Need advice on planting Dwarf Tulip bulbs? We’ve compiled our gardening advice in this informative blog guide on planting, arrangement, and aftercare to help make your gardening job easier.
Tulips are one of the most popular Spring bulbs for a reason. Fantastic colours and attractive shapes make them a stunning choice for your garden displays. There are a wide variety of Greigii/Kaufmanniana or dwarf Tulips within our range, from First Price, Little Beauty, Humilis, and Scarlet Baby; all with stunning colourful blooms that would be perfect for any spring border, or even hanging basket, and their spectacular foliage produces year after year whilst requiring minimal care.
Tulips do not need to be planted until October in to December. Plant bulbs in well dug soil about 8-10cm deep and approx. 15cm apart. It is often beneficial to use a little bonemeal or super phosphate mixed in with the soil. Tulips delight during their growth in a sunny location.
In this video tutorial, our resident gardening expert Jeff talks us through how to plant Dwarf Rockery/Botanical Tulips, with great easy to follow advice on how to achieve a terrific spring rockery display.
After the tulips have bloomed and when leaves fade and turn brown, the bulbs can be lifted, dried, cleaned and stored in a cool place until planting time. This allows the bulb to store more food and produce flowers the following year. Tulips should not be grown in the same soil for several years, so replace with fresh soil every other year.
Dahlias are an essential choice for the summer garden. The easy-to-grow tubers will produce a phenomenal display of colour in a range of styles with beautiful dense foliage. Dahlia work perfectly with almost all types of plants, and complement any garden wonderfully regardless of size.
Whether you’re looking to add some vibrancy to your summer, decorate your patio with impressive pot/container displays or grow a ready supply of cut flowers – Dahlias can do it all.
Dahlias are native to Mexico, and the country’s national flower. The Aztecs grew Dahlia tubers as a food crop, and they were widely used there for their nutritional and medicinal properties long before being propagated for their beauty.
It wasn’t until 1789 when the plants were sent to Abbe Antonio José Cavanilles, Director of the Royal Gardens of Madrid, that they got the name we know them by today. Named after the famous 18th Century botanist Anders Dahl, Dahlias were then developed and cultivated to the wide selection of hybrids and varieties we have today – with 42 different species.
Why Choose Dahlias?
They are easy to grow, and suitable for gardeners of all skill levels. They are fast growing by their nature and will flower in the first year and for many years to come (just keep them stored and frost free over the winter).
They are versatile and will tolerate most types of well drained, fertile soil or compost. They can be grown successfully in pots, tubs, window boxes and in borders.
They are one of our favourite summer bulbs because of the many different types/sizes/colours available, which all look slightly different in shape, but are all equal in beauty.
Year after year sees many new exciting new varieties introduced which means once hooked on Dahlias, you will continually be able to find and try something new.
They flower continuously through the summer, right up until the first frost of the autumn.
They look fantastic as cut flowers and are great for lovers of something a little different.
The main types of Dahlias available can be classified into a number of different categories, representing the main characteristics of the flower blooms themselves.
Anemone Flowering – Also known as Powder Puff Dahlias, these beauties produce unique flowers with double feathered central petals resembling a Powder Puff.
Cactus– A favourite for many years, Cactus Dahlias produce fully double pointed petals which turn backwards to create a tubular petal effect. Sometimes referred to as Spiky Dahlias, they are perfect for the border.
Dark Leaf – These Dahlias are a little different in that their foliage is not the usual green colours of most varieties. They create an abundance of flowers through the summer as expected, however the blooms appear on darker (usually purple/black) foliage.
Decorative– The largest range of large, fully double flowers with rounded petals through the summer right up until the first frosts. They produce masses of flowers for cutting purposes.
Dwarf Gallery – A range of smaller, more petite Dahlias which are perfect for the front of the border. They are prolific flowering varieties, look also great planted mixed together in pots on the patio.
