Sunday, 24 April 2016



The cool spring weather has been a bonus for spring flowers coming out a lot later than normal, but lasting a long time. We have had the snowdrops and aconites, then the crocus took over but now it is the turn of the narcissi and daffodils, though all the flowering bulbs are overlapping each other with some colder areas having their snowdrops still in flower in April.
Daffodil Westward
My daffodil season usually starts with February Gold, but a bit later this year in early April. This is followed on with the large yellow trumpets of King Alfred and Golden Harvest and the white Mount Hood. These are all scented like most narcissi though some have very pronounced scent such as the Cheerfulness group as well as the smaller flowered Jonquils. Daffodils have been around for a very long time and have been very popular with plant breeders so there are hundreds of varieties to choose from with new ones appearing every year.
Daffodils play a very important role in brightening up towns and villages as it was the custom to mass plant them in parks and verges in more prosperous times in the past before cut backs were created. Dundee has a wealth of spring colour from drifts of daffodils all over the town, and as new developments take place I hope the impact of this flower will continue to hold its place.
Narcissus Cheerfulness
They also brighten up our gardens letting us know that spring is here, and if you can spare some from the garden they make a great scented cut flower for the house. They are also very showy when grown in pots and tubs. They respond best when kept in a cool spot (against a north facing wall) after planting in autumn for a few months. This will help the roots to grow well ahead of the rest of the bulb so the plant flowers earlier in spring. When flowers are finished slowly dry off the bulbs and replant them somewhere else in the garden as they will come up again the following year.
This is a good time to note what is flowering, which colours you prefer and what empty spaces can do with planting next autumn. Plan ahead now so you can make sure you get your preferred bulbs while stocks last. There will also be some new varieties to try out.
New shrub borders always have a plenty of bare soil for several years as the shrubs slowly take up the space and this provides an ideal opportunity for bulb planting. If the shrubs are deciduous then the daffodils and narcissus can be a permanent feature and the leaves can die down and dry off as the shrub foliage grows in summer.
Field of daffodils
Daffodils make a greater impact if planted in large drifts where they can naturalise and increase as time goes by. Allow about six inches apart when planting in drifts. After flowering, the plant foliage remains green for a couple of months depending on weather. They will go yellow and dry off quicker in periods of dry warm weather. Do not be in a hurry to remove the foliage as this is what builds up the bulb for flowering the next year, but once the leaves have been removed disturb the soil surface to fill in any holes left by the dying leaves as this helps to deter the narcissus fly maggots from burrowing down into the soil to infect the dormant bulbs.

Wee jobs around the garden

Warmer days have started to arrive and young tomato plants are filling up their pots so they can now be planted out in the greenhouse. You can grow them in large pots, growbags or directly into a well prepared border. Traditionally I always used growbags, but always up for something different, two years ago I planted them out into my greenhouse soil border which I had dug over incorporating good garden compost. I got a great crop so I repeated the idea last year and got an even bigger crop, so I am again going to run with this idea. I will remove a few inches of topsoil and dig in plenty compost before planting out. Time will tell how they perform. I am growing Alicante as my maincrop, Sweet Million as my cherry, Sungold as my yellow tomato and Costoluto Fiorentino as my beafstake tomato.


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