Monday, 26 September 2016



As summer gives way to autumn, now is the time to skip thoughts of winter and start to plan for the spring garden displays. Hopefully notes were taken last spring as the weather was in our favour and bulbs from snowdrops to crocus and then daffodils to tulips had their best show for years. It was relatively dry and warm without being too hot so the spring display lasted for weeks, but as always although we meander around enjoying the colourful flowers, we always find areas for improvement.
In my case some areas of crocus were fantastic, but the drifts can be enlarged into new areas. One large rhododendron got too big so will be removed and replaced with dwarf azaleas and underplanted with crocus. This will give more colour for a few years till eventually the azaleas take over, and the crocus can be shifted to a new home.
John planting a few tulip bulbs
Another area with a palm tree, Cordyline australis reaching for the sky, is now ripe for an under planting of bulbs as the older leaves around the base are withering and will be removed. This palm sits adjacent to a large drift of yellow flowered saxifrage at its best in March, so I will plant a drift of early flowering tulip Scarlet Baby to add a touch of red alongside the yellow saxifrage. As this display has its day it is followed by another show elsewhere as my yellow Doronicums come into flower in April. These were under planted last year with some deep purple Triumph tulips Negrita, but I will add to the show with another triumph tulip Ile de France, a blood red colour. Hopefully they will all flower at the same time; at least that is the plan.
Apeldoorn and Golden Apeldoorn tulips
The tallest tulips with the largest size of flowers have always been the Darwin Hybrids with the red Apeldoorn and yellow Golden Apeldoorn the two most spectacular for a dazzling display. I have a drift of these in several locations, but will buy more to make the drifts larger and create an impressive flower power border.
Tulip Abba
Flower tubs around patios and entrance door ways get planted up with wallflowers, polyanthus and pansies. Good tulips to go with my Golden Monarch wallflower are the Fosteriana type Red Emperor and the pure white Purissima. When warm humid spring weather coincides with the flowering of Purissima the scent is brilliant, but it is not guaranteed. I purchased a whole range of scented tulips last autumn, and not one lived up to the catalogue description, but maybe the weather was to blame; who knows.
For tubs planted up with low growing polyanthus, myosotis or pansies I use crocus in between otherwise the tulips would
Tulip Monsella
compete for space, and some will get a planting of hyacinths for colour and scent that is guaranteed.
Even in these times of mild winters we still like to see the first signs of spring, and this is usually when the snowdrops appear, which with our unpredictable climate can be anytime from late December onwards. Snowdrops are followed on with the aconites flowering in February to March.
Other less prominent bulbs but always very welcome are the blue flowered Anemone blanda and the Chionodoxa, Glory of the Snows. Every garden should find space for these beauties.
Anna picking the last Rhubarb
Drifts of daffodils and narcissus fill the gap between the early bulbs and the tulips so they allow the show to continue without any breaks.
Two colourful favourites with blue flowers are the grape hyacinth and bluebells, but use carefully as they can be very invasive and will want to take over the whole garden.

Wee jobs to do this week

It is still possible to take another picking of rhubarb, but as the growing season is just about over only pick a few leaves so there is plenty of foliage left to build up strength in the crowns for the next year. Rhubarb has now come back into fashion, as health conscious people realise just how healthy this product is. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and proteins. It can be used fresh in pies, stews, crumbles and mixed with saskatoons or blackcurrants for a delicious jam, and any surplus can be frozen for future use.


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