Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 13th October 2018
It’s a busy time in the garden, preparing it for the winter – or ‘putting it to bed’, as my dad used to say.
Last weekend I made the most of cutting old herbaceous growth back by recycling it into a friend’s birthday flowers. I love working with flowers, indoor or out and it is so rewarding to use foliage and less-conventional flowers from your own (or a friend’s) garden for celebratory arrangements. I used wild fuchsias, hypericum berries, mint, rosemary (they smelled as good as they looked), perovskia, hydrangea heads, spent astible flowers, spirarea, verbena bonariensis and even the seed heads of japanese anemones which were lovely and architectural.
I could have included berries and teasels but to be honest didn’t have room. Simply including a few ‘focal’ lilies from the florist just added a bit of ‘gravitas’, as it was a posh do.
Have fun experimenting, and keep a vase of something from your own garden indoors throughout the year. Even shrubby foliage like viburnum tinus and euonymus is effective and you can add a few bought flowers for added colour.
Spring Bulb Moment
It’s bulb planting time! For daffodils, anyway; Monty Don says tulips are best planted in November but to be honest I always think it’s best to strike when you are motivated, so I will be planting them this month without too much risk of rebellion or a visit from the Tulip Police.
If you want to follow Monty, then try to buy your tulip bulbs this month anyway as you will have a much better choice. The spring flowering bulbs will soon be shunted off the garden centre shelves to make way for baubles and tinsel.
I can’t encourage you enough to plant bulbs at this time of year. When they reward you with that much anticipated spring colour, you’ll be so glad that you did.
I love daffodils, especially the underestimated little wild British native daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), which will spread by self-sowing in grass and beneath trees and shrubs. They are the longest lasting, easiest and most successful daff to grow for naturalising but also look great in beds and borders, and of course, containers.
Miniature daffodils like the dwarf Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’ only reach 15cm (6″) in height and are perfect for containerising or smaller planting areas, like rockeries.
And now there are so many new(ish) varieties to choose from too, like the eye-catching and rare pink coloured daffodil with fluffy double flowers, Narcissus Replete. The rather extraordinary looking Narcissus ‘Apricot Whirl’ is a split corona daffodil (offering a two-coloured flower) resulting in large flowers that top the upright stems. The flowers are made up of a creamy peach outer ring, and a flattened cup with ruffled peach coloured segments.
The ‘Petticote Daffodils’ don’t look like daffodils at all, but the hardy bulbous perennial, which grows 10-15cm tall with large tubular, trumpets, will add interest to your garden or containers. It is available in several colours including yellow and white.
And of course don’t forget the old faithfuls that do their job wonderfully, the large trumpet favourites and the heavenly scented narcissus too.
Another of my favourite bulbs for naturalising is the much under-rated Camassia quamash. It is a stunning vivid blue, with tall, bold flowers that will naturalise cheerfully in grass and is even happy in moist ground. Described as ‘one of the most tolerant and long-lived bulbs you can grow’, it is ideal for naturalising in a flower studded meadow (see pic). It also makes a fabulous cut flower.
Camassia cusickii and Camasia leichtlinii are also great to provide lofty interest in a border, reaching up to 2’6”; Camassia leichtlinii has a semi double creamy white cultivar, ‘Semiplena’.
I am always reminded of a friend’s tale at this time of year. He had been planting bulbs when his five year old son came out and asked him what he was doing. “Planting bulbs,” he replied, “so we’ll have lots of colour later on.”
Later that evening his son was sitting next to the freshly planted bulb site watching the ground intently. When asked what he was doing, he answered, “Waiting for the bulbs to light up.”