Dinner Plate – As the name suggests these are the largest flowers within the range, often up to as much as 25cm in diameter (see illustration below). Try these as cut flowers and be certain to draw attention.
Pompom– Love the unusual, then these are certainly for you. Almost spherical flowers (like balls) appear through the summer. The petals have rounded tips and are curved upwards at the edges. The flower heads are also slightly flattened towards the centre.
All our Dahlias are supplied as top quality dormant tubers which can be planted straight into the place where they are bloom (their final location). Success rate from these dahlia tubers is extremely high and they are a relatively inexpensive way to create a large number of flowers from one tuber.
Dahlia tubers can be planted 10cm deep in fertile well drained soil, outdoors in spring when the frost has disappeared. They prefer to be in a sunny location and spaced at approximately 45cm apart. In areas where there is extreme cold, dig up dahlias and store in a cool peat over the winter. Apply a high potash fertiliser every few weeks in the summer to help growth and they can be dead headed when necessary.
How to grow Dahlia plants in pots or containers
A fantastic way to brighten up your patio is to introduce some Dahlias in pots/containers. The colour range is fantastic, with many unusual bi-colour varieties which will brighten up any space. Simply beautiful to sit back and look at during a warm summer afternoon.
Once your tubers arrive safely in the post, they can be soaked overnight in a bucket of water to soak up as much moisture as possible.
When all signs of frost have passed they are ready to pot up, giving plenty of time to get well established before the summer.
It is recommended to place some pebbles at the bottom of the pots before adding the compost to help with drainage, by ensuring the compost doesn’t block the drainage holes.
Fill in some compost and then add the tuber with the growing tip facing upwards.
Continue to fill in the rest of the compost to firmly hold the tuber, making sure the growing tip at the top is peeping out and is not completely covered. This is now ready to be moved to the patio or garden area, with access to as much sun as possible.
Water well after potting and then keep compost moist but not waterlogged as tubers will rot. You can add a liquid feed weekly during the growing season and provide some protection from slugs as they really love Dahlias.
If growing tall varieties, insert a cane to help with growth and to keep secure.
Little pruning is needed on Dahlias, however you can deadhead as flowers begin to fade.
With the winter months coming to an end and spring on the horizon, you may well look to the garden and start plotting another year of beautiful borders and overflowing hanging baskets.
In recent years, Begonias have soared in popularity for their versatility and reliability. These colourful favourites will solve all your summer garden needs, from hanging baskets and window boxes to borders and pots. With such a shining reputation, its an easy choice to make but you may be wondering which variety is for you.
This week we’ll help you get a head start on that summer planning with our comprehensive guide to Begonias.
Although it has been theorised that Begonias have been around for thousands of years, the plants first got their name in 1690. The renowned botanist Charles Plumier named the plant after his colleague and friend Michael Bégon, a fellow plant collector.
Native to the slopes of the Andes, tuberous Begonia thrived naturally in the cool mountain temperatures and moist shade of the Amazon rainforest. Hundreds of years of propagation and hybridisation has given us the larger, more colourful and diverse Begonia. Nowadays we are spoilt for choice, with everything from giant, double flowering show-stoppers to unusual, fringed favourites.
Double Flowering – Ruffled, double flower heads. Clusters of brightly-coloured, delicate petals create a cheerful rainbow of colour on a bed of attractive green foliage.
Cascading and Splendide– This range includes our cascading, exhibition size cascading and Splendide, which will create a truly graceful display. Trailing double begonias with a graceful, trailing habit, perfect for hanging baskets, large pots on the patio. The Giant Cascading Begonias produce an avalanche of large double blooms which can reach up to 15cm across. Our Splendide variety boasts large, double flowered blooms and a vigorous cascading habit.
Non-Stop – As the name suggests, these beautiful Begonias will keep producing endless flowers throughout summer, making them a premium choice for your garden displays. These summer flowering plants are ideal for pots, bedding, containers and window boxes where the almost endless addition of flowers will be hard to miss.
