Adding colour to beds and borders by planting flowerbulbs

This is another assignment I completed online recently through Learning With Experts. My course tutor is the horticulturalist Andy McIndoe and after submitting each assignment he gives his experienced critique of my ideas and useful advice and suggestions.

This assignment consists of three parts, which really stretched the mind and made research interesting. I could have written lots but have tried to keep it concise.

PART 1 – I am lucky to have a good choice of situations so have chosen my patio (container), my allotment (space plus lots of light) and daughter and SiL’s garden variety of flower beds, where I am their unpaid gardener!

(A) Patio container: I am aware Lesson 3 is Beds and Borders but as my personal gardening space is a patio, I am including this. On looking through catalogues and websites I found a beautiful early flowering Tulip called ‘Slawa’. It has intense purple petals, which are also variously described by producers as deep crimson or deep maroon. It has a copper-orange edge to the petals which fade to a pinkish orange as it matures. I have chosen the deep plum coloured Hyacinth ‘Woodstock’ which will flower first from March to April. It grows to a height of 25cms and the Slawa should appear in April. I hope they will both be in flower at the same time for a short while before the hyacinth dies down.

(B) Allotment: After caretaking an overgrown and neglected plot since April, I am really excited to have my very own well loved plot in December. The present owner has kindly agreed I can start to plant spring bulbs. As an announcement of “I’m here!” I intend to plant lots of bright yellow traditional daffodils called ‘Dutch Master’ which will start to flower in March. The follow on will be an assortment of Alliums, ‘Purple Sensation’, ‘Gladiator’, and personally I don’t think you can have Alliums without ‘Christophii’. These will flower from May to June, again as with (A) I hope the alliums will start to flower before the daffodils die down. I think the combination of yellow and purple will look wonderful.

(C) Daughter’s Garden: This is quite a large garden with a variety of beds facing different directions, sunny/partial shade/shade. In one way this is great but in another it can be restricting. I have chosen to plant English Bluebells in the bottom corner, which is shady. They will flower in April, if the squirrels haven’t dug them up, I had better buy some more chilli flakes! I know that lesson 4 is about naturalisation so I will learn more when I read it. My second bulb I fell in love with a few years ago after seeing them grow in the meadow at Parham, West Sussex, is Camassia. I have chosen ‘Quamash’ a vivid blue and will plant them in the partially shaded part of the border just before the shady corner with the bluebells.

For my spring flowering shrub I would plant a Hamamellis. I particularly like ‘intermedia Diane’. Whilst it is quite expensive, I love the unusual bright red/orange flowers, which appear in February, I think for impact it’s well worth the money. To make a striking combination, I would add two Tulip varieties. ‘Request’ and ‘Arjuna’. I found these in the Sarah Raven catalogue called the Blood Orange Collection. The bronze/orange petals should look great against the red Hamamellis.

PART 3 – I’m back to patio planting with this and have chosen a small evergreen Photinia shrub called ‘Little Red Robin’ which is ideal for a container, growing to a height of 90cms. After choosing this shrub I then hit a problem knowing what to plant with it and even resorted to a colour wheel. The combination of the green leaves and new growth in spring of red leaves, meant I struggled with a complimentary colour so have gone for white. I’m not a great fan of Muscari, not sure why, probably because it gets messy, but I will make an exception and chose a white Muscari ‘Album’ followed by a pure white double flowered Daffodil ‘Obdam’ from J Parker. My only concern is that if it’s a new shrub the Photinia may be small and swamped by the 40cms daffodils.

I have not been asked to promote Learning with Experts, but have independently decided to post my assignment for my followers to read. Andy McIndoe suggested a number of other interesting varieties which I have made a note of. His final comment was: “Some great ideas and hope you’ve enjoyed researching this one. Best wishes Andy “

Six on Saturday – 10/11/2018

Thank goodness for memes, especially The Propagator’s Blog and his Six on Saturday. At the moment as I’m between allotments (take over new one end of December) I’m struggling to find much to blog about. With a box full of spring bulbs waiting the wings I am desperate to plant, my patio pots are loathe to throw in the towel and admit they’ve had enough. To be fair, the weather here has still been fairly warm for this time of the year, although we are experiencing heavy showers mixed with sunshine and strong winds at the moment.

I have planted up a coupled my patio posts and covered them with netting to prevent the squirrels from digging around. I do, however, still have a large number of tulip bags to put in but I know I have until December so all is not lost yet.

This morning I did my ‘gardener duties’ in daughter and SiL’s garden. Again there are still plants flowering happily. The Gerbera is flowering as are the Osteospermum. Although mildewy and flopping badly, the Cafe au Lait Dahlia is still going strong. I am wondering if I can leave it in situ as long as I mulch the top to protect from frost. Also I’ll have to watch it carefully in the spring to make sure slugs and snails don’t chop off fresh shoots at the pass. Usually I start tubers off in pots each year and only plant out when it is looking well established.

The Agapanthus is also still flowering! You might notice that some of the surrounding plants have died already. I am hoping they have died down, and will appear next year and they are not just dead. Whoops, I’ve just noticed some weeds in this photo 🤦‍♀️.

I love wallflowers, especially the bare rooted bunches which I think are a bargain. In mid-October I bought 3 bunches and find that although sold as 10 plants per bunch, you generally get more than that. Of course, there are always a few that don’t make it, generally the tiny ones. I planted a whole bed of wallflowers – Sunset Apricot, Sunset Bronze and Sunset Purple interspersed with a large variety of daffodil bulbs. It was a bit of a back breaking job, but will look a fabulous display next spring. I was pleased today to see that only 2 plants look as though they are struggling, but you never know they might just survive the winter.

There is a very large terracotta pot at the end of the garden, which I was asked if I would plant up for a good spring show. Buried deep in the pot, I planted 35 bulbs which are variety of red and white from the local garden centre called The Armistice Collection – A donation from the sale of each Armistice collection bulb pack will be paid to The Royal British Legion. I couldn’t resist buying them. Because it is such a big pot, it needed some height and I found a Photinia ‘Little Red Robin’ and filled in the surround with primulas and red cyclamen.

My sixth is of the gladioli I retrieved from the allotment to dry off. After taking this photo, I cleaned them off, removed the dried leaves and they are now stored in a box in the shed. They were really good this year and fingers crossed they are successful in 2019 on the new allotment.

That’s my 6 for this week. Please peer over the garden fence at other gardens you will find on Six on Saturday.