“ A bulb is an underground vertical shoot that has modified leaves (or thickened leaf bases) that is used as food storage organs by a dormant plant. A bulb's leaf bases generally do not support leaves, but contain food reserves to enable the plant to survive adverse conditions. The leaf bases may overlap and surround the center of the bulb as with lilies, or may completely surround the inner regions of the bulb, as with the onion. A modified stem forms the base of the bulb, and plant growth occurs from this basal plate. Roots emerge from the underside of the base, and new stems and leaves from the upper side. „
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I love gardening and always have, when I moved to England the best thing was where I had only lived in flats before, I finally had a small patch of green to call my own! In order to get that luscious and lush look to the patch of weeds that had been purchased I chose to do a number of things. I could have spent a fortune buying wonderful tall specimens of plants that would normally take 5 years to grow for that instant impact of colour. Moneywise gardening on a budget precluded this from happening so I had to resort to cuttings from friends and relatives and hope that one day they would become this big, purchasing various publications that offered "free" this and that or to try seeds and bulbs. Although I didn't get that instant wow factor and I had to wait quite a bit it was well worth the wait. Bulbs are quite literally the saviour of the garden especially for those on a budget. Yes you have to wait for them to sprout and show their blousy faces through however it is well worth the wait. A packet of ten daffodils for example can be bought for a pound or sometimes less. They are easy to plant - it is usually best to put a handful of sand or grit into the hole for the base of the bulb to sit in case it rots. They can fill all sorts of gaps in your garden but best of all they can cover almost the entire year with something that can grow. Bulbs provide amazing colours and designs. I am forever amazed by the parrot style tulips - a bit pricier than most say for about £2.50 for five of them - but a small indulgence as you don't need many to produce a stunning display. Crocus are divine and at the front of the border are often the first to show their little faces in the depths of February. Gladioli are the stunners in summer and yes Dame Edna Everage endorses them but again, a few scattered in amongst the shrubs provide a fabulous display - Daaaaaaaarlings. Bulbs rarely fail me although you may get about 10% that just cannot be bothered to try and fight through the soil crust in the spring but a good average. You can make your supplies go further as well given that many such as snowdrops and muscari develop in clumps which you can break apart to provide you with more and more plants. If you do not wish to go to all that digging trouble, grow them in pots which you can then add in-between the border plants. Once they have stopped flowering, remove, all to dry and then replace with something else that has flowered. They don't mind pots so would suiot a balcony or courtyard garden as well. I salute the bulb as the ultimate gardener's friend! Now, just need to decide if I go for the red, orange, white or dark purple tulips. And then of course there are the daffodils and narcissi..........
I am one of those people who just can't make their garden grow anything more exotic that dandelions, buttercups, thistles, ground ivy and nettles. Some people may call this an untidy garden but I call it a 'wildlife garden'. (After all, it's the only wildlife I get these days). Then, last year, I was given a bag of what looked like onions of all sizes to put into my garden. First of all I discovered that these were not onions and certainly not recommended for lunch. They were an assortment of hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, crocuses (or is it croci?) and snowdrops. I was advised to pot the hyacinths and put the others into the garden and just leave them. November last year brought purple and white hyacinths in the pots that I put on my kitchen window sill. They looked beautiful but I can't stand the strong smell. It actually makes me feel sickly, (ungrateful wretch that I am.) My sister and my mother both have birthdays in November, so guess where the hyacinths went. (Ungrateful and tight with my money, I hear you say.) In January this year lots of tiny snowdrops peeped out of the ground and I must admit that these gave me a real thrill. I had planted them in little groups, about an inch down and they grew. I have daffodils in bud so it looks as though there will be produce those amazing golden trumpets before very long. The tulips are coming along nicely too. Spring bulbs can really give your garden a lift and cheer things up and even if you only have pots on a balcony, or a window sill, it's worth planting bulbs. They are very simple to grow and even a hopeless gardener like myself can succeed. If you are considering selling a property in the Spring (you'll have to wait until next year now!) bulbs are a cheap and easy way to make your garden look good. As they say on 'House Doctor' you have to have 'kerb appeal'. Around September time, cut down any weeds with a strimmer, tidy up the garden and plant your bulbs in groups. They look better clustered together. By Spring time you will have a fabulous looking garden and great 'kerb appeal', for very little work.
