Saturday, 25 April 2015

Species tulips

We grow large tulips in pots so that we don't have to look at unsightly foliage for weeks as it dies back, but species tulips have much smaller foliage and look fantastic planted in large groups in the borders. Unlike large tulips, species tulips return each year as good as the last, and multiply if they are happy with their situation.
Tulipa Little Beauty with Muscari

For the very short species tulips such as Little Beauty and Persian Pearl (10 to 12 cm), I recommend planting in drifts of at least 30.
Tulipa Persian Pearl

The slightly taller ones such as Tulip bakeri saxatilis and Whittallii (25 and 30 cm) look equally good planted in smaller groups.
Tulipa bakeri saxatilis

Tulipa Whittallii

All of the tulips I have mentioned will only open in full sunlight, but Turkestanica seems happy in sun or part shade.
Tulipa Turkenstanica

Tulips bulbs will be available to order in summer and should be planted in November or December. There is no need to deadhead species tulips, just let them die back naturally.

Also of interest in the garden at the moment - Magnolia loebneri Leonard Messel. When we moved to this garden one of the first things we did was visit the national collection of magnolias at Caerhays Castle in Cornwall in order to choose the right size and shape. We decided on Leonard Messel, which is a small tree with pale pink star-shaped blooms.
Magnolia Leonard Messel

Our current to-do list

Sow vegetable seeds - We direct sow our vegetable seeds into large half oak barrels. I add fresh compost and food, sprinkle the seeds, cover with a thin layer of compost, then create a dome of twigs over the top to prevent them from being eaten by birds, in particular our chickens! We sow carrots, parsnips and beetroot, and these pots produce enough to keep us picking vegetables all winter.
A half barrel sown with parsnip seed and protected with dogwood stems

Parsnips and carrots harvested in February

I will be sowing tomato and courgette seeds in the greenhouse, ready to plant out in large plastic pots after the risk of frosts has passed.

Top dressing pots - we grow many plants in large pots on the patio including grapes, pears and wisteria. Every year I remove the top layer of compost, add slow release feed and top-up with fresh compost. It is my least favourite job, but it makes the plants much happier. 

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