Fragrant Odorata– A range of premium cascading begonias in elegant shades of pink, red and white with the added bonus of a very pleasant fragrance.
Multiflora– A cheerful selection of low-growing, bold, brightly-coloured flowers with lovely olive green foliage. These lovely Begonias are ideal for front of border or containers where they will flower all summer long.
Superba (Mighty Mini) – Our range of premium upright Superba Begonia, Mighty Mini Begonias are a great addition to the summer garden. This colourful upright favourite produces a dwarf and compact habit, coupled with large sixed flowers that catch the eye easily. Supplied as 4/5cm tubers, unless otherwise indicated, they really will produce a superb display, as the name suggest!
Fimbriata– Large vibrant blooms with serrated edges stand upright on a bed of spades shaped foliage. Give your patios charm throughout summer with their red, pink, yellow, white and orange frilled blooms, also known as Fringed Begonias.
Tubers can even be stored over winter and reused year after year, making the Begonia plant excellent value for money. Preferring half-sun and rich, moist soil with good drainage, we recommend that Begonias are grown indoors first and planted outdoors only when all traces of frost have disappeared.
Growing Begonias from quality tubers helps improve results. We only supply the best grade tubers possible to offer you the best results. They are simple to plant, care for and the high level of results they achieve make them an easy choice when growing Begonias.
Begonia sizes are measured by the diameter of the tuber. The tubers are counted into breathable bags and carefully packed to be delivered to you. Many of our varieties are supplied either as standard size (3/4cm) great for mass planting or exhibition size (5cm+) excellent for large flowering displays. We always state the tuber size so please check the description before ordering.
How to Grow
You can follow some top tips for success with Begonias below, or watch our video series with Jeff for his sage advice on planting cascading Begonias for hanging baskets.
You can start planting Begonia tubers from February onwards. Mix some good top-soil with one-sixth part of manure should form the basis. Once you’ve prepared the soil, add some leaf mould in a mix of 1 part leaf mould to 3 of loam and enough sand to make a fairly porous compost. Soot and bonemeal added to the compost will be appreciated.
As soon as the shoots of the tubers are about 2cm long pot them up in 15cm pots and place them into larger pots as the roots reach the sides of the pot.
Plant in full sun or partial shaded areas. The more access to sun, the more vibrant the colours will be.
You can feed once every two weeks with a high potassium up until the blooms begin to fade.
Make sure they are watered regularly during the summer and that the soil is not allowed to dry out. Begonias love moisture and will use up quite a lot during the hotter spells in the summer.
Lift tubers after flowering has finished and the leaves have begun to turn yellow. Store in a dry, cool (but frost-free) location over the winter. Store in soil that is only a little moist and keep this a little moist over the winter (with irregular watering) to keep the tubers from drying out.
For many people, wildlife is a welcome addition to the garden, bringing a cheerful breath of life and character to your very own backyard.
It is especially vital at this time of year, in the cold frosty months, to keep supporting your local wildlife with the space you have. Taking just a little time out of your day to make some easy changes in your garden can attract a flurry of wildlife and help do your bit for the environment.
Here are seven easy ways to make it happen;
Leave a snack
Food can be scarce for animals during the winter, so this time of year is the perfect time to begin attracting wildlife to your garden. Even something as simple as adding a bird feed or scattering monkey nuts on the lawn can easily attract various wildlife to your garden. A bird table is a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden.
Choose Shrubs for shelter and food
If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.
Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months.
Bees and butterflies will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed. Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!
Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.
Just a little water left out can help out passing critters. Remember if you have a water feature or are near bodies of water, be sure to provide water and shelter for Toads. These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs.
Use an old Tennis Ball
Having a space for a water feature in your garden is a fantastic way to attract wildlife, but in the colder months freezing temperatures can create lethal conditions for your pondlife. A great tip for preventing your water feature from completely freezing over is to float several old tennis balls on the surface.
