Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
LIFE is full of choices, changes, challenges, concessions, compromises, all of which lead to consequences. There we have six words beginning with the letter c which can also relate to gardening, where we have fun and nice things to do but, there are downsides when the tasks are not often welcome but must be done at some stage, otherwise everything can tumble down into chaos.
I suppose weeding and getting rid of briars, ivy and bindweed would be among the boring things to do but it is an annual labour that cannot be put off for ever. It can be a mood or condition that sparks us off to take on the less fun garden activities but I find that a compromise can work where a mixture of both the good and bad is taken on. I might suggest that completing less attractive tasks brings on a feeling of greater satisfaction than many of the fun things that we enjoy doing.
We all look forward in the New Year to seeing our first snowdrops, which then leads to our first daffodils and from then on the crocus, tulips, alliums and other spring flowering bulbs. It is sometimes difficult to get motivated enough to start planting bulbs when they will only come into flower some months later but that must be done and while the greater range are in garden centres there are reasonable selections in many shops. Planting is so easy and does not take time, and the rewards are great when you see them in flower.
Where to plant
Bulbs are very accommodating in that they will grow almost everywhere but like all plants will not tolerate wet, badly drained or very poor soil. If you can choose well drained soil that is rich in humus or compost all the better but take extra trouble preparing heavy ground for better results. Nearly all bulbs take a reasonably long time for the foliage to die down after flowering, and this is a bit frustrating for many people but the fading leaves contain much of the food for next year’s flowers and so are necessary. The solution is to plant bulbs in areas where the leaves can be left to die down naturally which might be among shrubs or at the back of a border.
What to plant
If you use a selection of the many different bulb types, you will be able to have some flowers from January until June and all you need to do is look at the flowering times on the bulb pack or picture to choose your selection. You might end up selecting a range of daffodil and tulip varieties as these have a long flowering period which can span two or more months but for the remaining bulbs the flowering period is more or less within a month to six weeks. I have just about enough room to mention some of the bulbs in the order of flowering from January until the latest in June and they include cyclamen coum, snowdrops, iris reticulata, daffodils and narcissi (too many to list), crocus, anemone blanda, muscari, tulips (too many to list), fritillaria, anemone ‘De Caen’ and alliums.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Vegetables plots are becoming bare and it will only take a mild frost to kill off our courgettes and other less hardy varieties, with the drop in temperature stopping growth but allowing hardier vegetables toughen up, and they can be left in the soil for now but I should continue to eat them otherwise you will never clear the plot.
Bare patches of vegetable plots can be improved if farmyard manure or similar is dug in and left rough over the winter. An alternative is to sow with a green manure such as field beans which will grow strongly and can be dug in a few weeks before the area is needed for a new crop next spring.
Plant out Sweet Williams, wallflowers, garlic and onion sets in the next eight weeks.