In the autumn of 2021 I purchased new bulbs for pots and replanted some of my older bulbs that I had previously had in containers, allowed to die down in the full sun and then stored in my conservatory for a couple of months – these were mainly narcissus and iris reticulata bulbs. Most of my tulips from previous years were composted as I don’t have space in the garden to plant them.
I thought I would have another attempt at planting species tulips as they are supposed to come back fairly reliably, though the ones I grew in 2017 never really took off let alone reappeared. Wrong place probably. In 2021 I had two varieties planted in my two small barrels which were extremely lovely – Tulip hageri ‘Little Beauty’ and Tulip clusiana ‘Peppermintstick’. Both returned this year though neither lasted for very long.
I also wanted to try anemones again as they have been successful and are also very vibrant.
Ipheion bulbs were bought to replace the ones I transferred to the garden in 2019,
never to be seen again discovered in the Cornish hedge, and I fancied some new Muscari bulbs as these do appear each year in the raised bed.
And of course I just had to order more tulips from Sarah Raven – she might be more expensive, but her tulips bulbs are always very good. Two new collections and only one repeat flower – Ballerina – which I love anyway.
I read somewhere that to get a decent Allium ‘Sensation’ repeat show you should plant them each year for three years, by which time the year one bulbs will be big enough to re-flower and so on and so on. My only problem was knowing where to plant the bulbs so I didn’t dig up what was already there! And it was so wet in the autumn that getting out to plant anything was such a chore that I ended up stuffing them into a container!
I so loved seeing the Dutch irises last May in Somerset that I wanted to try them too. Some bulbs went into the gravel garden and some in containers. Miraculously the bulbs in the gravel came through as did my Snakehead fritillaries and Camassias! I really wasn’t sure they would.
Farmer Gracy – £52
- Tulip sylvestris – species tulips
- Tulip Persian Pearl – species tulips
- Tulip Purple Lady
- Anemone Hollandia
- Anemone St Brigid
- Ipheion Alberto Castillo
- Muscari Night Eyes
- Muscari Mount Hood
The Muscari all flowered well and for a long time. The anemones suffered from the heat in March and I probably should have taken more care watering them, they did recover and those that flowered were beautiful. The species tulips came through, I was surprised at how tall Sylvestris is and how short Persian Pearl. If I had known then I would have planted them the other way round with the smaller tulips at the front. I’ll see how they perform next year as to whether I can be bothered to dig them up. Tulipa ‘Purple Ladies’ have been brilliant beginning flowering in early April and still going strong at the end of the month. Such a lovely shade of purple too with the pinky-blue overtones and a perfect match to the Aubrieta flowering at the same time.
Sarah Raven Tulips – £44
- Easy Wow Tulip Collection – ‘Antraciet’, ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Request’
- Tulip ‘Antraciet’ is a fully double, satin magenta-crimson tulip.
- Tulip ‘Ballerina’ is a beautiful orange with a sweet scent
- Tulip ‘Request’ is the colour of a blood orange, and scented too.
Something quite odd with this collection. This is one of the containers I planted them in – some ‘Ballerina’ appeared, some ‘Antraciet’ appeared, but what are ‘Green Star’ and those yellow tulips doing there? Now it is possible that the ‘Green Star’ are from a couple of years ago that I had saved, but there is no sign of the very beautiful ‘Request’
The yellow tulips were in fact the earliest ones to flower and I got quite a shock. I mean they are rather nice, but not what I expected or wanted. My colour scheme this year was reds, purples and oranges.
‘Antraciet’ is rather lovely, but also rather floppy. I really need to avoid double tulips.
- Dutch Yard Tulip Collection – ‘Bastogne’, ‘Ridgedale’ and ‘Caviar’
- Tulip ‘Bastogne’ is from the classy end of reds – stately, rich, and with a powerful presence
- Tulip ‘Ridgedale’ is sultry, copper over crimson, saturated coloured flowers with beautiful leaves.
- Tulip ‘Caviar’ is an elegant deep purple tulip variety, with blackcurrant staining at the top of the stem.
Three beautiful colours which work well together, except, the sizes. As you can see ‘Bastogne’ is much taller. If I use these bulbs again then I would plant them in separate pots. I must say that ‘Bastogne’ is the most beautiful red. ‘Caviar’ is very similar to my ‘Purple Ladies’.
