And so, dear reader, on to the business of planting bulbs for our delectation next year. For best results, it’s all about contemplation, location, preparation. A random scheme? Now, where would be best for that? But, then again, surely tulips look better in a more formal arrangement? Perhaps in the cleared beds behind the greenhouse.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves…..first, our plant ident. for the week:
And good to see that at least one member of Friday Group is paying close attention.
This is a spreading, deciduous shrub, familiar at this time of year due to its vivid, small red berries and regular, herringbone-style branches. Its small, glossy green leaves turn orange and red in the autumn months, before dropping. Birds love the berries and broadcast the seed around gardens, resulting in plentiful seedlings. It is, in fact, a bit too successful for its own good, and has now been placed on the Schedule 9 list as “an invasive non-native species”. However, provided it is kept under control, it is a useful shrub providing year-round interest; in spring, for instance, it is covered with small pink-tinged white flowers which are a magnet for bees. Drought-resistant, low maintenance and good as ground cover, it is particularly useful on banks and slopes. If grown against a sunny wall, it will grow upwards to about 2 metres.
Jasminum officinale affine “Fiona Sunrise”
A beautiful, rampant climber which bears scented white flowers over the whole summer. The stem and leaves are rather architectural, and the large leaves transition from vibrant yellow to orange/gold in the autumn Attractive to bees, it is an excellent choice for growing up pergolas or fences. Best grown in sunny, sheltered positions
Very much basking in its celebrity status as a “super fruit”, (it’s full of antioxidants), the blueberry needs an acid soil to grow successfully. Acid soils are those with a pH level below 7.0 and, according to the R.H.S., blueberries need a pH of 5.5 or lower to thrive. (You can measure the pH level of soil in the garden with a soil testing kit.) Blueberry plants respond well to being cosseted in leaf mould. If you have alkaline soil, they can be grown successfully in pots (use ericaceous compost), and should be fed with a liquid fertiliser for lime-hating plants. They should ideally be watered with rainwater, as tap water will raise the soil’s pH level. Some varieties are self-fertile, but others require a different cultivar to be planted nearby for pollination. A lovely, easy plant whose leaves seem to catch fire and glow in the autumn. Oh, and delicious fruit, of course!
Three trees to look out for, especially at this time of year:
Otherwise known as the maidenhair tree, it is sometimes referred to as a “living fossil” because it is one of the world’s oldest living tree species. Native to China, it has apparently been found in fossils dating back over 270 million years. “Biloba” means “divided into two lobes” (easily visible in the above photo); over the centuries, the ginkgo’s leaves have been highly prized for their medicinal properties. In the autumn they turn a glorious butter yellow before falling. The trees are “dioecious” – which means that the male and female reproductive organs are on separate trees. So for pollination, (by the wind), both a male and a female tree are required. They can grow to 40 metres in height, but smaller varieties are available and can be grown in pots.
“Tai-haku” means “big, white flowers”. Known as the Japanese great white cherry, this sensational, deciduous tree revels in pure white blossom in the spring and provides glorious colour in the autumn. The specimen at Garden House stands in the top garden and has been there for 18 years; Bridge rates it highly. Prefers full sun and reasonably fertile, well drained soil. A.G.M. (Award of Garden Merit). Between 4 to 8 metres tall x 8 metres plus in width.
Malus “Golden Hornet”
A beautiful tree for a small garden. This crab apple has lovely white spring blossom, and goes on to produce delightful clusters of small yellow crab apples in the autumn, which last for a long time on the tree. A nicely shaped, small, self-fertile tree, it can tolerate a range of soil types.
Jobs for the week:
Planting bulbs in pots for outside display
The fabulous blue Scilla siberica are going into this one. Note those pots in the background – beautifully top-dressed with horticultural grit. 10/10, ladies.
Plant Hyacinth “Woodstock” around the rhubarb plants
They need to be planted around 10-15cms deep. Their deep magenta/purple blooms will look beautiful alongside the forced rhubarb’s pink stems.
Sweep, tidy and refashion “Little Dixter”
Ensure that all tender perennials have been removed and cuttings taken.
Cut back geranium macrorhizum in beds under arches. Plant alliums in and around the nepeta
Yes! That jacket is exactly the sort of colour we hope to achieve next year with the allium /catmint combo.
Plant chionodoxa bulbs randomly in prepared bed
In position and looking good.
Lay out wallflowers in Lil’s bed ready for (random) planting
Wallflowers are biennials: foliage this year, flowers next year. Plant firmly and deeply then pinch out the top to ensure a bushy (not leggy) plant.
Tulip bulbs will then be thrown over the bed and planted where they land. Here’s a (literally) hot tip: sprinkle chilli flakes over the soil to discourage squirrels from plundering bulbs. That’ll teach the blighters.
Formal planting in the beds near the greenhouse
Wallflowers planted first – about 45 cms apart – and deeply.
Scenes of industry and meticulous planning.
Lay out bulbs ready for planting
Using string ensures straight lines for formal planting arrangements. Plant around 10 cms apart and at least twice the depth of the bulb. Some say it’s better to plant even deeper. If you garden on heavy clay soil, putting a layer of grit into the planting hole helps to prevent the bulbs from rotting.
A beautifully made bed – but telltale signs that someone’s been jumping on it….
Clean tools after use and replace where found
Nice pose. Hang on…. she’s brushing the brush. Dedicated, that one.
Nature’s sunrise and sunset. Autumn bliss.