It is no secret on here that I love my onions! I grow fruit and vegetables, and use the fruit for jam, and the vegetables, for....well whatever you use vegetables, for! However, this op is about the uneatable onion. The bulbs that will eventually grow into Daffodils and narcissi. When you hear the word daffodil, you (or at least I did) immediately think of the yellow-trumpeted plant that grows at around this time each year, and can be found in gardens, parks and hedgerows all over the place. Strictly speaking, the daffodil is just one member of the Narcissi family, of which there are numerous members. Daffodils and Narcissi herald the return of spring. From February onwards, they can be seen, brightening up an otherwise colourless landscape. Just a few at first, and then almost overnight a complete blanket of them, swaying in the wind, and gracing many a windowsill. This year, my front garden, which is not very large, is an absolute blaze of colour, and it all comes from daffodils and Narcissi. Many people remark on it, because you see, we have so many different varieties growing, ranging from purest white, through yellow, to a deep orange colour. So how did we acquire all these different varieties of one species? For several years, we holidayed on the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. Scilly enjoys a balmy climate, and rarely sees a frost. Consequently, plants flower much earlier than they do on the Mainland. Many of the very early daffs and narcissi found in our shops will have been flown over from the islands, and much of the industry in the islands is based on the flower growing. Each year we went there, we returned home with at least one net full of either mixed narcissi bulbs or a couple of nets full of a single variety. Bulbs in the island can be bought very cheaply. The usual way of selling them is to place nets full of bulbs on a barrow outside the farm gate, with a notice about vari eties and prices, and a slot for the money at the back of the barrow! You help yourself, and drop your money in the slot! In the autumn, we would plant the bulbs, usually in clumps, and from then on, they take care of themselves. In simplistic terms, bulbs multiply by creating baby bulbs from existing bulbs. The following year, the baby bulbs flower alongside the parent bulbs, and then reproduce babies of their own. You CAN dig the bulbs up, separate them, and replant them singly later in the year, but we simply leave them in the ground and let nature do the rest. The result is astounding. This about the sixth year now, since we planted the first batch of bulbs, and the display of different varieties, sizes and colours has to be seen to be believed. Our first flower opened in the last week of January, and we have some coming up that will not be flowering for another few weeks yet. So we have had a constant supply of flowers for months rather than weeks. At the moment, the early varieties are dying off, and those which flower later are just coming into their own. Looking into my garden, I can count at least nine different varieties, all blooming at the same time. We have the usual yellow daffs,and a variety that is exactly the same as a common daffodil, but pure white. I have white ones with orange trumpets. There are three kinds of multi-headed flowers. There is a double-headed variety that is a rich creamy colour, and there is one variety that has a pink tinge. All the different varieties have different names, including Avalanche, Pink Lady and Soleil d'Or. With so many different hues, they really do bring a touch of sunshine every time we step outside the front door. I now find, as we either walk out, or go for a ride in the car, I notice the flowers in gardens much more than I used to. I look to see if there are any unusual varieties of common plants, and make a note if there are any that really c atch my eye. So next time you look at a "host of golden daffodils" remember, they don't only come in plain old yellow. There is much more to the daffodil family than meets the eye!
Here is one I think everyone should try- Canna- this is a wonderful plant that just requires sun and water- the hotter, the wetter, the better! The only downfall to this plant is you need to dig up the bulbs at the end of the season. They multiply like CRAZY. I sell all my extras! This plant gets very tall (up to 6 ft.) and has nice sized flowers late in the season. It gives a little tropical look to wherever you put it!
The Allium is a member of the onion family. Yuk, I hear you say. How can an onion be any good apart from being fried with sausages. Well you're in for a big surprise with these. These bulbs are hardy, easy to grow and come up year after year in a variety of sizes and colours. There is the large Gigantium which reaches 3-5 feet to varieties under 1 foot. They are spring, summer and autumn bulbs and form clumps with flowerheads that dry well. The flowers consist of many small star shaped flowers which form large globe shapes and most of them are pink, lilac or white with a yellow one called Allium moly. The most impressive ones are the tall varieies such as globemaster, Christophii or aflatunense but there are types for all sizes of garden and they can be grown in containers. The leaves should be allowed to die back after flowering to provide energy for the following year. Contact with the bulbs may irritate the skin so care should be taken. All in all they are a very impressive bulb.
