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Summer Bulbs to go wow

  25/02/2014 at 13:23 pm

I know spring bulbs are only making their appearance in the garden, and I’m talking about planting summer bulbs. But when it comes to planting bulbs, you have to be working about five to six months ahead. Keep in mind when planting summer bulbs, with careful selection you will be able to have summer flowers from early summer right through until late autumn. You don’t need to have a garden to plant summer bulbs as many varieties are perfect for planting in tubs and containers.

Lilies come in all shapes and sizes and their beauty is synonymous with summer fragrance and stunning colours to make you go wow. Lilies are probably the most important and successful bulbs ever to be grown in the garden. As general rule lilies require a rich deep fertile soil and benefit from the addition of leaf mould or well rotted compost. It would be wrong of me to say they all require the same growing conditions, as this varies according to individual plant species. Bear in mind the lilies which give the best fragrance, are usually the varieties that require acid soils. Look out for oriental hybrid lilies with their alluring colours and beautiful fragrance. “Star Gazer” lily is often regarded by many, as one of the best oriental hybrid lilies and one of the leading cut flowers.

Begonias come in all shapes and sizes, which can often lead to confusion on their growing conditions and winter storage. Generally fibrous begonias are classed as bedding begonias and hence they are treated as annual summer bedding. Only the other day I was asked what did I mean by the term “bedding plant”, this is the term given to plants which are planted en-masse in a flower beds to cover the ground, hence the term “carpet bedding”. Tuberous begonias are grown from tubers which are basically a flattened bulb, which are planted with the hollow side facing up. The best known tuber begonias are the tuberhybrida which give massive double flowers measuring up to 15cm (6”) in diameter. They look amazing when planted in borders and flourish when planted in dappled shade. Tuber begonias can also be used in pots and make a great addition to the patio where they are guaranteed to flower all summer long, producing masses of giant blooms. Remember to dead-head, which is removing flowers that have faded to promote healthy new flower buds.

Dahlias are now available in spectacular range of types, sizes, and colours, ranging from small pompoms, to amazing cactus flowers. Dahlias are known for their large blooms and rich colours, including orange, red, and pink. In 1826 the horticultural society of England (later to be called the Royal Horticultural Society) offered a reward of one thousand pounds to any person who could produce a blue dahlia. As to date the reward has not been claimed, and we are all still waiting for the true blue dahlia. The dahlia and the rose are two perfect examples of plants which claim to have perfected blue flowers, but in reality wishy-washy lavender is a poor substitute for blue. Dahlias are excellent for cut flowers and bloom vigorously throughout the summer, provided faded blooms are removed on a regular basis.

Dahlias are best planted in the spring when the ground has begun to warm-up and no hard frosts are expected. Like the potato, dahlias are grown from tubers that contain high moisture levels, which make them susceptible to frost damage. Traditionally dahlias were always removed from the ground after first frost; this was always the signal of the start of winter. Coupled with milder winters and sound horticultural traditions not been passed on, many dahlia tubers perished in last winters sub-zero frosts, simply because they had not been removed from the ground. Following careful instructions from my grandmother, I would always remove dahlia tubers in late autumn and store them in the garage covered in peat. The clumps of dahlia tubers would be turned upside down on the garage floor to be allowed to dry prior to been stored in trays. Because of the extremities of our previous two winters, placing dahlia tubers in a shed or garage is not sufficient frost protection; you must cover and provide frost protection heating.

Dahlia tubers are what we call stem-tubers; this is where they are able to store lots of energy within the root, unlike ordinary roots which cannot store energy. They can be easily propagated in early spring, by dividing large clumps in to smaller clumps containing swollen tubers.

To do list:

1.Now is the time to plant dahlia tubers Tip: Dahlias prefer a rich soil that is able to retain moisture. Incorporate lots of well rotted farm-yard-manure into the planting bed prior to planting. In inclement weather conditions dahlias can be planted in pots and planted out when frosts have passed.

2.Plant apple trees now Tip: Always plant apple trees on sheltered sites that are protected from harsh winds, this will help protect delicate blossoms from frost damage. As a general rule always plant apple trees in pairs, for cross-pollination. Bramley cooking apples are an exception to the rule and require two different apple trees to be planted near by for cross- pollination.

3.Asparagus crowns and rhubarb are available for planting now. Tip: The secret to success with asparagus and rhubarbs is all in the preparation of the soil. Adding lots and lots of farm-yard-manure or well rotted compost is the ingredients to success.

By Eamonn Wall