Critters and bugs appreciate a little homemade shelter. A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants!
Wild gardens and meadows have been popular in recent years for their stylish swathes of summer colour. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).
Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife.
For most roses you can prune in late winter. Take care to remove dead/diseased wood and deadhead faded blooms which can be done with your annual pruning. Cut no more than 5mm above a bud with a clean, sloping cut away from the bud so water cannot gather there. Trace any suckers back to their roots and pull them away.
Bush Roses should be well pruned in mid-March in Southern England and as one proceeds further north this should be deferred at such a rate that in the North of Scotland it is done in the second week of April.
Floribunda Roses are a little tenderer and should be pruned one week later than the above dates.
Hybrid Tea – Newly planted Hybrid Tea Roses should always be pruned back hard in the spring, provided the roots are firmly established, leaving only three or four eyes per stem, generally leaving about 15-25cm in length. Roses are roughly pruned in the nursery to approximately 35-45cm of stem. If left un-pruned they will die back along the stem and perish or produce leggy poor specimens.
Climbing Roses – Do not prune for two years after planting and then only sparsely, removing unrequired growing tips. Weak or dead wood should be removed. Best to prune in autumn.
Standard Roses– Stake well with expandable ties, driving in the stake below the head of the tree. Plant Rose Tree to old soil mark level. Put liberal amounts of planting medium in hole. Prune back well in spring to good bud.
Miniature Roses – These are miniature versions of Hybrid Tea or Floribunda types and should be treated the same allowing for the difference of scale. Miniature Roses are ideal for borders and rockeries or as pot plants, though they should be in the dry atmosphere of the house only for limited periods. Prune hard after planting.
Echinacea are incredibly vibrant coloured cone flowers with giant heads on tall stems. Their bright colours will attract wildlife to your garden, as bees and butterflies love this plant as much as we do. The purpurea varieties are the only Echinacea grown from root stock, producing those thick stems that make them perfect for use as cut flowers. Echinacea are a tough plant, their eye catching colourful blooms that draw so much attention actually love to be ignored, a great hassle free choice for you garden.
The delightful shades of Echinacea purpurea are ideal for a summer border. The cheerful flowers look great mixed in with other plants and bulbs, or can be planted en-masse for a bold splash of colour. They will even do well in pots – plant in a deep container and position where they will get plenty of sunlight.
Echinacea are spectacular in a mixed border – as illustrated above. They partner really well with Rudbeckia varieties, as you can see above, the bright purples look particularly striking against the bright yellow of the Rudbeckia Goldsturm. We’ve highlighted a few more great companion plants in the gallery below.
Echinacea need to be grown in full sun, they won’t thrive at all in shade but will cope with a little. They are tolerant of a wide range of soils as long as it is well drained and they are drought tolerant once established. Deadhead to prolong flowering. You can propagate by division in spring and autumn but they prefer not to be disturbed and can become more bushy in habit but less floriferous.
Jeff demonstrates how to plant border perennials together in this easy to follow video. Rudbeckia and Echinacea complement each other exceptionally and both make excellent summer border plants.
Pinch off spent flowers on a regular basis — or use them as cuttings in flower arrangements — to extend the blooming period. Apply a quality flower fertilizer several times during the gardening season to promote big, beautiful blossoms. Mulch to prevent weeds, conserve moisture and improve aesthetics.
Cut plants to the ground in late winter after flowers have gone to seed.
Congratulations to our competition winners and runners up!
We’ve been thrilled with the quality and quantity of entries this year, and to share that enjoyment we’ve picked a selection of our e-mail entrants in the gallery below. You can also head over to our Facebook page for even more fantastic photography shots.
Thanks again to everyone who entered, and keep checking back for more opportunities to win!
If you held off planting in May, now is the ideal time to clear these plants out of your greenhouse and get your summer bedding and hanging baskets finished. There is minimal chance of frost even this far north so line your baskets, prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil. Ensure you water regularly particularly if the weather is warm and dry.
