Tiptoe through the Tulips

The tulips give a dash of colour to a shady and grey corner of the garden.

The mixed Tulip bulbs that I bought from my local Wyevale back in October, and planted in November, have really turned out nice.

Red and lilac tulips on flower.
The mixed Tulips give a nice bright dash of red, white and lilac in an otherwise part-shaded concrete side of my house.

They’re all in the pots that I rescued from my uncle’s house, and despite their relatively recent planting, they’ve beaten the Tulip ‘Negrita’ bulbs that have successfully grown and bloomed in my garden since I planted them back in 2012.

I’ll be excavating the Negrita bulbs from my garden when I move in a few weeks, along with a couple of other plants, but all will find themselves in a new garden soon. They’re so richly, deep and luxurious looking, that I really want to take them with me. Maybe the move will do them good – perhaps Tulips appreciate a bit of fresh soil?

Tulip 'Negrita' in bloom.
A previous bloom from Tulip ‘Negrita’.

For now though, this mixed display of tulips brings a dash of bright colour in a semi-shady concreted area near my side door – I see them as I leave and return to my house, and they remind me that Spring is well in business, and Summer is heading straight for us.

Happy gardening,


Tulips in the wind

The Tulips are in bloom, the seeds are sown, and the snails are marauding.

I’ve been delayed this year as I’ve been busy doing a ton of other things instead, but I’ve set some seeds and they now start their merry crusade.

I’ve just set the seeds for a few of the plants I want to grow this year. There’s no ‘new faces’ this time.

Before I go into detail, I’ve had a quick look around my garden to see what’s going on this week. The Tulip ‘Negrita’ bulbs are all flowering, and the Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ and Forsythia are all teetering on the edge of opening their yellow flowers.  This is a welcome blast of colour in the garden, where the only other colours are green, silver (the latter from the Cineraria that’s still going strong from 2 years ago!).

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tulip ‘Negrita’
Broom 'Cytisus Scoparius' is on the verge of blooming.
Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ is on the verge of blooming.

I’ve sown some more French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ as they have never failed to provide me with a nice regular crop of green beans.

Joining them are Sweet Pea ‘Floral Tribute Mixed’. Sweet Peas have been struggling in my garden – partly at the wrath of slugs, snails, and aphids, but mainly at the wrath of wind and sun – those that survive being nibbled through, go on to be blown to bits or fried before they get very far up the canes to flower.

Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mix’ return – the hover fly’s (and sadly caterpillar’s) favourite. I lure the hoverflies in because they eat a vast amount of aphids that attack the roses and the sweet peas.

The final sowing today has been more of the wonderful flat-leaf Parsley ‘Laura’ – which aside from being very good for you, is also wonderful with scrambled egg (and i eat a lot of eggs).

Parsley 'Laura' - just 20 days old.
Parsley ‘Laura’ – it will be ready in about 20 days.

It took me just a few minutes to sow these into pots, plop them into the propagator on my spare room windowsill, and give them that all important first watering in.

The next bit, is up to fate.

Last year’s Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ are ready to be planted out, having survived wind, constant rain, and a marauding wheelie bin.

I’ve decided that the slug and snail ‘meet and greet’ sessions need to begin now, as the Hollyhock ‘Single Mixed’ that I bought the other week, has already sustained heavy damage, and I haven’t planted it out yet. I thought it’s hairy stems might exclude it from the slug and snails’ menu… but it seems they found a way to get to the leaves by scaling nearby pots. I’ve moved it away from them, as I don’t think they’d jump or parachute in.

Hollyhock Single Mixed - snail battered
Hollyhock ‘Single Mixed’ – snail attacked

In other news, my neighbour has cut back a big piece of a large tree in her garden, and this has really let a lot of light in. I wonder how this will affect the garden? More light, yes, but more wind too?

Spring 2014 has sprung

Spring has arrived, and so has the time to choose what’s going to be grown in the garden in 2014.

It’s that time again – where I need to pick the plants for 2014.

Daffodils in Cambridge
Daffodils in Cambridge

I’m perhaps a little behind, in comparison to previous years, but with what has been quite a catastrophic (weather wise) start to the year, what with all the rain and flooding here in England, it’s encouraging to start seeing some bright sunshine.

The Crocuses came and went with little display. The Tulip ‘Negrita’ are now reaching up and I look forward to see their crimson blooms emerge. The Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ are also making progress.

Despite the sunshine, it’s still cold. Last night it reached low enough to give me a chilly start at -2C and a frozen windscreen.

Still, the rest of the day did bring sunshine, and whilst in Cambridge I managed to take the snap above of some Daffodils.

Spring is here. Now, where did I put those seeds….

The tulips begin to bloom and the propagator is full of new life

Last year’s Tulip bulbs are now coming into flower, and the seedlings are thriving in the propagator.

