Tag Archives: winter containers

Better late than never

Tulips planted

This weekend I finally got around to emptying out my summer containers in the garden and planting up my winter displays. I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite this late, but this year’s wettest autumn I can remember has called a halt to most gardening activities since the end of September. I’ve had other engagements on the rare dry weekend days we’ve had, but even they have been few and far between – and of course, there’s so little daylight at this time of year. To really make the most of it, you have to put all your other household chores on hold, and get outside as soon as you can! I usually resist going out to “play” in the garden until I’ve done my less appealing household tasks, knowing I’ll get carried away and not want to come back inside. But if I’m to get anything done at this time of year, I have to resist the lure of the duster and head out first thing – how sad….

I’ve had this year’s tulip selections since September: Flaming Flag and Peach Blossom from a 20% off day at my local garden centre, and Copper Image, Ridgedale and Louvre Orange ordered mail order from Sarah Raven, who always has a fantastic range of new and exciting tulips.

A friend then ordered more in a late sale at the end of October and asked me to share half the Sarah Raven Pewter Collection, so of course, I couldn’t resist that either – there are always plenty of pots to fill in Spring. This collection includes the sombre Continental, exotic two-tone Slawa and peach-hued Salmon Van Eijk and Salmon Jimmy. I’ve planted them all in one container near the front door, and am looking forward to a fabulous show; as long as they all flower at the same time. I’ve been disappointed in the past when collections don’t flower together, so you don’t get maximum effect – but here’s hoping.

Pewter collection

I also added last year’s narcissus and crocuses, plus some bog-standard “fill-a-bag for a £1” daffodils from the garden centre and more Ruby Giant crocuses to fill the gaps. Topped off with pansies in raspberry shades and Pink Giant wallflowers – there should be more seed-grown wallflowers at the allotment, but they went in late and have been terribly slow to take off because of the damp weather. When I last looked, there weren’t many, but I’ll retrieve what I can when I next go down.

I’ve still got to plant out last year’s tulips in the new cutting garden at the allotment, where I’ve plenty of space around the dahlias. As long as I do it at some point in December, there should still be chance for them to grow and give me tulips to pick in April. Tulips are always fine planted well into December anyway – my aunt used to buy hers at bargain basement prices in the January sales and plant out in the early New Year, with no ill effects!

I’m relieved to have finally got my containers planted anyway – now I can turn my attention to Christmas! Happy Advent 🙂

Tulip barrel near arch with Leo

 

 

Clock-changing time again…

Chrysanths and dahlias autumn 2018

This is always a busy time in the garden, tidying away the faded (or not so faded in some cases!) summer flowers and planting out my containers for winter and spring colour. The begonias and New Guinea impatiens have done brilliantly this year and are still looking colourful, but with the weather having turned decidedly chiller and frost forecast any time, the moment has come to take the plunge. Into the compost they went, and in their place I planted spring bulbs, pansies and wallflowers grown from seed in nursery beds down at the allotment.

This year I bought my tulips on a 20% off day at our local garden centre in Mark Cross: they had an excellent selection and worked out considerably cheaper than the Sarah Raven tulips I usually buy. In the large half-barrels in the back garden, I went for Creme Flag and White Flag in one, and a red and white selection of Carnival de Rio and Escape in the other, both offset with Sunset Purple wallflowers and pansies in berry shades. These were Taylor’s bulbs, marketed as Sherbet Lemons, and Strawberries and Cream respectively: I particularly liked the fact that the packets gave detailed information for each variety and they were packed in separate bags inside the pack.

In the front barrels either side of my rose arch, I went for a purple theme with a tulip mix, again from Taylor’s, called Purple Rain Fusion on one side, and Dancing Dolls (the ever-reliable Doll’s Minuet and its purple namesake, Purple Doll) on the other side. These were planted with pansies in shades of blue and purple, and Giant Pink wallflowers. In the last barrel, near the front door, I planted a tulip mix called Fondant Fancy (Infiniti and Mistress – here’s hoping the individual varieties all flower at the same time, as they are supposed to… Crocuses and daffodils were recycled from last year’s pot, so a literal case of pot luck – I’m sure they’ll be fine!

Having weeded some of the allotment beds so that I could plant my broad bean seeds last weekend, and taken down the tatty sweet pea tripod and gone-to-seed spinach and chard stems, this weekend was the turn of the garden at home for a change. A long to-do list (headed by finishing the containers) included sowing sweet pea seeds – I’ve never tried sowing sweet peas in autumn before, but after miserable spring germination performance in recent years, I figured I had nothing to lose! I’m starting them off indoors on the heated conservatory floor, but once they’ve germinated, they should be able to go out into a cold frame. I also potted on the cuttings I took in late summer: penstemon, cistus, anthemis, salvia, osteospermum and hydrangea. Most (with the exception of the cistus) had good little root systems, so should make nice little plants by spring. I also experimented with taking cuttings from my huge Daphne bholua Jacqueline Postill, after chatting to a local nursery owner last weekend, who had said she couldn’t find one anywhere. Mine grows like a triffid, needing pruning twice a year, so worth a shot. It may well be too late this year, but we shall see…

With the onset of frost around the corner after a bitterly cold and showery day on Sunday, I brought my tender geraniums and tibouchina into the conservatory and put other tender specimens in my grow frame. This in turn meant finally harvesting my chillis from the fading chilli plants in the conservatory to free up space. The chilli plants have been yellowing and dropping their leaves for a few weeks anyway, so now was the time.

Chillis

It may have been too wet and cold to do everything on my list, but a good weekend, all things considered. The clocks may have gone back and there’s an hour less light for gardening in the afternoons, but the hatches are battened: let the weather do its worst!