Hot weather protection
Hot and dry weather can be just as dangerous as the harsh conditions of winter for your plants. Recent dry spells mean watering is more important than ever. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Regular watering of pots and baskets is essential to maximise your garden show this summer. You should also remember to keep your greenhouses cool and prevent scorch with shading and ventilation.
Prepare to tie up tall border perennials with support. Tall varieties such as Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Lupins will need a little help and stakes can help prevent wind damage. You might also like to cut back early-flowering perennials such as Papavers as this will provide fresh foliage and possibly even a second flowering.
Protect fruit trees
Protect the newly developing fruit on your fruit trees from birds. This can be tricky as netting suggested last month for soft fruit, is not a viable option. We recommend using some of those unwanted DVDs or CDs in newspaper supplements by hanging these from your trees on string. The changing reflections of light created in a little breeze should keep birds away.
Keep everything tidy
The warm weather and increased sunshine means that weeds are popping up everywhere and can be an eyesore in your garden. Keep an eye on these particularly during dry spells and it will make your garden look much neater. You should also now be cutting the lawn weekly, pruning many spring flowering shrubs and trimming hedges into shape. For bulbs, allow foliage to die down naturally before cutting back to ground level. Keep any waste for your compost bin!
If you’ve been lucky enough to get some relaxation time in the garden, you may have had furniature such as lounger out on your lawn. Be aware that this could damage grass and cause patches of yellow damaged lawn. This is easily prevented simply by moving your lawn furniture regularly. Keep up trimming your lawn regularly, including the edges, and apply fertiliser for a healthy looking growth.
As more and more people are actively taking an interest in looking after their health and the food that they eat, the UK is rapidly seeing an increase in the use of allotments in urban areas. These little pieces of oasis in built up, often highly populated areas offer a superb way of getting back in touch with nature, growing your own fruit and vegetables and creating an area which allows you relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.Allotments are often allocated to people by their local councils, and one of their key benefits is that they bring people together, allow people to enjoy a shared space and also to share ideas/tips. I love the thought, at the end of the week watching people locally escape to their allotment, getting stuck in and trying to create (and maintain) something wonderful. The maintenance can at times be time consuming and hard work (especially trying to keep on top of those dreaded weeds), but the rewards really can be worth the effort.
What to grow in the allotment this year?
Now summer is almost here, there is still the opportunity to get the allotment into shape and start to transform the area. Don’t worry if the area is small, you
can still grow many varieties of fruit and vegetables in even the smallest of sections.Walking past the allotments near my house recently I stopped and began to chat to a local lady who had made such a lovely, open planned display of her own space. She had Strawberry plants growing in almost perfectly controlled rows, raised beds with Potatoes growing from seed, Blueberry and Blackberry plants growing in containers by a bench, Vegetables on show in garden shed (almost ready to come outside) and she also had a penned in area for her own chickens (seven of them no less).This got me thinking about what would be worth a try this year if you have the space available and here are some top suggestions and tips:
1. Grow some Strawberry Pineberry in multiple rows. Supplied as 7cm pot plants for easy planting, try growing in rows for a successful large crop. Each plant should be space around 40cm apart in a straight line, with around 60-70cm between each row. Strawberry Pineberry is a real novelty, with the look and feel of a white Strawberry but with a smell and taste more closely associated with a pineapple.
2. So if your garden needs a fresh look and feel then why not also make these changes productive by planting your very ownApple Trees. Their striking spring blossoms are a valuable bonus to the allotment, but ultimately it is the crop from this mini fruit orchard that is appealing. Plant your Apple trees in an area with has as much sun as possible, as the more sun they get the healthier the tree will grow. My personal favourite is Apple James Grieve, because of the juicy taste. Grow the varieties you like, that’s the best advice anyone can offer when growing fruit and vegetables.
