A GREAT YEAR FOR TULIPS
This spring has been brilliant for tulips. The weather has remained cool with just enough moisture so tulips have flowered for a long time. Flower tubs, beds, borders and other spare land where tulips have been planted have all been a blaze of colour for ages.
Whilst we wander around the garden enjoying this display we must also take the opportunity to assess each variety and make notes so we know what we will be ordering next autumn.
Last autumn I bought in a range of dwarf double early tulips to be planted amongst my main flower bed of mixed polyanthus which are quite low growing so a short stemmed tulip would give a better display. I mixed Abba a red tulip with Double Price, violet purple, Monsella a yellow and Purissima a taller white fosteriana tulip. The mixture worked very well but was let down by the very poor range of colours of my polyanthus. It was definitely not what was shown on the seed packet.
However I got quite a surprise at the fantastic scent from my white Purissima tulips. They had always been sold as scented but I had never really given it much thought. This year it was very strong and quite exotic.
Next autumn I will buy in more scented tulips in a wider range and see how they compare.
I grew a fair bit of Myosotis Blue Ball (Forget me nots) so selected the single early yellow Yokohama the dwarf early pink Peach Blossom and some bright scarlet Greigii Red Reiding Hood which would all go very well against the blue bedding myosotis. The idea worked fairly well, though mildew affected my myosotis and killed out some plants. Fortunately I had some spare pansies to replace them with so there were no gaps.
It is good to change the flower schemes each year so I have bought in some wallflower seed for my main display bed for flowering next spring. These grow quite tall so my tulip selection in autumn will include a range of the taller Darwin Hybrids.
As the spring flowering bedding plants and tulips go over to be replaced with summer flowering geraniums, tuberous begonias, nemesia, petunias and impatiens nothing will be wasted. The best colours of my polyanthus will be lifted and lined out on the allotment so they can grow on for a year then be ready for next years bedding. Other bedding plants will be composted. All tulip and hyacinth bulbs will be lifted carefully and I try to keep them growing a wee bit longer somewhere until they are ready to be dried off. I keep them in a cool outdoor area so they don’t dry out too much. In mid summer they will get cleaned up and the bigger bulbs separated from the smaller bulbils. The bigger bulbs get reused in bedding schemes or planted in some spare piece of ground needing some colour. The bulbils get planted in borders where they will naturalise over the years and form large bold clumps of colour such as at the front of my allotment plot.
I put all my old hyacinths in between clumps of summer flowering herbaceous plants such as flag iris and oriental poppies as they give this border some colour in spring, then die down when the herbaceous plants need the space.
Plant of the week
Cytisus praecox Allgold is the best bright yellow broom. The species praecox is a lemon yellow colour. These brooms are very easy to grow as long as the soil is well drained and the plant gets plenty sunshine. It will grow to about three or four feet tall, and although it is not long lived, only lasting six to ten years it can be propagated by semi ripe cutting towards the end of summer. It is excellent for dry stony banks. It can get a bit straggly in time so better to prune about a third of all shoots after flowering. It grows well amongst drifts of red tulips and the blue grape hyacinths which will all flower together.
Painting of the month
Taybridge from Broughty Ferry is a large acrylic painting on canvas. I will be showing this painting with many others at the Angus Open Studio event at the end of this month.
Artists from all over Angus will be displaying their paintings and crafts in numerous venues and studios. A preview of works by members will be held in Inverquharity Castle from 10th to 20th May with proceeds going to the charities Dyslexia Scotland.
I will then be displaying recent paintings in Old Ladyloan School along the seafront in Arbroath together with other artists from 22 to 26 May 2014, open every day from 10am to 5pm.