods. In autumn we chose the biggest swede for our Halloween lantern as pumpkins hadn’t been invented for that task. As we grew up we started adult life with an understanding about
Sophie weeding the tub with fuchsia
gardening and a love of outdoor activities. Today electronic gadgets have taken over our kid’s lives and very few kids go outdoors to play thus knowledge of nature is being lost. This is a recognised problem, so now many adults and schools are taking steps to get our kids involved in nature and gardening. Kids love to be involved in seed sowing, planting and watching their own plants grow. My kids wanted to grow their own apple trees, so after eating an apple they kept the seeds and sowed them in pots. They got a dozen apple seedlings which they then planted on my allotment. Realising it would take about fifteen years for them to mature and fruit, I quietly grafted some shoots of Cox, Laxtons Superb and Worcester Pearmain onto them in spring. They all fruited two years later and my kids were really chuffed.
We just love the tulips
Some quick growing plants are great for the kid’s garden as they see results soon. Radish, lettuce, peas, rocket and beans are all favourites and the runner beans let them see how plants can grow tall quite quickly, but for a really tall plant give them some sun flower seeds.
Pumpkins are another favourite to see how big they can grow them, and then they get the biggest for their Halloween lantern. To carve a scary lantern is another skill to master.
To get them involved in cooking the produce, rhubarb picking for a crumble fits the bill. It is easy to grow, easy to pick and the crumble is delicious. Another summer favourite for kids is strawberry picking, but try to stop them eating them all before you get them home.
Even garden pests can prove attractive to kids as they search the cabbages for a pet caterpillar to take home in a ventilated jar and feed it up with fresh cabbage leaves. Then patience is required when it forms into a chrysalis and hibernates over winter before the butterfly emerges in spring.
Garden birds can be encouraged with feeders well stocked up, and kids can learn to identify all the different types.
Smith family planting pumpkins
Another good idea is to get kids to plant up a scented garden of herbs and flowers to see the variety of scented leaves and flowers that also attract butterflies and bees. Lavender is perfect for bees.
Although there is a massive range of different flowers, they are all involved to seed production, so it is a good idea to let children study and draw the different parts of the flower and the function they perform. This also involves the flowers of trees that are wind pollinated. Kids find this knowledge fascinating. This can also involve collecting leaves in the autumn for plant identification, as well as seeds and pods. Many plants will come true from home saved seed, so the kids can grow plants from their own seed collections.
Back at home the windowsill is a perfect place for a small cactus collection, many of which will flower if they face south and kept on the dry side.

Wee jobs around the garden

The war on garden pests continues, and with recent wet weather the slugs and snails are very active. I use slug pellets for lettuce, strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower and Kale and French marigold flowers which they seem to just love.
Greenfly are also breeding in plague proportions so an insecticide spray should sort them out.
The same spray will work on scale on the undersides of rhododendrons, which is becoming a new problem.

END

Monday, 20 June 2016

Figurative oil painting, Waiting Patiently

My figurative oil painting of "Waiting Patiently" will be exhibited at the Orchar Fine Art gallery in Commercial Street Dundee for their Summer Exhibition.
Waiting Patiently is a figurative oil painting