3.Asparagusare becoming all the rage in Britain and a beautiful vegetable to accompany most dishes. Plant in a trench approx 5-6inches deep with the crowns covered by 2inches of fine soil. As the plants grow, the trench should be filtered gradually and should be level by the autumn. You can choose from three varieties to cover the full season, the early yielding Gijnlim, mid season yielding ‘Herkolim’ and the late season yielding ‘Backlim’.
By growing your own herbs you can easily improve your culinary skills and become more creative. Growing herbs is easy and low maintenance and because you can grow them in containers they can easily be moved around the allotment. Basil ‘Wild Magic’ really caught our eye last summer as a standout new variety to try. Not only is it extremely tasty and heavily scented, but it makes a fantastic ornamental plant with extremely dark green leaves tinged with purple and purple flowers throughout summer.5. Miniature Plum ‘Black Amber’ can be grown in containers or in the ground. Smaller than your average Plum trees, they are ideal for an allotment where space can be at a premium. Growing in pairs will add effective spring blossom in spring and dark-purple thick skinned fruit will pop up in late summer and early autumn. Miniature Plum Trees are a must for lovers of plum trees.
6. Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’ are another unusual twist to a popular soft fruit. Blush white flowers are followed by sweetly flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamentalshrub with all year round interest.
7. Striped Tiger Fig is a reliable cropping dwarf fruit tree that produce unusually striped figs on miniature stems. They love fertile, humus rich soil or if planting up into containers you can use a loam based potting compost.
8. Goji Berry (The Miracle Berry), or Lycium Barbarum, to give it its full name can be introduce because of the incredibly high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants found within each berry produced. A very easy plant to succeed with, they will fruit from their second season onwards with a significantly higher yield year after year. A very popular, pleasant tasting fruit that can be eaten straight of the vine, with an almost herbal scent. Originating in the Himalaya, it can easily be added to breakfast cereal, yoghurts, fruit salads.
Mid-to-late May is the best time to plant out summer bedding plants. Prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil ready for the new bedding. You do need to keep an eye on the long term weather forecast when doing this, as a late strong frost can put pay to your hard work. You can keep plants in the greenhouse until the weather improves and move them out towards the end of the month. Just make sure they’re well watered and the greenhouse is well aired, vented and shaded during the day so that these plants don’t over heat in warm weather. The same rules apply for hanging baskets. You can plant these from April onwards, but until the last sign of frost has passed you may want to protect them in the greenhouse. If you don’t have one, hold off planting until the end of May. Line your basket well and add a fertilizer rich compost soil. There are plenty of varieties to choose from but trailing plants work well for covering the sides of your basket. Water well, add fertilizer weekly and keep any eye out for pests!
You may find you need to clip any hedging and topiary now to keep its shape neat and tidy. The warmer weather will also mean regular mowing of the lawn will be a necessity now and through the summer months. Once a week should be sufficient, keep on top this and your garden will look tidy all summer!
Deal with weeds
As the temperatures rise your prized plants will spring to life, but unfortunately so will any unwanted weeds! Pull up any seedlings and dig out perennial weeds with a fork to try and get rid of any roots. Time and effort spent on these perennial weeds will benefit not only your borders but also your lawn, as May is the ideal time to identify those nasty dandelions and deal with them.
If you have a pond, pond weed is equally important to deal with and should be removed regularly before it becomes too difficult to manage and harmful to pond life. Make sure you leave any weeds by the side of the pond for a good while before removing just in case any pond life is hiding there!May is a great time to begin stocking ponds with fish, just make sure any aquatic plants have established first.
Keep an eye on growth
Many growing plants may need your attention this month, add plenty of feed to keep them happy. Tall perennials may need trellis and support as they start to grow to keep them straight and upright.It is also important to tie up your clematis to control their climbing in the direction you would like them to grow. For rambling roses, try and tie as horizontal as possible as this will restrict the flow of sap and increase side shoots, thus causing more flowers. Spring flowered Montana type clematis need pruning after flowering to keep them tidy.