Entries from October 2010 ↓

Common Bulbs for Spring Flowering

Now is the time to plant your spring bulbs (if you have not already done so. Although the optimum time for doing this is September and October. I have found that most bulbs will in fact flower in the spring even if they are planted as late as December, although the flowering may be a bit late. You just have to wait until the ground is not frozen.

The range of spring flowering bulbs is increasing year on year with new varieties of old favourites being introduced. I have covered a bank in my garden with daffodil bulbs and I do not lift them after they have flowered. I do cut the flower heads off and leave the foliage until six weeks after flowering before I cut it back. (If you can tolerate it you can just leave them – not really recommended but they will eventually disappear). Anyway, the daffodils reliably flower year on year, increasing in number. The display is quite spectacular and, because I have more than one variety, it lasts a long time. Eventually, they will become over-crowded and will need digging up and replanting. You know this because they produce loads of leaves and very few flowers. Of course, if you want to, you can lift them every year when the foliage has died back and replant in the autumn.

Some bulbs like to be lifted after flowering (tulips come into this catagory). This is because they are vulnerable to rotting in wet soils and to slugs and other creatures eating them. Leave them until the foliage has died down before lifting, then store in cool, dry conditions until the next autumn.  Having said that, you can, if you wish leave them in the ground and risk losing some of them. It is nice though, when they suddenly flower with no input from you. Remember where they are, though, so you don’t put a fork or trowel through the bulbs.

The reason for cutting back dead flowers on bulbs (dead-heading) if so that the plant does not put energy into making seeds but puts its energy into making the bulb larger (and creating more bulbs). You should not cut back (or tie up )the leaves because they will return the goodness into the bulbs once they have finished flowering thus creating a better display next year.If you want to use the ground the bulbs are in or cannot bear to se them scruffy, then you can dig them up and ‘heel them in’ elsewhere. This means pplanting them shallowly so that they are easy to put in and dig up whan finished.

Some bulbs do not tolerate being taken out of the ground for any length of time (notable among these is the snowdrop). So you do need to know what conditions the bulbs require before buying. (Like most plants really!)

Christmas Gifts from Thompson and Morgan

According to T & M. Christmas is on it’s way. (I have not yet given up on summer, but no matter). They have just issued their Christmas catalogue which is full of good ideas for Christmas gifts (or even gifts to yourself most of which are under £20.

Thompson and Morgan are renowned for their seeds, so as you would expect most of thir products are flower or plant related. Because of the financial situation, more then 40 items have been held or reduced in price,one by as much as £42.99. (and it only started at £59.98  so it has been reduced by more than 75%.

Although many of the items offered are tried and rested Christmas related plants (such as the Poinsettia) even some of these have slight twists. For instance, a cyclamen is offered – a very common Christmas plant. However this one is slightly different in that it has white flowers with red edges and centre. It is also presented in a 12 cm pot in a silk  pot cover. This particular variety ‘Victoria’ is arguably the longest flowering cyclamen. Don’t forget that once you have finished with it indoors, you can plant cyclamen outside and they will flourish and give you good displays year after year. In fact that is where all my cyclamen plants come from.

For the person who likes flowers but cannot maintain them, Thompson and Morgan are now offering a range of silk flowers. OI think one of the best of these are the Orchids. Their Pansy Orchid is even scented which makes them even more lifelike. You can buy the orchid scent separately so that it can be renewed periodically.

If you are a plant lover and want to give gifts which are connected to this love, I would recommend a look at the Thompson and Morgan gift range. It has a god range of very interesting plants at reasonable prices.

Extending the season

I was about to empty my hanging baskets with a view to planting for the winter when I realised how well they are looking. Although the Fuchsias have given up (they were never really good – probably due a shortage of water early in their lives) the geraniums (they are really Pelargoniums but everybody refers to the as Geraniums) have produced a great many new leaves and flower buds and I will keep them going until we get our first real frosts which will cut them down. If you like Pelargoniums indoors during the winter (I don’t), then now is the time to transfer them to pots and take them in, or you could take cuttings. These are very easy to strike and even if you don’t want them all, it is worth taking a few for next year’s display.  The

Having realised that the hanging baskets were in the process of rejuvenation, I started carefully looking around at my other flowers to see if they were the only plants which had decided this was the time to flower and found a number of oddities.

Some of my Roses have another flush of flower buds. These will be the third flowers they have borne this year and, as they have used so much energy to do so, I will need to feed them well next year.

The honeysuckle, which was supposed to be only three tall when I bought it, is now about seven feet tall and is still in full flower. I bought this as a ‘patio plant’ but I am glad I did not use it as such as it is very vigorous and I have already cut it back twice this year to keep it under control. Honeysuckle really does need pruning regularly or it will cover everything in its path and will not flower so well.

I also have a number of Gladioli which have just decided to flower. Gladioli corms should really be lifted during the winter as they are not particularly frost hard. Hoeever, I leave mine in the ground, taking the approach that if they do not survive, I will need to replace them. Even though the winter was very severe, some of them have still survived but as I said, they have only now started to flower. I don’t know whether this is because of the drought or because the bulbs are planted particularly deeply. I rather suspect the former.

Now is the time to really clean up your garden. The more debris and weeds you leave around, the more habitats you are keeping for pests and diseases. Clear up dead leaves and spend annuals and compost them uinless they show signs of disease when they shoukd be burned. You shoukd never put plants with large tap roots or plants (or other material) which is diseased on your compost heap as they may well not rot and  you will be spreading the problem around when you spread your compost. The same applies to plants like bindweed, ground elder and ivy. The compost heap will probably not kill the rots and you will have new problems in different places if you try to compost them. Burn them or otherwise dispose of them.