A FEW FAVOURITES



A FEW FAVOURITES

Gardening is a year round activity with flowers, fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers for the house, winter landscaping and digging and trying out new plants and ideas. I grow a very wide range of plants and am often asked, “What is my favourite plant”. I suppose everyone has their favourites, but I like so many that I cannot single out just one, so I thought I would look at those that have the biggest impact on me throughout the seasons. I try to create a garden that has at least one area of impact for a couple of weeks or so then another area has its day. This means bringing together plants that flower at the same time, rather than have them scattered around the garden.
Betula jacquemontii
Winter
There is a distinct lack of flowers in the garden from November to the end of February when the snowdrops appear and indicate that winter is coming to an end. Though the last few years, with mild winters, the snowdrops have been coming into flower from December onwards. My winter border has Kerria, Japanese maples, cornus and other coloured stemmed shrubs that brighten up the dark winter days, with my favourite, white stemmed birch tree, Betula jacquemontia. The main trunk is a brilliant white and on a clear day with blue skies it is very dramatic.
Spring
Once the warmer weather comes along there are numerous plants all competing for their two to three weeks of glory. At ground level the crocus can make a great show followed by daffodils then tulips in late spring, but this is also the time for rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias to flower as well as the flowering cherries. It is very hard to pick a favourite as each group can make a bright splash of colour in their own time before the next one has its turn. Last year my favourite would have been my red Camellia Adolph
Doronicum with tulip Negrita
Audusson, but this year the biggest impact was from a large group of yellow Doronicums which I had underplanted with a purple tulip all flowering at the same time.
Summers
This year after a long cool spring summer arrived and lasted a lot longer than we could have hoped for so the garden just burst into flower. Summer colour usually belongs to the roses, but before they came into flower I got a fantastic show from my oriental poppies, flag iris and Euphorbia polychrome.
Climbing rose Dublin Bay
Then at ground level my deep pink phlox and bright yellow Delosperma were outstanding and both came with a fantastic perfume. By mid summer my red climbing rose Dublin Bay stole the show as it covers the front of the house from ground level right up to the roof. Just a pity it has no scent, but for sheer impact it has to be the favourite.
Autumn
Fuchsia Mrs Popple
As summer fades and autumn takes over the dazzling colours of deciduous trees and shrubs will brighten up most gardens with my maple Sangokaku hard to beat, but Fuchsia Mrs Popple comes into flower from mid summer and last year continued till the first frosts arrived. It was definitely the favourite with the added bonus that the mass of flowers all produced a wealth of edible fruit. These all got picked and put into the juicer for a delightful and very different drink.


Wee jobs to do this week

The allotment has benefitted from great growing conditions, but now many rows of radish, lettuce, dwarf French beans, beetroot, chard, turnip, Swedes and parsnips are all needing thinned out. I usually do this in two operations with the first to remove weeds and give the seedlings room to develop, then the final thinning is to select the strongest plants and thinned to the desired spacing.

 End


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Lady in Red project

Lady in Red in the High Street
Lady in Red is my latest art project painting in oils on board and canvas. The lady in Red is seen in many iconic locations around Dundee City Centre, including the McManus Gallery, Mercat Cross, town centre, Tay Bridge, beside the Bandstand at Magdalen Green and outside the Trades Bar and the Bank Bar in Union Street.
Lady in Red has a Night Out
Lady in Red goes Shopping

Lady in Red in the Rain

Sunday, 12 June 2016

SUMMER HAS ARRIVED



SUMMER HAS ARRIVED

Summer has made a very welcome return to the Tayside region, and unusually the west of Scotland including Glasgow is properly tropical. It has been too hot to garden except early mornings and evenings and the hose pipe has been in constant use. Garden plants are just loving this weather. Rhododendrons, azaleas, ceanothus, viburnum mareisii, laburnum trees, phlox subulata and Iceland poppies are running the show, but roses and flag iris are not far behind.
Tubs, pots and hanging baskets have now all been planted up with geraniums, fuchsias, begonias, marigolds and other summer flowering bedding plants. The pansies removed from them still had flowers on them so they got planted in a spare patch of border, and after watering them in, they are now putting on a great display.
Mixed Azaleas
However this weather is also perfect for greenfly now breeding in plague proportions on roses, lilies, gooseberries and my young lettuce, but this is good weather for spraying in the evening.
Delosperma nubigenum
My first few strawberries got picked in mid May and serious picking began at the end of May from Elsanto grown under low polythene tunnels. Fresh strawberries for breakfast and lunch; now you know summer is here, and added to the pleasure of summer strawberries is the summer scents around the garden. I never really thought that Phlox subulata was scented, maybe it is just the right weather, but it has been outstanding and the ground hugging Delosperma nubigenum smothered in yellow daisy like flowers is positively exotic with a heady perfume. Then of course the azaleas are also well scented in my heather garden and near the entrance my blue petunias in tubs and baskets have always added perfume to all who enter.
This is the time for healthy eating with lettuce, radish, spring onion, baby beet and rocket all ready together, and rhubarb is throwing up healthy stems faster than we can pick them. Space in the freezer has been created for the spare crops as they come in, and I will be getting some demijohns ready as the Saskatoon berries will be ready for picking in mid July.
Most other fruit crops are showing a massive potential of crop, especially apples, currants, gooseberries, blueberries, chokeberries, strawberries and grapes. However apple Fiesta had a great year last year and has a biennial tendency so it looks like this could be its “off” year.
Phlox subulata
Raspberries also look good, but too early to assess at this stage. Though not everything is looking rosy as my pear tree with four different varieties on it produced plenty of flowers but I only see a handful of pears.
In the greenhouse full ventilation is essential with windows fully open and doors open while the heat wave continues. Tomatoes are now flowering on the third truss and looking very strong, even though I have only just started to feed them.
Black Hamburg grapes look brilliant, and my new Siegerrebe vine is just a mass of fruit, so I hope it produces more foliage to support this heavy crop which looks like it may need to be thinned out later on. Outdoors all my vines are looking good, but Rondo is ahead with Regent not far behind. Solaris and Phoenix are trailing but may just be late starters. If this weather continues it could be the vintage year our grapes require so they can produce enough sugar in the berry to produce a wine with at least 10% potential alcohol or higher. Last year my grapes only achieved 8% potential alcohol so to make a decent brew I had to add some wine concentrate and sugar. While this is fine for the home brewer it is not commercially acceptable, so Scotland’s potential for vineyards is still in the experimental stages.

