Tag Archives: bulbs

Plant now for a glorious spring display

Plants bulbs now for a spring display

Plant now for a gorgeous flowering display in spring

Not only does our lovely 2018 Dairy Diary give you 56 fabulous recipes, but it also is packed with interesting articles, such as Blooming Bulbs, which gives lots of tips on flowering bulbs.

And it’s now time to plant for a gorgeous flowering display in spring. There is a myriad of stunning blooms to choose from including crocuses, narcissi, grape hyacinths (my favourite!), tulips, anemones, dog’s tooth violets and lily-of-the-valley.

In general, bulbs don’t take too much effort
to plant but the results can be spectacular,
providing a welcome ‘surprise’ in spring.


Planting spring bulbsIn the ground:
Prepare a hole, or a trench if you’re mass planting, to a depth of two or three times the height of the bulbs (three or four times for tulips – always the odd ones out!). Sit each one on its rough underside, so that the narrow end points upwards (a dip or buds for corms, which are flatter than true bulbs). Space them at least an extra bulb’s width apart. For tubers and rhizomes, it’s fine to lay them sideways. Replace the soil and gently firm down.

In containers:
The RHS recommends three parts John Innes No.2 to one part grit if you plan to leave the bulbs in situ for more than one season. Otherwise, using multi-purpose compost instead of John Innes is fine. Put some broken crocks or stones at the bottom of the pot to aid drainage and plant as before, but not quite so widely spaced. Water regularly.

Planting snowdropsIn grass:
Scatter handfuls of bulbs around the area and plant them where they land, either individually or in groups, replacing soil and grass clumps when you have excavated the hole and popped in the bulbs. To save time and too much hard work, you could invest in a bulb planter, a tool specially designed for the job. Several kinds are available, including ones with long handles. It’s best not to cut the grass until the bulbs’ leaves have died back, several weeks after flowering, so this may dictate where you want to cultivate the natural look.

Squirrels love bulbs!
They seem to be especially fond of crocuses and tulips, so if this is likely to be a problem, try netting the area or spreading some sharp gravel on the surface. Failing that, they are, apparently, not too keen on chilli flakes, so you could try sprinkling some of that around.


Dairy Diary 2018 now available




Spring Begins Today!

Make 2017 a Colourful Year

The herald of spring is the perfect opportunity to plan your garden.

While you’re pondering on seeds, plants and bulbs, have a read through this extract from the 2017 Dairy Diary. It gives some great advice on how to plant for year-round colour.



Gardening for colour

Gardening for Colour

The garden is a naturally colourful place – green grass, brown earth, painted fences and sheds. But it’s the plants and foliage that provide that added zing, and with a little creative planning and judicious planting, they can provide it all year round.  

In poet Thomas Edward Brown’s estimation, ‘a garden is a lovesome thing’ and so it is, and it can be an even lovelier place if you think about what colours you want to see at different times of year. Haphazard planting has a lot going for it because it’s easy and can result in the garden looking beautifully chaotic for part of the year, although it can look a bit dull for the rest of the time. However, much of the pleasure in having a garden lies in deciding how you want it to look, and then watching your

However, much of the pleasure in having a garden lies in deciding how you want it to look, and then watching your masterplan come to life. No need to stick rigidly to the rules of colour theory; taking note of the general ideas can be enough, and experimenting is part of the fun. It’s your garden, after all. You can have a glorious mass of different colours if you like – and, in nature, they never seem to clash – but knowing how to use colour effectively throughout the year can make a big difference.

Whether you want your patch to be bright and cheery or a haven of peace and tranquillity will influence your colour choices. The hot colours – red, orange, yellow – are exciting, stimulating and demand attention; the cool colours – green, blue, purple – are restful, calming and recede into the background. If various sections of the garden are to have different purposes, or moods, the transitions between them are important, too, requiring subtler shades and whites.

Key effects 

  • The colour value of the plants you are intending to grow is important, too, i.e. how bright, pale or dark the flowers and foliage are likely to be, bearing in mind this is likely to change during the year.
  •  A small area of light colour in a sea of much darker vegetation creates a powerful effect.
  •  Repetition is an old trick that helps to avoid the garden looking too much of a riot. If you love red, for example, have more than one area of it.
  •  Pale colours reflect light and brighten up a shady corner.
  •  Bright colours can look wonderful and vibrant in full sun, while pastel colours will look washed out.
  •  Cool and pale colours bring a sense of depth; bright colours appear to be closer. Planted at the end of a border, pale colours make it look longer while bright colours foreshorten it.
  •  Silvery grey foliage lightens the area and cools down any nearby hot colours.