Thompson & Morgan – £19
- Iris ‘Eyecatcher’
- Dutch Iris ‘Metallic Mixture’
I haven’t got any photos of these yet as they are still to flower. I thought that ‘Eyecatcher’ was an early spring flowering type, but apparently it can flower early to mid-spring. I was about to complain about them, but noticed that some are indeed about to flower.
Hayloft – £47
- Allium Purple Sensation
- Narcissus Pheasant’s Eye
- Muscari Saver Collection – ‘Pink Sunrise’ ‘Latifolium’ ‘Ocean Magic’
The Alliums as I mentioned went into a container and have yet to flower. The same with the Narcissus. I will transplant all of these bulbs into the ground once they have flowered (and I can find room). The Muscari collection was a joy, although ‘Pink Sunrise’ failed to wow me. A bit too pale? I might try and plant this with the pale blue ‘Valerie Finnis’ next year as I think the combination with the latifolium wasn’t quite right.
Some older bulbs returned – narcissi and tulips in the garden beds and Allium cameleon in a container.
It has been a wonderful spring garden yet again, thanks to all the containers. Many of the Narcissi and Daffodils from previous years came back, as did crocuses and cyclamen, a few snowdrops and winter aconites and some dwarf irises. Total cost this year was £162 which might seem expensive, but I will have had over two months of continual flowers so just under £3 a day. I think it has been value for money and apart from the tulips many of these will flower again next year.
Beautiful! I’d definitely say that was money well spent. I’m glad I’m not the only one who suffers from the random tulip factor. However hard I try to stick to a colour scheme, something will pop up unexpectedly to disrupt it. Just for once my alliums are obligingly starting to open just as the tulips go over, but many of my irises are missing in action!
I try to have some kind of colour scheme going on with the tulips, which is why I choose SR collections as they are usually excellent. I must say that the yellow ones have flowered the longest, but have no idea what they are! Alliums are just beginning to bud here (older ones) and my Dutch irises are also in bud, but I am still concerned about those Iris ‘Eyecatcher’
Such glorious colours and varieties Jude ! Well worth £3 a day 😉 for a Spring sensation like that I.m guessing you must keep a very organised Gardening Journal ! The Malvern Spring Show is happening from today and it looks set for a fine dew days . I think it’s going to be very busy this year .
I used to have an organised journal, now I have lots of notes in lots of notebooks! Are you going to the show? I find things like that too crowded.
Lots of notes in lots of notebooks sounds good to me who is a bit of a ‘new’ notebook collector ! I visited the show years ago Jude, but it can be quite a crush, folk some with no thought of others feet and shins dashing around with mini collapsible wheelbarrows laden with their haul of trembling flowers in pots ! Apart from that .. we’ve just arrived in Scotland for a couple of weeks .. and hoping we’ll just miss the midge season 🤞
Oh enjoy Scotland. Lots of photo and painting opportunities there. Which part?
Thank you Jude .. we’ve lots of Paynes Grey in our palettes Lol We’ve a week on the Isle of Mull and a week in Ardnamurchan at Sanna Bay . Looking forward to it greatly 🙂
That’s an impressive display, Jude. I have some quite fetching weeds bursting forth, but probably not worth a photo. 🙂
Best wishes, Pete. x
Your plantations are beautiful. I did more last year and enjoyed having the flowers nearby on the days I would not have been going further into the garden. It is difficult to know where to put the bulbs after they have been long enough in pots. Amelia
What a vision your garden must be in real life! It’s so beautiful on the screen.
Thank you Anabel. It’s quite small, but keeps me busy.
British gardens always amaze me. The amount of preparation, patient waiting, scrupulous maintenance… it is an art. 👏🏻
This was such a wonderfully comprehensive round-up, Jude, and a great reference point for future years, for us as well as or you – thank you for taking the time to write it, especially as it must have taken you ages. Apologies for my late comments – I still have an issue trying to comment if I use my phone or tablet as WordPress wants me to log in but gives no place to do it. It may stem from changing my email password as the address is linked to WordPress too
I get that a lot on my phone too, even though I know I am logged in to my site. I can comment via notifications, but not direct on the post.
It’s a minor frustration in the larger scheme of things, I suppose…
I think you’ve had a marvellous ‘return on investment’ if you’ve had two months of these lovely varied flowers for the amount you paid. Not only can you look at the flowers, but you have the gardener’s joy of seeing the plants develop.
And now the joy of dead heading and waiting for the leaves to die down! But the beauty hasn’t stopped as the Dutch irises and alliums are beginning to flower. 🎶
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