Wee jobs around the garden

Herbaceous perennials are now putting on plenty of growth so make sure the taller ones such as peonies, oriental poppies and delphiniums are well supported as many have large flower heads.

END

Monday, 6 June 2016

FLOWER SHOWS



FLOWER SHOWS

Flower shows have played a very important role in most gardeners’ lives. This is the place where plants can be seen at their best, new landscape design from professionals and colleges is on display and new plants appear so we can try out something different. The competitive gardener can also compete with others to see who can grow the best plants in the show. The shows are a meeting place for gardening friends, and now come with a huge range of other entertaining events including food, drink, forestry, art, live bands and dancers. There are so many plants of every description grown to perfection on display and for sale that it is impossible to leave the show without at least one must have essential plant. Most shows have a sell off on the last hour of the last day when bargain hunters have a field day, and traders try to reduce their stock as they really do not want to take it all back home. Even composts, fertiliser, rock dust, hanging baskets and large specimen plants are all there for the taking at hugely reduced costs. The mass exodus of people and plants leaving at the end of a show with a smile on their face and struggling home with huge plants is a very entertaining sight. My first flower show was in the Dundee Ice Rink over fifty years ago, and I have been going to one or other show ever since. Although I go as a visitor, I have attended many shows as a trader.
Anna with white clematis
I had three years displaying paintings in the art marquee at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, then several years selling a range of plants including saskatoons at Ingliston in Edinburgh and Camperdown Park in Dundee. Traders are a very friendly and helpful group and friendships are made at every event.
One year at Ingliston I found my onion hoe in constant use ever since, plus a bag of rock dust and a bag of compost made from sheep wool and bracken and Anna got her Peonia Doreen, then the next year at Camperdown I think Anna got the national collection of Heucheras which she just could not resist. The shows always leave you with great memories of the plants you find, the people you meet and for me one great afternoon at Ingliston was hearing the Red Hot Chilli Pipers playing Snow Patrols Chasing Cars. Fantastic music on a lovely summer’s day.
Camperdown Park hosts our local food and flower show in early September and further afield at Ingliston in Edinburgh Gardening Scotland has a massive show on now from 3rd to 5th June 2016, then in August the Southport Flower show is on from 18th to 21st August 2016.
In the Midlands in rural Malvern the RHS put on a spring festival in May then an autumn show at the end of September at the Three Counties show ground.
Peonia Doreen
For those visiting London a visit to see the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show from 5th to 10th July 2016 is an unmissable experience. Although I attended three shows as a trader, I still had plenty time to see the show as fellow traders looked after my stand as I took a wee break.
However it is the Chelsea Flower Show held at the end of last month that has the most prestige. It is not the biggest show, but held in the highest regard. Exhibiting with the RHS at Chelsea would be most exhibitors dream. Chelsea is where you can see Royals and celebrities from the gardening world as well as entertainers, past and present, and the countries best garden designers will create a modern vision of how a garden can look. As a gardener it is always the use of plants that has the biggest impact for me, but the creative use of hard landscaping, integrating the house into the outdoor environment has been really outstanding.
Visitors to Kew Gardens
The Royal family gives great support to this show and look out for Mr Motivator, Twiggy, Dame Judi Dench and Jeremy Paxman and a host of other very famous faces from the world of entertainment.

Wee jobs around the garden

Lift young leek plants grown from seed in an outdoor drill and after a gentle top and tail transplant them into dibbled holes about six inches deep, spacing them six inches apart. Water them in to secure them.

