TIME TO PLAN FOR SPRING FLOWERS
The summer flowers are past their best, so now we look ahead to the spring for our next show of floral colour. Remove old summer bedding plants from borders, tubs and hanging baskets and put them on the compost heap. Remove some of the old compost and check for vine weevil grubs especially around fuchsias and begonias. Top up with some fresh compost and a dressing of fertiliser before planting up with wallflower, myosotis, polyanthus, primroses, pansies or other spring bedding plants. The display will be enhanced if you add some bulbs, but select carefully to match heights and colours. Tulip Apeldoorn, a tall red Darwin Hybrid is perfect with yellow wallflower, but for other low growing spring bedding plants choose from the range of dwarf double early tulips such as Abba, Sun Lover, Monte Orange and Global Desire.
|Tulip Abba with Doronicums|
Tulips can also enhance other garden plants flowering in spring such as the yellow Doronicums which I combine with the purple tulip Negrita as well as the red Abba. My earliest tulip Scarlet Baby, a dwarf red flowering in March is perfect with my yellow ground hugging saxifrage. It might also be the perfect companion for a drift of the early blue pulmonaria.
Some tulips have the strength to stand alone in a drift to naturalise and make a huge impact, coming back into flower year after year. Try some of the Darwin Hybrids like Apeldoorn, Golden Apeldoorn, and
Orange Sun and if you want scent as well try
the Fosteriana types such as the white Purissima. Many other tulips are
described in catalogues as scented, and I have tried most of them, but only
ever detected scent in Purissima. I have some drifts of these tall Darwin
hybrids planted about twenty years ago and they flower every year in a slowly
expanding drift without fail.
|Tulip Scarlet Baby|
|Phlox and red tulips|
When planting up a spring hanging baskets pansies are favourite and often very long lasting well into mid summer. You can combine some crocus with these as they are not tall so work well together just fine.
Tubs and borders near main doors and patios can have some hyacinths planted both for colour and scent. Wallflowers are also important here for the same reasons of colour and spring scents.
Polyanthus and primroses are very popular for tubs but also a favourite for vine weevil attacks so if you suffer from these in your garden, use some of the biological controls, as they are very efficient.
These plants are also perennial so after flowering they can be lifted and lined out somewhere to grow on during the summer months and be ready to reuse the next autumn.
|Narcissus February Gold|
Daffodils are usually planted in borders often underneath deciduous trees and shrubs and bring in the spring from early March onwards. One of the earliest and very reliable is my favourite February Gold, but up north in Scotland it flowers in March. It has been extensively planted by Dundee City Council gardeners along many road side verges including the Lochee Road.
The large trumpet daffodils Golden Harvest, King Alfred and the white Mount Hood will all make a terrific display and repeat the show year after year, providing the narcissus fly leaves them alone.
Nearly all daffodils and narcissus are scented with the Jonquils and Cheerfulness types particularly strong. Always leave foliage on daffodils alone for a minimum of six weeks or longer if the foliage remains green to allow the bulb to go dormant naturally. This helps to build up strength in the dormant bulb to ensure good flowering the following year.
|Picking Baby beet|
Wee jobs to do this week
Beetroot can remain in the ground, over the next few months provided we continue to get mild winters, but it is a good idea to earth them up to give some protection in case of frosts. If normal winters threaten to return, lift them up for storage in boxes with dry soil or sand in a frost free shed or garage. Recent studies on the health benefits of beetroot almost put it in the superfoods category, and you can also use the leaves and stems. Beetroot is high in fibre, folic acid, potassium and manganese and the leaves and stems are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C.
The juice is used by athletes as a health drink.