FLOWERS FOR THE SPRING
Autumn is a great time to look ahead to next year and make plans for the spring flowering displays. Bulbs play a massive role in spring displays from snowdrops and crocus to tulips and daffodils and numerous other wee bulbs with massive impact.
In tubs, baskets, troughs and borders we can plant
wallflower, primroses, polyanthus, pansies and myosotis to provide the main
show but these are greatly enhanced by planting bulbs in between the
With wallflower the tall Triumph, Darwin Hybrid, single early and Fosteriana
tulips are the perfect match and come in a huge range of colours. We all have
our favourites and some have been with us for many years such as Red Emperor
(also known as Mme Lefebre) an early scarlet to be followed a bit later by Apeldoorn
another strong red, and its partner Golden Apeldoorn. To add variety try some
of the bicolours in the Rembrant tulip range and Happy Generation is a
brilliant white with red markings. Purissima is a brilliant white and Purple
Crystal a deep burgundy purple. Polyanthus, pansies and Myosotis are all better
with tulips a bit smaller so use the dwarf double early varieties such as
Showcase (deep purple) Peach Blossom (pink) Sun Lover (yellow with red
markings) and Abba is a great red. The dwarf early tulips are also a perfect
grow in amongst roses, then later when the young rose buds need the
space the tulips are ready to die down.
|Tulip Red Emperor|
|Aconites pushing through the snow|
I like to plant up a hanging basket for spring flowers, but use pansies under planted with crocus. I usually keep them in my cold greenhouse over winter as this gives them a bit of shelter and they then come into flower a bit earlier, but keep an eye out for greenfly and leaf spot disease and spray if necessary. Pansies need regular dead heading to keep them in flower, but you can save these seed pods and sow them in late summer to provide fresh plants for the next year.
Snowdrops are always the first flowers of the New Year and with our mild winters and a sheltered location some varieties start to
flower in December. A drift of these close to a window is essential to
raise spirits with knowledge that winter is on its way out. Even when we get a
layer of snow they are tough enough to rise above the snow and open up their
flowers. Then in February it is the turn of the aconites to flower. These grow
and spread very easily from seed gathered and scattered wherever you want to
see them flourish, so you can create large drifts and as it is a time of year
when most other plants are still dormant they will not bother other plants.
|Doronicum Little Leo with tulip Abba|
Crocus follow the aconites and again they give
a great display when planted up in large drifts. They are perfect amongst
most deciduous trees and shrubs. They will spread very slowly so I always buy a
few new bulbs every year and it is easy to find a space that needs brightening
Daffodils also give their best display when mass planted in borders, lawns and even in gravel paths under a wall, provided you excavate poor soil, replace it with good soil plant the bulbs, and then replace the gravel. This keeps the weeds down and the daffodils will easily grow through the gravel.
As with all flowering bulbs you need to let the leaves die down naturally (at least six weeks after flowering) before you cut back old leaves and tidy up the drifts.
Hyacinths are often used in tubs, troughs and borders, then once the flowers are over they can be planted in borders where they can continue to flower in the years to come. I like to put them in pots around house entrances and on patios where you can appreciate their perfume.
|Impatiens cuttings in water|
Wee jobs to do this week
The summer bedding flowers have had a good run, but now as colder weather replaces the warmsummer days geraniums and Impatiens will soon stop growing and flowering. Now is a good time to propagate them from cuttings to provide stock for overwintering and flowering again next year.
Snap out the top three inches of geranium shoots and put three around the edge of small pots full of well drained compost, water them in and place in a cool greenhouse but out of the sun. Impatiens cuttings are best placed in small jars full of water where they will root after a few weeks. They can then get potted up to flower on a sunny windowsill as a house plant.