END

Monday, 30 May 2016

THE ALLOTMENT WORKOUT



THE ALLOTMENT WORKOUT

Gardening can be an exhausting hobby. As an apprentice gardener we were often used as a source of cheap labour. The Parks dept grew fields of potatoes and Swedes at Camperdown park for the schools kitchens and it was us that planted, weeded and lifted them, as well as sorting, cleaning, bagging and lifting the hundred weight sacks into stacks for storing. We were always competitive so hard work to us was fun, and as a wee treat we got a small bag of tatties home.
Digging drains by hand at Dawson Park all winter, as the machine kept breaking down, was also our task. We must have had plenty energy, as me and my fellow apprentice lived in St. Mary’s and we cycled to work each day. In the early sixties Dundee embarked on a programme of bringing flowers to the town so we grew roses by the thousand. All rose beds got double dug two feet deep adding in plenty of manure but the hard work was rewarded when the roses came into flower.
Today I have a fair sized garden plus an allotment, and as all works have to be done by the book, so single digging and double digging where necessary still have to get done.
Planting potatoes
It is a modern idea that the nation needs to get fit, so going to the gym for a workout is quite popular and fashionable. However it is not cheap and at times the repetitive exercises can be a wee bit boring, so I analysed all my gardening activities and reckon that getting an allotment will give you just as much exercise, but at a fraction of the cost. Annual renting of a plot of land is well below £50 a year. Add to that all the very fresh fruit and vegetables available all year round makes allotment life a better option to keep fit with added health benefits of fresh produce.
Shredding prunings at City Road allotments
During the winter months there is the digging, manuring, pruning fruit bushes and trees, then shredding the prunings which get wheel barrowed up steep paths to the compost heap. Any permanent planting of fruit trees and bushes will require soil to be double dug.
Then on dry days fences need fixing and sheds and greenhouses are sure to need repairs to keep them wind and water free.
In spring we break down the soil and rake it level ahead of sowing and planting. Deep furrows are needed for potato planting adding some compost to the bottom of the trench, then earthing them up.
The compost heap is beginning to build up, so it will need turning over to help fresh garden and kitchen waste to rot down. This task will need repeating another twice in summer and autumn.
As seedlings begin to grow they will need thinning out and weeds will take over unless you get down to soil level. Gardeners always develop strong backs with all this bending, and it doesn’t get any better with age as your sight is not as good as previous so you need to bend even closer to the ground so you can tell the weeds from the rows of seedlings.
Harvesting the Red Devil apples
Summer is when we get our rewards for all the hard work as we pick our first strawberries, raspberries, peas and the first of our early potatoes. Then as the temperatures rise we can relax on the patio with a small glass of Saskatoon, blackcurrant or apple homebrew. However these moments of sheer heaven are short lived as the harvesting season kicks in with a very heavy crop of broad beans, picking the whole crop in the morning, get the beans out of the pods, remove the skins from each seed, then bag up for the freezer, to be completed so we can sit down and relax before the ten o’clock news comes on. Then it is the onions to lift and dry off, followed by sweet corn.
Autumn now kicks in and serious harvesting begins with potatoes then apples, plums and pears.
When you look back over the year, you begin to wonder if membership of a local gym might be no such a bad idea.

Wee jobs to do this week

As new crops begin to grow but will take several weeks to use up their allotted space, sow some quick maturing catch crops such as radish, salad leaves or rocket.

