Today I’ve spent time sorting out the winter bedding from the greenhouse which are in need of transplanting into the herbaceous borders.
The Stocks ‘Most scented mix’ and the Polyanthus ‘Crescendo’ have been desperate to be planted, out growing their nursery pots so I cleared areas for them and cut back some of the perennial plants.
Our beds are plagued by Bindweed, this weed is a real pain, left to its own devices, it grows quickly, climbing up the nearest plant and choking it.
I try not to use much spray any more, but this time of the year (when not cold and icy) and spring is perfect to dig it out. Even the smallest piece left in will regenerate. I actually find it quite therapeutic and collect as many pieces as I can.
In between planting my plugs, now garden readies, I have put some more Alliums using my trusty Wolf Garten bulb planter.
It’s so easy to use, my general rule of thumb with planted bulbs is, whatever the size of the bulb, the hole needs to be double that size. The bulb planter has measurements on the side. Simply turn the planter into the soil with a twist, lift out the core of soil held inside the planter, then place the bulb in the hole, roots down! and then replace the core by gently squeezing the top.
The Phlomis russeliana, (Turkish sage) I leave in the borders and cut back in the spring, as the old seed heads look great with a dusting on frost and gives the birds somewhere to perch. The foliage is lovely too.
After going on my walk of the garden, firstly I could smell my favourite winter flowering plant, Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, it’s a real beauty, it flowers on bare stems and gives that sweet fragrance as you walk past. It is a must for any garden in my opinion, adds height to borders and winter interest.
The Fatsia japonica also was in flower, attracting any little insects that may be around. Its glossy dark green leaves really are something at this time of year, stunning!
Anyway, back to getting outside while the sun is shining and it’s relatively warm!
I have a friend who asked me what bulbs are suitable to grow in glass bowls. I was ready to tell her that it was craziness and of course bulbs need soil to grow in… until I did a bit of research and saw that it was true! Certain bulbs can be grown in a glass bowl or carafe with water in.
Excited by the idea of growing bulbs indoors, rather than having to wait impatiently until spring, I got to work chatting to more experienced gardeners and reading a heap of forums. So my attempt began…
The best bulbs to try this with I’ve found are Hyacinths. T&M do a few different mixtures which are ideal for this type of cultivation. I personally prefer a mixture of colours so would recommend the ‘T&M Mix’ variety.
Whereas others might prefer the rarer, more gothic vibes of the ‘Midnight Mystic’
Either way, perfect for my trial. It’s a brilliant way to conquer not having a large garden, or a garden at all! You just need 3 things; a bulb, glass bowl or carafe and water.
I keep saying glass, but it’s not necessary, it’s just easier when you can see the water level. Checking the water level is crucial as you don’t want the bulb to sit in the water. This can cause the bulb to rot. If you’re using a bowl it would be a good idea to place some pebbles or stones along the bottom and carefully sit the bulbs on top.
You can actually buy hyacinth glasses too which are used for this exact purpose.
Step 1. Fill up the glass to a level just below where the bulb would sit.
Step 2. Rest your bulb on top carefully.
Step 3. Place in a cool, dark place for around 2 weeks.
Step 4. When the roots start to reach into the water, and the shoot is around 5cm in height, transfer to a sunny windowsill to continue growth.
Step 5. Enjoy the amazing fragrance and beauty of your hyacinth indoors!
As a novice gardener I’m slowly building up my experience and trialling new ideas regularly. Not all of it goes to plan, so I’ll see how this one turns out in a month’s time. Let me know if you have tried it before and works well/ doesn’t work so well – I’d love to know!
2014 is all about big planting schemes, perennials doubling up as annuals and falling in love with shrubs again. Here are our top gardening trends…
Begonia ‘Lotto Mixed’
Lots of gardeners are starting to get wise with their planting schemes and choosing plants that give you “more bud for your buck”! Not only are these plants better value than some other choices, but they always cover more ground in the garden. Why grow a few, shy bedding plants when you can grow lovely, big, lush specimens that will act as a natural weed suppressant?
Some examples are huge Begonia ‘Lotto Mixed’, with giant leaves like water-lily pads and lovely big, clear flowers, twice the size of traditional begonias. Sunpatiens is also one to look out for – a mildew-free Busy Lizzie, which is 3 times the size of usual Busy Lizzies in plant size, root system AND flower size!
Penstemon ‘Wedding Bells’ Mixed
Thompson & Morgan has also started a bit of a trend in using perennials as bedding. Penstemon ‘Wedding Bells’ Mixed is a perfect example – traditionally known as a cottage garden plant, penstemons actually make an excellent substitute for antirrhinums, they’re free of rust, extra long flowering and available in almost every colour you can think of! Coreopsis and gaillardia also make brilliant ‘double annuals’ with superb drought resistance, tolerating long, hot summers and surviving the coldest of winters too.
Tulip ‘Everlasting’ Mixed
Bulbs that last for years
An occasional complaint with bulbs is they don’t come back reliably each year. With this in mind we had a good hard look and came up with some ‘perennial bulbs’ – specific mixes of tough varieties that come back as reliably as any border perennial. Tulip ‘Everlasting Mixed’ is the perfect example, as is the ultra colourful lily ‘Forever Mixed’. Each of these can last more than 10 years in the ground, unlike many other varieties!
Philadelphus or Mock Orange
Shrubs are making a comeback
For many years, shrubs were seen as the tired old relatives of the border, but now they’re experiencing a revival. They’re so reliable and almost create the backbone of your border, supporting the perennials and annuals that you choose to grow alongside them. Even those shrubs which are seen as ‘parks and gardens shrubbery’ specimens are now being used in gardens – think hebe, philadelphus (for its sticky orange scented blooms) and the colourful, shimmering patchwork of euonymus.