I came home in the sunshine earlier this week to a crimson welcome, and the green shoots of new life in the propagator.

The Tulip ‘Negrita’ bulbs that I planted last year have overwintered and spent the last few weeks throwing lush, waxy-looking, green leaves and stems skywards. Now I have been rewarded with their beautiful blooms.

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tulip ‘Negrita’ on flower.

There were about 10 bulbs and they seem to all be present and happy..

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tip-toe through the tulips (nepeta and a nettle) with me.

However, I also stumbled across a terrible thing, and it comes as somewhat of an absent-mindedness confession, of which I’m not really happy with myself about – it looks like i might have forgotten to plant ANY of the beautiful cream and green lacy Tulip ‘Madonna’ bulbs. I found bag of them on my bench. There was a bit of a hole in the bag – so i *might* have planted a few, but there’s no sign of them yet.

As for the bulbs in the bag – they looked quite dried up, but i’ve planted them out anyway and now they have two chances. They’ll be massively behind for this year though – which makes me annoyed with myself.

Ending on a happier note…

The seeds that I sowed at the beginning of the month are doing pretty well. Both Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ seeds are now sturdy seedlings, there are 5 Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings, and 1.1 of the Sweet Pea ‘Candy Cane’ seeds have germinated.

The Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings are doing well in the propagator.

Add to this, the Parsley ‘Laura’ (a delicious flat-leaf variety that’s great with mushrooms,  scrambled egg, or as a salad leaf) is thriving.

With the sunshine out, it finally feels like summer is lurking just off the horizon somewhere.

Crocuses and Tulips usher in the warmer weather

Making the most of a sunny February day, I have ventured into the garden to check on the new bulbs and see which plants survived the -11C weather.

The Crocus and Tulip bulbs that I planted in Autumn 2012 are making great progress in the garden.

Today has seemed like the first time in a long long time that it hasn’t been so bitterly cold, snowy, icy, or rainy, that everyone has been forced to stay indoors and peer longingly outside at their garden.

In this last week, I have been able to have a quick look at its progress, but today has been sunny and dry enough to actually go and explore properly.

The yellow Crocus ‘Golden Bunch are ahead of the purple Crocus ‘Giant Ruby that I planted back in Autumn 2011, and are poised to open up and provide that essential early food source for bees.

Crocus 'Golden Bunch' on flower.
My Crocus ‘Golden Bunch’ flowers emerge.

Joining them are two types of Tulips (also planted last Autumn) – Tulip ‘Negrita (a deep crimson red), and Tulip ‘Madonna (a later flower white flower with green edges).

Tulip 'Negrita' and Tulip 'Madonna'
Tulip ‘Negrita’ and Tulip ‘Madonna’
Bulbs for 2013
The bulbs were planted in Autumn 2012.

Also, I have amazed myself at having actually seen that for the first time in this garden – the Strawberry plants have survived a winter. Despite the -11C temperatures and being buried under snow, they’ve held on, including the new plants that I raised from the runners. Fingers crossed they can hold on for a bit longer and eventually provide the tasty fruits that they managed last year.

Is your garden now waking up too? Did you lose much in the cold weather? How well are your bulbs doing?

Caterpillars attack and the 2013 garden begins

Caterpillars begin their assault on the Nasturtiums, whilst I look towards bulbs for colour in Spring 2013.

I’ve just spotted a load of caterpillars clinging to my Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mixed’ plants. These plants have grown very vigorously this year, and although they haven’t (yet) had a vast number of flowers, the lush green leaves has obviously attracted the attention of butterflies – the Cabbage White by the looks of it. There’s nothing for it but to pick them off.

Cabbage White caterpillar on a Nasturtium leaf
Just one of many Cabbage White caterpillars on the Nasturtiums.

Looking forward to Spring 2013

The garden centres are now filling up with bulbs with many colourful blooms for your spring garden – so I’ve picked three new types for my garden – joining the Crocus ‘Giant Ruby’ that triumphantly flowered for the first time this spring.

Crocus 'Giant Ruby' in bloom, Spring 2012
The Crocus ‘Giant Ruby’ bulbs in Spring 2012.

First up are more crocuses. This time, rather than purple, I’ve gone for a striking yellow with Crocus ‘Golden Bunch’, which will reach up to 8cm with their yellow blooms in about February or March. These will be valuable to the bees, some of which will be emerging and desperate for food at that time of year.

Next up were tulips. There are no tulips in the garden, so it will be interesting to see how they fare – but these crimson coloured Tulip ‘Negrita’ should provide a blast of colour in April/May.

Joining them will be another variety of tulip – Tulip ‘Madonna’ – which flowers in May with white petals and a slight tinge of green.

Three packets of bulbs
These Crocuses and Tulips will brighten the garden in the spring.

All three will add much needed colour to the garden at that time of year. I’ll be planting them out in the next few days.