I am fond of this strange mutant rose, but for some reason this year the flowers aren’t green. I don’t know whether this is further mutant behaviour, or a response to the weather but it still makes a great picking flower and is guaranteed to attract comment if I put it in a vase.
I had hoped to get all my tomatoes planted in the greenhouse before Chelsea, but as only two of the plants have produced flower trusses so far, they are the only ones that are in their final positions. I’ve stood the others in position in their Grow Pots but the actual planting will have to wait until after Chelsea. With Grow Pots you water into the outer ring and feed into the base of the plant – this encourages a far more extensive root system and (hopefully) a larger crop. This year I’m experimenting with planting the tomatoes into the borders rather than in growbags to see how they fare. I haven’t planted them into the border for several years.
It’s been a vintage year for tulips I’ve picked up some useful tips, ideas and new varieties
· Tulip bulbs may contain everything they need to grow and flower but in a dry spring like this one it is essential to water them if they are planted in containers; they will grow taller, stronger and flower for longer
· At Woolbeding garden to ensure the very best of displays, they grow every one of their 2000+ tulips in individual long tom pots and then plant them out when they are growing well – a policy of perfection, but worth emulating on a smaller scale if you have a special display
· I’ve long admired the pale apricot species tulips in the Barn Garden at Great Dixter and finally tracked them down last autumn; they are tulip batalinii ‘Apricot Jewel’ a variety that naturalises well in a sun baked spot; I’ve planted them in shallow troughs and look forward to many happy returns
· I visited the tulip festival at Pashley Manor and talked to the head gardener about how to look after my container grown tulips to get the best chance of them repeat flowering in future years if I plant them in the garden; his advice was to pick off the seedpods immediately after the petals have fallen and to liquid feed for 4-6 weeks
· Bloms Bulbs supply all the bulbs for the Pashley festival where they have a marquee with the tulips in vases and their names so that you can make a note of your favourites and even order them if you are feeling very organised; I couldn’t quite get my head around ordering next year’s tulips while this years are still in full bloom, but I loved Exotic Emperor and will certainly order it quite soon.
· Another tip from the Pashley Manor head gardener was that – contrary to received advice – tulips are best planted as soon as they arrive rather than stored in less than ideal conditions; their 25,000 bulbs are stored in a chiller by Bloms until the gardeners are ready to plant them – a service not available to the rest of us; if they must be stored net bags or open paper bags in a cool, dark, dry place is the best option
I find I have variable success with growing spinach – too early and it sulks, too late and it romps away and runs to seed before I’ve had a decent picking. And the slugs love it, as do greenfly. Anyway…….. this year I sowed early in the greenhouse and then planted outdoors in a large terracotta pot that I covered with a plastic bag over some metal hoops. I tied the bag in place around the rim of the pot to stop it flapping and keep the slugs at bay. Voila! A lovely crop of succulent spinach in unmunched condition.
Bird feeders and insect hotels and nest boxes are generally rather utilitarian or rustic, but the new range from prezzybox.com are positively sculptural and would look great in a contemporary urban setting. Group them together on a wall and they will be as much a work of art as a lure for birds and beneficial insects. They are £24.95 each.