Friday 18th March 2022

The third week in March… and the Tulips are beginning to pop!

Here are the magnificent Emperors in all their majestic glory – ‘Exotic’ and ‘Orange’

So, this week, it seemed appropriate to look at a few Tulips in the course of doing the Plant Ident.

Tulipa turkestanica

Guess its country of origin! This is one of the species Tulips and has been awarded an A.G.M. A wonderfully wild-looking flower, with a yellow centre and fragrance too. Can be left in the ground year-on-year and will eventually naturalise and spread. The seedpods are also attractive. Full sun and well-drained soil. Plant in quantity. H. 30 cms.

Tulipa ‘Exotic Emperor’

Semi-double, fragrant white flowers flamed with green are held on strong stems above sword-shaped leaves. It’s a stunner and looks wonderful in a bold planting as a single variety or, alternatively, to make a more dramatic statement, together with a contrasting colour such as yellow or orange. H. 30-40 cms

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

‘Glory of the Snow’. An early-flowering bulb, whose pink, star-shaped blooms fade towards the centre of each flower. Likes a well-drained soil in a sunny or partially shaded position, and naturalises well in lawns. Plant in groups for maximum impact. H. 15 cms

Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’

It’s a Grape Hyacinth, Jim, but not as we know it. This unusual variant is bi-coloured, starting off as a dusky purple, but developing yellow shades as the flowers open. Very free-flowering with a delicious scent – said to be like that of Gardenias. Fully hardy, it needs full sun. When clumps get congested, lift and divide in the autumn. Flowers April – May. Said to be deer and rabbit resistant. H. 10 cms

Jobs for the week

Dead head any bulbs which have finished flowering, but leave the foliage to die back naturally.

Seed sowing

No, it’s not enough to chuck a few seeds in and hope for the best. It’s all about careful preparation, planning and precision.

This will involve measuring

Running a string out to mark a straight line for the seed channel

And sowing seeds carefully and not too thickly. Then you’ll have plenty left over for later sowings to ensure a continuous supply of flowers right through to the end of the growing season. These are seeds of Orlaya grandiflora and will eventually look like this:

Yes, isn’t nature wonderful?

Some seeds are better started off in warmth on a heated mat in the greenhouse.

These pots are being watered in a trug so that they’ll soak up water from below – indelicately known as ‘bottom watering’. This prevents the soil on the top of the pot being swished about (technical term) by a brutal, direct hit from the watering can.

Gently does it

Weeding and pruning

The work continues… some like to explore their gardening through the medium of dance.

Check seedlings and cuttings in pots and cold frames

Those babies need constant attention

Spot if they need a re-pot

Weed the dry bed

Weed mindfully to soak up all the benefits of being outdoors

Tidy up time

These two are setting a good example by cleaning their tools before putting them neatly away in the shed. Just look at the shine on those trowels!

We could definitely get used to this unseasonably warm weather.

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