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Although spring flowering bulbs are
traditionally sold in the autumn, we
have had bulbs in the Garden Centre since
the beginning of August, and will probably
continue selling them right through until
mid-November. There is such a range of
bulbs available, all of which flower at slightly
different times, and, as a very general rule,
bulbs will flower in the order in which they
are planted.

First up to flower are the colchicums, or
autumn crocus. They are not actually
related to the crocus, and don’t flower in
the Spring! The only reason I am including
them here is because they are sold with the
first of the bulbs in late July and August, the
flowers appear straight from the bulb and
then the foliage follows in the spring. They
are not for everyone as they are poisonous,
can be untidy and the flowers struggle to
support themselves, but they are very pretty
flowers, ideally planted in rough grassland.

Of the ‘big four’ crocus are next up to flower,
we can often picture them flowering with a
covering of snow in early spring. The purple/
yellow/pink flowers tend to flower just after
the snowdrops and before tulips, crocus are
not too fussy about soil types and can beplanted into the ground or into containers.
Anything ‘yellow’ growing on the roadside
in March or April, will be recognised by us
all as a daffodil, but actually could be a
narcissus. All daffodils are narcissi, but not
all narcissi are daffodils; considering that
‘daffodils’ have often been voted the nations
favourite flower, often beating the rose,
they are a very complex range of plants.

Heights can vary from 7cm (3”) to 60cm
(2’), the flowers range from white through
pale yellow, deep yellow, orange and even
red. Nearly all varieties apart from the
tazetta range are fully hardy and will flower
and grow in all weathers; this tazetta range
includes varieties such as paper white and
soleil d’or, which are the scented varieties
we often have in the house for Christmas.

Tulips have a greater range of colours,
a much wider flowering period and have
created more historical interest around the
world than probably any other plant. Most
tulips have single flowers, but ‘broken’
varieties have been hugely popular; these
are varieties that often have second or third
colours appearing as streaks, feathers or
splashes,. Interestingly these have created
unbelievably high prices in Victorian times
but they are simply caused by viruses
causing a mutation in the flower. Don’t get
too excited if you find one in your garden,
they are not as popular as they once were!

We probably know hyacinths best as a
houseplant, often planted in a basket or
shallow bowl and ‘forced’ to flower early in
time for Christmas. However, as an outdoor
bulb, hyacinths also have a lot of merit.

They are neat, have a wide range of colours,
a long flowering period and, of course, a
lovely sweet smell. Forcing is a technique
usually applied to early and relatively small
flowering bulbs, such as hyacinths, crocus and the
tazetta narcissi. Using a pot or bowl with a layer of
moist bulb compost at the bottom, place the bulbs
close but not touching, gently firm compost around
the bulbs leaving the tips of the bulbs just out of
the compost and below the top of your container,
water them in, but not too much, the compost must
not become ‘soggy’. The container should now be
placed into a cold but frost-free dark position. This
cold spell should last for 8-14 weeks depending
upon variety; it is essential to keep them cool,
warmth at this stage will lead to failure. When
the shoots are 2-5cm long, the plants should be
brought into a cool room indoors; moving them to
a lighter warmer spot after 3-5 days, the foliage
will begin to appear and in a couple of weeks the
flower buds should develop. When there is a slight
colouring to these buds, move them to a bright (but
not direct sun), warmer spot, keeping the compost
moist and a constant temperature of 15-18°C, you
will then swiftly get a colourful display. In order
to get hyacinths flowering for Christmas, you need
to begin forcing them in the first three weeks of
September, using ‘prepared’ hyacinths brought
from the Garden Centre, smaller garden hyacinths
have not been prepared by the grower in order to
 respond to forcing.

 

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NN15 5QA

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September & October Gardens

September & October Gardens