Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Tulip fever

A month to Christmas and I still haven't planted my tulips yet! Timing is not really an issue as tulips prefer to be planted in November so they can escape tulip fire blight, a virus that attacks the bulbs and reduces flowering. Mind you, it was a virus all those centuries ago in Holland that produced fascinating flower colours and shapes on tulips and people all over the world decreed them as a 'must have' plant. Tulips were sold for hundreds of pounds, so sought after at this time. Good job prices have come down in these credit crunch times...

A favourite tulip I plant in client's gardens and recommend to others is 'Ballerina': it has striking orange fragrant flowers in a lovely pointed lily-like shape but, I think, more robust than some of the traditional lily flowering types. Great for containers, too and we've used them at Brocket Hall in several areas. To beat the squirrels and other bulb-eating creatures, plant bulbs deep, around 6 ins. Many people prefer to dig up bulbs after flowering each year and re-plant again in autumn, using the same bulbs and/or new stock. By planting bulbs deep you should get a good display over a few years without having to keep on digging them up each year. Another favourite tulip is the species form acuminata which has fabulous wispy pointed petals. Best planted in drifts or in thick clumps in containers.

Daffodils need a longer growing period but you'll still get some flowers, albeit a little late, if you still have bags lying around un-opened. Hopefully, you've kept them somewhere cool otherwise they may well be beyond redemption!