Growing plans

When choosing your plants, first and foremost, select those suited to the location and soil type of your garden, and plan to position them in the ideal spot for their individual requirements of light and shade. Otherwise, think about containers, not too big so you have the option of moving them. If you are experimenting with colours, it may be that you will want to move some plants to try other combinations; but shrubs, once established, are mostly better not moved, so be sure to plant them where you want them to be.

Shrubs and perennials are lower maintenance than annuals, and since perennials benefit from being divided every few years, they could be a good bet, augmented by bulbs and, in summer, by annuals. These are often flamboyantly colourful. Remember to deadhead to prolong flowering. Some perennials give very good value, such as Phlomis russeliana, which flowers from late spring to early autumn and has attractive seedheads in winter, dianthus with its pink flowers and silver-grey foliage, and penstemon, which flowers to first frosts.

Also, when planning a colourful border or bed, remember to choose plants that will flower at the same time in order to achieve the desired effect. As well as colour and flowering season, think about height and contrasts in shape. Tall, upright plants, such as irises, daylilies and foxgloves, mix well with those that have wide flowerheads, such as sedum and yarrow, and spherical flowerheads, such as alliums.

Foliage is an integral part of any garden display, whether used as background or as a focus in its own right. Shrubs such as cotinus and Fatsia japonica have eye-catchingly colourful foliage. Others, including berberis, viburnum and holly, have red or orange berries in autumn and flowers in spring.

Among all the possibilities, don’t forget roses. A fragrant shrub, climber or floribunda that blooms continuously throughout the summer can do wonders for your garden.

Year-round colour

Spring brings sunny yellows and greens, fresh pinks and blues and white morphing into the vivid mix of summer and the warm burnt oranges and deep reds of autumn. Come winter, if you think of the garden as being a colour-free zone, think again. Flowers, berries and dramatic foliage can lift it from the gloom.


Shrubs: azaleas, California lilac, euphorbia, forsythia

Perennials: aubrieta, elephant’s ears, forget-me-nots, polyanthus

Bulbs: crocuses, daffodils, grape hyacinths, tulips, anemones


Shrubs: rock roses, fuchsia, potentilla, mock orange, buddleia

Perennials: delphiniums, peonies, crocosmias, geraniums

Bulbs: alliums, irises, lilies, gladioli, begonias

Annuals: Busy Lizzies, lobelias, heliotropes, cornflowers, poppies, marigolds, tobacco plants


Shrubs: spindle tree, rhus, plumbago, Japanese maple

Perennials: chrysanthemums, asters, Chinese lanterns, ligularia, Michaelmas daisies

Bulbs: colchicums, nerines


Shrubs: winter jasmine, mahonia, dogwood, daphne, skimmia, winter heath, clematis

Perennials: winter pansies, violas, hellebores, hepatica

Bulbs: snowdrops, aconites, cyclamen (grows from tubers)


You can have a glorious
mass of different colours.


Garden colour schemes

Colour schemes

The colour wheel, a circle divided into six or twelve, shows how colours relate to each other and gives clues to the effects of juxtaposing them. For gardeners, the six-point colour wheel, made up of primary (red, yellow, blue) and secondary (orange, green, purple) colours, is a useful guide. It may be a good idea to make one as a reference (look it up online), and bear in mind the enormous variety of shades, tones and tints that exist in gardening and in nature, so the colours can be liberally interpreted.

Complementary Also called opposing, these are colours that fall directly opposite each other on the colour wheel: red and green, yellow and purple, blue and orange. Positioned next to each other, they seem especially vibrant, so complementary colour schemes can be eye-catching and lively. A small area of hot complementaries balances a larger area of cool ones.

Contrasting Colours equally spaced around the colour wheel are thought of as contrasting: orange, green, purple. They tend to go well grouped together – vibrant colours and green foliage.

Harmonising Analogous, or harmonising, colours are those that lie next to each other on the colour wheel, e.g. red and purple, yellow and orange, blue and green. Harmonious colour schemes can be elegant and serene, or, with hot colours, invigorating.

Monochromatic Using just one colour can be very effective, but challenging. Some contrast is necessary or the result can seem somewhat bland, so use all the shades, tones and tints at your disposal, and plenty of interesting foliage.


Harmonious colour schemes
can be elegant and serene.


