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Great Haseley and District Horticultural Society - February 2018

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Despite the advice I frequently give in this column that all bulbs should have been planted before Christmas, I found myself desperately trying to finish planting bulbs in the second week of January.

I topped up Ballerina Tulip in the back courtyard where it provides bright orange to contrast with the lime green of euphorbia bracts, purple of the honesty, bright pink flowers of Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ and yellow of Primroses and Hellebores. I can see this from my kitchen sink so it is worth the effort.

The other bulbs I planted (possibly too late for blooming this spring, but we will see) were pheasants eye narcissi and Narcissus actaea which flowers up to a month earlier than the former. Both are Old highly scented varieties.

In order to plant these bulbs I had to continue cutting back all the old plant growth which has become sodden with winter frosts and rain. I am trying to leave things which still look reasonable and may be beneficial to birds and other wild life for the remaining winter period. Ideally most of the growth would be left, but I can’t keep up with the garden jobs in the spring if I don’t start now. However, there is the side effect of bare earth being revealed which will lead to weed growth appearing in warmer periods; it is swings and roundabouts. Hopefully, there will be germination of wanted seedlings of plants. Usually there will be the appearance of forget-me-not seedlings which I reduce (having already removed most of those germinating last summer) in order to get healthy non crowded plants which will flower well; perhaps they will be less susceptible to mildew which always seems to be a particular problem with them.

I came across another problem with such late planting of bulbs. There has been dieback of a lot of foliage and, when my other half was digging one hole, what had appeared to be an empty space proved to contain a Paeony; we immediate replanted the bits and will hope for the best. I have made a mental note to be better at labelling things; every year I do my best, but always fail at this one.

In the greenhouse I have made a lot of effort to label all the cuttings of tender plants so I have at least a fighting chance of knowing what I have got in the spring. I have just cut back all the tender Salvias which were giving such a wonderful display in the greenhouse. I did this for two reasons, firstly to encourage bushy plants with lots of new growth in the spring and secondly to make more room in the greenhouse as spring approaches and space becomes a problem.

I am so looking forward to spring which seems be very close when I see how fast some things are already growing. It was so lovely to hear birdsong on a mild morning recently along with enjoying the scent of Christmas box and Daphnes in full flower.

Liz Moyses


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