 End


Monday, 23 May 2016

LIFE ON THE PLOT



LIFE ON THE PLOT

The gardener’s weather plays a very important role in our activities. Plant growth was running around two weeks or more later than normal, then all of a sudden we get our Scottish summer (three, sorry, four continuous cloudless hot days in mid May) on the east of Scotland while the south of England has been basking in hot weather for weeks. However it was brilliant to see the Isle of Skye as the country hot spot for sun and high temperatures. It has always been one of my favourite holiday destinations and gives me a wealth of images to paint.
However coming back from holiday mode and down to soil level, it has been great to catch up with planting and sowing, and even watering as our soil begins to dry out.
City road allotments has been a hive of activity as plotters enjoy a spot of leisure gardening. Weeds have not been a big problem as the cool spring held them back, but now seed sowing and planting are at full speed, but land is scarce as some overwintered crops are still taking up space. I have excellent winter hardy lettuce, Swiss chard, rocket and spring onions ready for the table from early March onwards and my cauliflower Aalsmeer, sown last autumn will be ready at the end of May.
Overwintered lettuce and chard
Lettuce, radish, spring onions and beetroot sown early in cellular trays indoors and transplanted under low polythene tunnels is now well established and I should be picking the first of these fresh healthy salads at the beginning of June.
Strawberry Elsanta, also under tunnels is well ahead and I hope to pick my first fruit at the end of this month especially if this warm spell continues. I am trying a new perpetual strawberry called Albion. This everbearer was bred in California and gets a good rating so I hope our Scottish climate doesn’t give him a fright. Another strawberry newcomer to try out is Sweet Colossus said to have gigantic fruit and still very sweet and juicy. Better make sure the slugs and local blackbirds are kept well at bay.
Strawberry Elsanta under tunnel
Parsnip, turnip and swede have all been sown and my first early pea Kelvedon Wonder and first early potato Casa Blanca are all well up. Both got earthed up earlier just in case of a late frost.
Dwarf French beans are now sown and other plotters have planted out their runner beans, started earlier under cold greenhouses.
Summer cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and kale are now all planted and protected from slugs, (pellets) rootfly (collars) and pigeons with nets.
Pumpkins and courgettes sown at the beginning of May and pricked out into individual pots in mid May are well ahead, but the land where they are destined to grow has been sown down with a clover green manure. Unfortunately the cold weather has held this back, so the idea might not be successful this year. Time will tell.
Saskatoons in flower
This green manured patch was also earmarked for my sweet corn, but these grew so rapidly that they needed planting well before the clover even germinated, so they are now planted on another patch earmarked for root crops. As this area had not been manured, I brought in a load of well rotted garden compost and forked it in just a few inches deep. They seem quite happy at this stage.
Gladioli and chrysanthemums give me some cut flower for the house as well as adding colour to the plot, so they always find a spot in the crop rotation. Good weather has allowed planting of these.

Wee jobs around the garden

Heathers of the Calluna type often flower in summer to autumn. To keep the plants bushy trim back any long shoots removing about 4 to 6 inches as they are now beginning to grow beyond last years flower spike and looking a bit leggy.
Remove seed heads from daffodils and tulips and discard. Seed heads from other bulbs such as snowdrops, crocus, anemone blanda, chionodoxa and aconites can be saved or scattered to increase stock as these will all grow again. However bluebells and grape hyacinths should be discarded once they have filled their allotted space otherwise they would love to take over the garden.

END

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A DAY IN THE GREENHOUSE



A DAY IN THE GREENHOUSE

April and early May have had more than their share of cold biting winds, but the greenhouse is protected from this, so plants have been putting on a lot of growth. Trying to harden off my onions, dahlias and sweet corn has been a real headache. They go out on a sunny morning but with strong cold winds, then with a wee frost forecast over nights, they had to go back inside, only to repeat this process day after day. The hardier plants such as my cabbages, cauliflower and sprouts went out, never suffered much so they are all now planted. Geraniums are quite tough, so they went out early, then in mid April many got planted in tubs and pots. However some had put on a good bit of growth, then along came the strong winds and broke them in half.
I still have a lot of young dahlia and chrysanthemum cuttings recently rooted and now ready to pot up, but they will stay in the greenhouse for a week or so to get established.
Fig cuttings, grape vine cuttings and some gooseberry cuttings will stay a bit longer under glass as they are slow to put on growth.
Planting tomatoes in prepared border
Pumpkins & courgettes sown in late April have now germinated and will soon be potted up into individual pots, and will remain in the greenhouse for a few more weeks.
Tuberous begonias are always slow to grow. I have about forty growing in deep polystyrene boxes, but now the foliage is expanding they will need separating and either boxing up with a lot more space or potting up into big pots. They may take up a lot of glasshouse space, but they would not be happy with these cold nights and strong winds, so hardening off will be a wee bit later.
A summer hanging basket planted with fuchsia Southern Belle, is still under glass as the fuchsia has been extremely slow to put on any growth. My outdoor hardy fuchsia Mrs Popple has more shoots on it. Southern Belle needs a few more warm sunny days.
The tomato border has now been prepared with digging in a lot of good garden compost and adding some fertiliser. It was then well watered and a couple of days later my tomatoes got planted. My main crop is still favourite Alicante with Sweet Million my best cherry type and this year I am trying another cherry, the yellow fruited Sungold, and a beefsteak type known as Costoluto fiorentino, an Italian Heirloom variety.
Pepper Tobasco sown in mid March germinated just fine then got potted up, but they really need warm conditions, so growth has been at a standstill. Just like humans they eagerly await the summer. Whatever happened to the promise of a wee bit of global warming for Scotland!!!
Fuchsia Southern Belle
Grape Black Hamburg and Siegerebe both appear to be well ahead in growth and many shoots are showing two bunches of grapes. There was an abundance of young shoots from every spur and most had bunches, so some thinning was necessary. I took out all the weakest shoots and on one upright rod thinned all the grapes to one bunch per shoot to give me a bigger dessert size bunch, but on another rod I am allowing all the bunches to develop. This will give me smaller grapes, but hopefully a heavier crop which is better for my wine making.