Welcome to Gardener’s Question Time. I’ve never had a request before. Not a polite one, anyway. So when a respected contributor – who ought, I suppose , to remain anonymous – asked me, by way of a comment on my "Birch" opinion, to write on this subject, I should have been chuffed. I say, should have been. Actually, I’ve been knocked right off my eggs here. You see, it’s quite easy to appear reasonably knowledgeable, when I choose the topics, and take no questions from the floor. Have you ever watched some of these gardening programmes, where members of the public bring in plants (usually desperately sick ones!), and ask the advice of the collected “experts”? Yes? Then you’ll know that gardeners run second only to politicians when it comes to answering a question without answering it. “What’s causing these mouldy patches on my Mother-in-Law’s Tongue?” Then will follow a lengthy, and probably entertaining, monologue on the best growing conditions for said plant, how to propagate it, when to re-pot it. Then a digression into other house plants for shady places. Followed by a few Latin names. Then maybe a few unpronounceable pests and diseases. Mightily impressive. And only later, possibly after you’ve gone to bed, does the disturbing realisation hit you. You still have no idea what’s causing the mouldy bits on your Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. As a landscape gardener, I do trees and shrubs. I do patios and paving. I do waterfalls and rockeries. I even dabble in woodland management and conservation. I don’t really do . . . (Well, I can’t put it off any longer. I thought I could maybe waffle my way through this without ever mentioning what it was about. But I guess somebody would notice. And a barrow load of NU’s would do my Dooyoo cr ed no favours at all. So. ) . . . .Freesias. If I break all the rules now, by writing on something I know nothing about, blame frui . .er . . the Forementioned Contributor (henceforth referred to as FC, for the sake of both brevity and anonymity). I posted this under “Bulbs”. I doubt if Freesias merit a topic all on their own. And I know that strictly speaking, they are not bulbs but corms. But bulbs, corms, tubers – they tend all to be popularly known as bulbs, and I think we should leave it at that, and not get too technical. Freesias are best known, and best treated, as flowers for a cool greenhouse or conservatory. They are classed as half-hardy perennials, and will only overwinter successfully outdoors in your borders if you really are in the mildest part of the country. Don’t ask me to define that. Gardening as I do in the . erm . . “bracing” climate of North East Scotland, I can but dream of the concept of “mildest part”. I’d be interested to hear of anyone’s success with year-round outdoor freesias. The natural flowering period of the freesia is late winter and early spring, but you can readily buy specially prepared corms for summer flowering, and you will find these less demanding to grow. Plant untreated corms in late summer/autumn for early flowering, and treated ones in early spring for summer flowering. Either way, plant the corms in individual small pots, in a mix of two parts potting compost to one part sharp sand or grit. The grit improves the drainage, as freesias dislike being too wet. If you are growing in a greenhouse, it must be frost free. A windowsill will do, but too much heat is as bad as not enough, and ideally the temperature should not be above 13C. Avoid full sun, too, which is a point to consider in a conservatory especially. I would also cover the surface of the compost with a thin layer of sharp sand or gr it, as I have found them susceptible to neck or stem rot, and the grit keeps the surface drier, and reduces this risk. (Okay, I confess. I lied. I have grown them. Both from corms and from seed. But not often!) Now you’re wondering why I say, plant them individually in small pots? Why not all in a big bowl? The answer to that is control. You cannot control exactly when they will flower. They will not all flower together. So wait until the flower buds appear, select a few at the same stage, then repot them together in a larger container. And when your friends say “Wow! I can never get mine to flower all at the same time!”, give a quiet, self-satisfied smirk, but divulge our little secret to no-one. The early-flowering ones will have to remain indoors, of course, but you can bring them in to any room of your choosing, because once they have begun to bloom, temperature becomes less important. They’ve started, so they’ll finish. And you must have them close at hand, to benefit from the heady scent. Summer flowering freesias can go in an outdoor container, and add wonderful scent and colour to the patio. You can even treat then as bedding plants, and plant them into the border. But remember to take them in before the colder nights come along. Start feeding when the flower buds begin to show, with any high potash fertiliser. Tomato food is as good as any – use it for all your flowering plants. Keep feeding for a wee while after the flowers fade, because the foliage is then fattening up the bulb (sorry, corm) for next season. When the leaves begin to die back, gradually reduce watering, then stop altogether. The corms can be lifted, dried off (naturally, not with too much heat), and stored in a cool, dry place until planting time comes round again. Freesias can be grown from seed, but I don’t recommend this unless you’re really keen and don’t mind a few disappointmen ts. My results have been, shall we say, mixed. Damping off of the seedlings is a constant problem. Temperature requirements are pretty crucial, too. And colours don’t come true from seed. Stick with the corms. Freesias, as you may have gathered, are a bit fussy anyway, so don’t make it harder for yourself than necessary. Yes, they are a bit of work. But for colour, and especially scent, they are hard to beat. But of course, it being the 11th of February as I write, I can’t help but think that some could appear magically from the florist for you in a couple of days. That would be so much easier! Excuse me while I wipe the perspiration off the keyboard. Trees I can write about off the top of my head. This has been a very good excercise for me. I even had to check one or two facts in my Big Boys Book of Gardening. And now I wonder if this was a test. Did the FC set me a challenge on a subject I knew nothing about, deliberately? Will the next request be about mouldy bits on Mother-in-Law’s Tongues? (Don’t even think about it!) Let it not be said Aspen didn’t pick up the gauntlet :-) Phew!