Gardens to visit in 2017

Gardens to visit

If you’re short of ideas, or just want to soak up the atmosphere created by talented garden designers, why not take a trip to one of the hundreds of gardens around the country that are open to visitors? Many show the influence of Gertrude Jekyll (born in 1843), whom we have to thank for introducing colour-themed ‘rooms’ into the garden. Some are renowned for something extra special:

The white garden at Sissinghurst, Kent

Hidcote, in Gloucestershire, famed for its twin red borders

The winter gardens at Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Great Dixter in East Sussex, for unusual colour schemes

Beth Chatto Gardens, Essex, for garden artistry

The herbaceous border at Arley Hall, Cheshire

Harlow Carr, the RHS garden in Yorkshire, pushing the boundaries of design and planting styles

Barnsdale Gardens, Rutland, described as a ‘theme park for gardeners’

Check opening times and facilities before visiting.












Plant a spring flower medley in one hour

How to plant a spring flower medley


Celebrate the start of spring with these easy planted pots

Well thank goodness……..spring begins on Wednesday.

Let’s hope it heralds plenty
of sunshine and new growth.

I have already glimpsed swathes of crocuses and the daffodils are bravely shooting through our lawn at the moment. The front garden does need a little help though as it’s still looking pretty sparse.

Seasonal Garden IdeasThis easy project from Seasonal Garden Ideas
(£3.99 dairydiary.co.uk) is perfect to brighten it up!





Spring Flower Medley

Spring-Flower-Medley-2The beauty of growing plants in pots is that you can bring very different species together to form interesting associations – as proved by this captivating little group themed around the colour blue.

Buy the different plants in March and pot up for flowering in April and May. Takes about one hour. Plant in full sun.

What you need


  • Three deep blue hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Delft Blue’), in leaf, flower buds showing.
  • Five to seven Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ in leaf.
  • Ten to twenty grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum).
  • Three small pots of Anemone blanda ‘Violet Star’.
  • One large pot of trailing variegated ivy (Hedera).


  • Three blue ceramic pots (or any other containers of your choice).
  • Two small terracotta pots.
  • One watering can with a wide mouth.
  • Enough soil-based potting compost to fill all the containers.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Horticultural grit or gravel (optional).
  • Trowel.


1 Water all the plants thoroughly so the rootballs are moist right through. Line all the containers with a layer of broken crocks for drainage.

2 Start filling each container with compost. About halfway up, place the plant in its pot into the container to check for the right level. The top of the rootball should be about 4cm (1½in) below the rim of the container. Add more compost as needed.

3 Carefully tip each plant out of its pot, supporting the rootball and compost with your fingers on each side of the plant stems. Place in the container, firming in gently, then top up with more compost all round the plant, aiming to keep the top of the compost 4cm (1½ in) below the container rim. Firm the plant(s) again, then lift the whole container and tap or bump it gently against the ground to settle the compost and even it out all round.

4 Repeat the planting procedure for all the containers and plants. Water them all thoroughly using a fine rose on your watering can. If you like, scatter a layer of horticultural grit or gravel on top – this will keep weeds at bay, help to retain moisture and give a neat appearance.

5 Finally, position the newly planted containers in their allotted spot and wait for them to flower.

Choose a spot in full sun for the Anemone blanda – these only open fully when the sun is shining right on them.

When choosing your containers, bear in mind overall size and height. The aim is to have a range of sizes from short at the front to tall at the back.

Support the top-heavy hyacinths with discreet bamboo canes and soft string ties if needed. As with most bulbous plants, when the hyacinths, grape hyacinths and iris have finished flowering, allow the leaves to die back completely before lifting the bulbs/corms/rhizomes and planting in the garden. Alternatively, discard the old plants and replace next year with new.

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas.

Plant now for a gorgeous spring display

Plant now for a gorgeous spring display

I would adore to live in a chocolate-box thatched cottage, or an imposing Victorian townhouse, but the reality is actually a 1980s red brick square.

We live in a lovely village and our house is very practical for a busy family, but what it’s not is pretty.

So my mission is to try and soften its
appearance with a gorgeous garden.

As time and money are not in abundance at the moment I need to start small.

Seasonal Garden IdeasWith this project from our
Seasonal Garden Ideas book, the
patch of lifeless soil underneath
the living room window can be
transformed into a fiery riot of
colour (fingers crossed!)

Click here simple step-by-step instructions.

Seasonal Garden Ideas is available for just £3.99 – it is an ideal low-cost Christmas Gift for family and friends.


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