A Day’s Work – Tulip Planting

About a week ago Vicky and I set out to plant tulips in the bookshop bed…Owing to the narrowness of the plot, and the grasses there being tightly spaced, it made sense to uproot everything in order to simplify the bulb planting process.

Pic 1

The bookshop bed before work began

The grasses (Stipa tenuissima) and salvias (Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ and Salvia confertiflora) were carefully prised from the ground, potted up and moved to safety; some of them could then be returned later.

Pic 2

The grasses were replanted or moved elsewhere

The tulips selected were different in colour from the ones already present, which meant unearthing the old bulbs for use elsewhere, a process that involved removing soil; this in turn created a suitably deep base for planting.

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The old bulbs were brought to the top

Tulipa ‘Spring Green’, Tulipa ‘Shirley’ and Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’ were chosen for this bed. Before proceeding, bulbs with signs of disease or damage were rejected then around 140 healthy new bulbs were thoroughly jumbled up.

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The three new varieties combined

To avoid obvious lines or patterns the new bulbs were distributed much as seeds are scattered, and were planted where they fell (or moved if too close); this was intended to create a naturalistic effect.

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The bulbs after ‘random’ scattering

It is best to plant tulips from mid- to late autumn when the weather is cold to prevent the spread of tulip fire, a fungal disease. A planting depth of two or three times the bulb’s height and spacing of at least twice the bulb’s width is advised.

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Tulip bulbs multiply by producing offsets

Once safely in position the bulbs were buried and the soil worked flat. Note that in clay or sand you can incorporate organic matter, and in poor soils consider adding nutrients.

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The soil surface was raked smooth

Some of the original plants were reinstated to avoid leaving the bed bereft of interest. Any gaps could be filled with bedding, or the whole area mulched for a tidier appearance.

pic 8b

Some of the grasses and salvias back in place

The remaining new bulbs went to areas that had not previously included tulips. Spreading them thinly meant that a large area could be covered to provide a broad-reaching display.

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A meandering ribbon of bulbs

The task complete, we can look forward to a striking show in spring when these plants reveal their colourful goblet-like flowers.

                                                                                Tom Whalley, Assistant Gardener

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Its starting to look a lot like Christma

Its starting to look a lot like Christmas in the café with our topsy-turvy decorations going up. http://ow.ly/i/eI4x0

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Our gardeners have been planting bulbs t

Our gardeners have been planting bulbs today up near the bookshop in preparation for Spring. http://ow.ly/i/eCdXG

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Sleeping beauties

As the light begins to fade and the evenings get darker the summer borders at Nymans come to their natural end. The annuals are removed and composted, the perennials are cut back and tidied and the dahlias are lifted and ‘put to bed’ for the winter.

Cutting back the borders after a long summer flowering season

The garden team cutting back the borders after a long summer flowering season.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked in the nursery is about the care of dahlias over the winter. Here is a glimpse of how we look after these ‘sleeping beauties’ over the colder months.

Storing and over-wintering the dahlias so they can be planted out again the following year, is an important part of this autumn ritual and has been carried out in the same way for over 50 years. Taking the time to look after them through the winter means that they will be less susceptible to damp and disease and will be strong and healthy when they are re-planted in the spring.

One of the most popular dahlia varieties in the garden. 'David Howard'

One of the most popular dahlia varieties in the garden. ‘David Howard’

Once the annuals have been cleared away, the dahlias are labeled and the foliage cut back. They are then dug up from the border with as much soil as possible removed from the tubers before they are put in crates and returned to the nursery.

The dahlias are put into crates, ready for cleaning.

The dahlias are put into crates, ready for cleaning.

Once at the nursery, the stems are cut down to about 5cm  and the dahlias turned upside down for a couple of weeks to allow any excess water that has gathered in the stems to drain out. This will prevent the tubers from rotting over the winter. When they have dried out the tubers are cleaned by removing any caked- on soil – a slow but necessary task!

When clean, plastic crates are lined with old newspaper, putting each variety in a different crate. The final stage is to lightly cover the tubers with dry compost which protects the tubers from drying out completely. They are then stored in a dry, frost-free area of the glasshouse.

In the spring we check for shoots and give the tubers a sprinkling of water when they appear. The dahlias are then ready for planting out again in the borders once the danger of frosts has passed, and the cycle begins again.

Dahlias being planted in the summer borders in the spring.

Dahlias being planted in the summer borders in the spring.

If you are over-wintering dahlias at home, you can adapt these methods as long as you have somewhere dry, frost-free and with good air circulation. When the new shoots start to appear it is also a great way to take basal cuttings to raise new plants for your garden.

Dahlia 'Jesscut Julie' in the summer borders.

Dahlia ‘Jescot Julie’ in the summer borders.

Marianne Goodman, Nymans Nursery

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Awsome Autumn Colour

You can't go too far wrong with an Acer tree when it comes to Autumn. This Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku' in the Pinetum for example, is one of the first to do its thing

Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, you can’t go wrong with an Acer tree when it comes to Autumn

Autumn is a magical time of year. The change of leaf colour never fails to surprise and delight us here at Nymans. But have you ever wondered how and why a leaf changes colour? Without getting too scientific, let’s try to explain it.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ is one of the best trees to turn red in Autumn

Leaves contain three main chemicals; chlorophyll (green), xanthophyll (yellow) and carotene (orange). During the growing season chlorophyll produces food for the tree through photosynthesis, using water from the soil to do it’s job. Water is absorbed by the tree’s roots, travels up the trunk and enters the leaves through tubes in the leaf’s stem. Because it is the most dominant and active chemical it gives leaves their green colour.

Tilia x europaea on Lime Avenue

Tilia x europaea on Lime Avenue

As winter approaches, the tree begins to shut down. A thin layer of cells grow over the water tubes in the leaves and closes them up in preparation for the winter. This prevents any more water getting into the leaf. Without the water, the green chlorophyll starts to disappear and the other colours in the leaf (yellow xanthophyll and orange carotene) can finally be seen. Essentially, the leaves don’t really “turn” a certain colour, they just lose their green.

Carya ovate in the arboretum

Carya ovate in the Arboretum

So, still with me? Of course not all leaves turns yellow and orange. What about purple and red leaves? Well tree sap uses the same tubes that carry water to carry sugar around the tree. When cells cover the tubes (as we near winter), sugar gets trapped inside the leaf. This sugar can cause the sap to turn red or purple which then makes the leaves red or purple.

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Parthenocissus quinquefolia gives you a warm welcome to Nymans

When the tree starts to shut down the leaves start to die. The green chlorophyll dies first, followed by xanthophyll and carotene. When all of the chemicals are gone, the leaf is dead and brown.

Quercus rubra leaves falling in the arboretum

Quercus rubra leaves falling in the Arboretum

It seems like a sad note to finish on but always remember that there is still next year!

Written by Joe Whelan, Gardener

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The café’s closed today for electrical

The café’s closed today for electrical work but you can still get the essential tea & cake from the tea garden kiosk http://ow.ly/i/eeKXn

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Never mind the rain- plant combination o

Never mind the rain- plant combination of the week is Tulbaghia violacea and Nerine ‘Stephanie,’ both flowering their socks off in the Forecourt Garden. http://ow.ly/i/eeO24

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