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hill, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Excuse me for stealing the lines from Wordsworth, but how can you better describe the beauty of daffodils? An annual joy to behold is the spring display of daffodils currently poking their heads up all over the country. I checked this morning, mine are coming along great. My home-town has the most fantastic display of Daffodils each year on the grass verges along the dual carriageways, which should give you an idea of how easy they are to grow. ~~~~ General ~~~~ Daffodil, Latin name Narcissus, are a beautiful bulb grown plant available in many varieties. Bulbs should be planted in autumn and flowers will arrive in early spring. Daffodils lend themselves to random planting rather than planting in rows. Many varieties of Daffodil will spread by producing more bulbs and flowers each year so it is important not to overcrowd them when you initially plant. ~~~~ Care ~~~~ Dafodils are said to do best in ordinary soil which does not hold to much water, otherwise the bulbs may rot. I live in an area of clay soil which becomes waterlogged in winter and I have not had any problems with my Daffodils. After flowering the foliage should be left to die back naturally before being cut. Next year your bulbs will flower again. I think that it may be OK to cut back the foliage before it dies, locally all our grass verges are planted with Daffodil bulbs and they are mowed back long before the foliage dies with no apparent harm to the bulbs. ~~~~ Cut Flowers ~~~~ I never cut my Daffodils in the garden. I buy cut flowers instead, by March you will be able to buy 2 bunches of daffodils for a pound, hardly worth sacrificing the ones in your garden is it. When you buy cut Daffodils, buy the ones which are still in bud as they are not a long lasting flower and open ones will die soon. Daffodils bleed a sap when you cut the stems, this can slow down their water intake so it is important to make an angled cut on the stems before placing them in water. For extra longevity recut the stems every 4 to 5 days to maximise their water intake. Enjoy the display of Daffodils soon gracing our "green and pleasant land" (lots of quotes today!). Think about filling your own garden with them next year, come autumn the garden centres will be selling the bulbs cheaply and plentifully.
Home makeovers, body makeovers, lifestyle makeovers – they’re all the rage. So what about garden makeovers? It could be you’re not particularly keen on gardening. Or perhaps you’re thinking of selling you’re property as spring approaches. Maybe you just want to keep up with the Joneses. For whatever reason, you can make your garden look a hundred times better at this time of year without too much effort. If you’ve got waist-high weeds, bring them down with a strimmer right now. Don’t wait for the warmer weather to do jobs like that, or the path-clearing or re-treating fences. Tackle the places that matter most, those that are on show – particularly near the front door. If they’re horrible they will depress you and everyone who comes near the house. A small bed on either side of the front door area dug over and planted, even at this time of the year, with winter-flowering pansies, double daisies and polyanthus will be bright, cheerful and pretty. And the chances are that your local garden centre will have reduced the price of those plants by now. If no spring bulbs are putting in an appearance, at the and of next month you can buy pots of narcissus, crocus, hyacinths, or any other spring bulbs being sold in bud or even just in flower. All you have to do is plant them, so that the pot cannot be seen, in the eke-catching beds. Only buy the pots of bulbs where they have been displayed outside the garden centre throughout the day, because they will be reasonably hardened off. Pots, of course, are the solution to everything, even the messiest garden. Pots can be planted for every season and you can even have water feature pots with waterlilies or water hyacinths floating on the surface. The great thing about container gardening is that you can move the containers around to create a kaleidoscope of colour and shape. And if you are on the move, you can take them with you. Colour, form and interest – it’s all available in the darkest of months with just a little effort.