Wee jobs around the garden

Late spring is often a time when we can take advantage of a few dry days to do some spraying. Knowing the rain will not wash the chemicals off is important as most need a few dry days to work. Spray paths with an herbicide containing glyphosate which is absorbed by the leaves which then translocate it to the roots to kill all of the weeds.
Moss on lawns and drives can be controlled with sulphate of iron at a rate of one dessert spoon per two gallon can.
Greenfly on roses, blackcurrants, gooseberries and blackfly on cherries can be killed off with an insecticide designed to tackle greenfly and a host of other pests.

END

Thursday, 12 May 2016

TULIPS



TULIPS

This must be one of the best ever years for spring flowering bulbs. In normal years we get a spring flush when a few really sunny warm days all come along together, but there has been none of that this year. Instead the long cool spell has been a boon as flowers are slow to open but remain in place for much longer than normal. Thus the tulips are having a great time alongside the daffodils and narcissi which are continuing to flower well past their season.
The garden is now seeing the benefits of flower bulb recycling over the years, as all bulbs used in flower beds, pots, tubs and baskets are replanted all over the garden and allowed to naturalise. Left to do their own thing without disturbance, and given a wee dressing of well rotted garden compost in early winter they seem to thrive and clumps build up over time to create magnificent drifts of mixed colours.
Tulip Carnaval du Nice
Last autumn flower tubs were planted up with polyanthus and winter pansies all underplanted with tulips, hyacinths and crocus. The tulips used were all dwarf early types so the flowers would show just above the bedding plants. Some of my favourite tulips included Monsella, Red Riding Hood, Peach Blossom and Abba. One large wooden tub has a group of scented oriental lilies for summer colour and fragrance. To give some spring colour the tub was also planted with Iceland poppies and a yellow single early tulip Cape Town. These will all be left to naturalise, but if the Iceland poppies begin to go over in mid summer they will be replaced with another late summer bedding plant.
I have always experimented with companion planting, so I thought it would be great to start the show early with tulips flowering alongside other garden plants. Tulip Scarlet Baby, an early flowering kaufmaniana type was planted adjacent to a large established drift of lemon yellow saxifrage. This year timing was perfect as they both came out together in early April, but my plan to add early orange tulips into a drift of blue pulmonaria is another story. I used a dwarf early variety, Monte Orange which never opened up till the end of April while the Pulmonaria was in full flower at the beginning of April. Just can’t win them all. This autumn I must find an earlier tulip.
Tulip Monsella
However my triumph tulip Negrita a deep purple growing 18 inches tall was just perfect mixed amongst a new planting of yellow Doronicums. Both are flowering together this year so I will leave them to naturalise, hoping next year they will still flower at the same time.
Last year I found a highly scented white tulip, Purissima. The scent was very pleasant so after some research I discovered there are quite a few scented tulips so I thought I would try several scented tulips to see if this feature had any prominence.
I bought another batch of Purissima, a fosteriana type frowering in mid April, some William of Orange, Abba and Monte Orange. I cannot say I got one whiff of scent from any of them, unless they need a warm humid atmosphere to give off their perfume. Even my own established Purissima let me down. Maybe it is just too cold this year for exotic scented tulips.
Up at the allotment I have a flower bed next to the main path to brighten up the plot. It has a permanent planting of a few roses, flag iris and Iceland poppies, with bulbs between them. It is
Tulip Aperdoorn
packed with daffodils, crocus, aconites and tulips so I get a continuous show from spring till autumn. The bulbs have been in the ground for many years and I add more whenever I see a wee gap. It is no longer possible to cultivate the soil so I just add some garden compost in autumn and the worms do the rest.

Wee jobs around the garden

As cold north winds continue to blow and frosty nights remain a problem, watch out for growth on early potatoes and earth up to give them some protection. My Casablanca appeared above ground in mid April one month after planting, but now towards the end of April there is still little sign of warm spring days. Similarly, early sown peas such as Kelvedon Wonder is now showing the tips breaking through the soil, so if frost threatens the either cover them with fleece or some soil.

END