Do you bother with any winter planting?

I have been reviewing plants from the online plant nursery Plant me now right over this year and now is the time for winter bedding.  For me, winter bedding means plants that I use in pots, planted on top of layers of bulbs for spring.  I am very inclined to leave my garden be in the winter and come inside by the fire but I do plant up seven big pots before I give up and turn my back on it.  It is choosing the bulbs for the pots, especially tulips,  that really gets me going so I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed choosing other things for colour and form over the winter.  Last week the order arrived and I had a lot of fun unpacking it all and potting some of it on as I am not yet quite ready to do my tulip pots.

As usual, the plants arrived well packaged and well grown, not huge but bigger than many plug plants which come from other nurseries.  I had ordered two different types of Viola Sorbet.

This one is Viola Sorbet Lemon Blueberry Swirl.  The name makes it sound rather a mess but it is actually very lovely, a small, perfect, delicate flower held above neat foliage.

And this is Blue Delft, a cleaner, crisper colour combination.  If I had been planting up my pots right away all of these could have gone straight into the pots but as I have not even put in my tulip order yet (I shall probably use Peter Nyssen who have been very good so far) I decided to pot them all on so they could spend another three or four weeks in the greenhouse happily enough.

I also ordered some wallflowers, Sugar Rush Red, Bronze and Primrose.

I normally grow wallflowers from seed so I will be interested to see if buying them now as plug plants gives me earlier flowering.  I do like this deep rich red.

I also really like this bronze colour although I need to resist the urge to plant it with orange tulips.  I have a real love of orange tulips.  Last year I planted Orange Favourite with Cairo, a bronze tulip and really didn't like the combination.  The bronze, which looked great by itself or in contrast with something darker, looked muddy next to the clarity of the orange so the bronze wallflower if used with tulips will be for contrast with dark or pale. The primrose wallflower is very pale, hardly yellow at all but almost a rich cream, so it should go well with either of the darker colours.

Lastly there were cyclamen.  I absolutely love cyclamen and have both cyclamen coum and cyclamen hederifolium.  I have been trying to establish both here for ages and now have half a dozen plants of each.  I would be ashamed to tell you how many plants I have put in to get this far!  Hederifolium flower in late summer and autumn and there are some in flower now, delicate and pale under a huge viburnum farreri. Cyclamen coum has established a bit more happily and should flower in the early spring but the leaves at this time of year are still hidden underground.  The cyclamen which have come from plant me now are not for naturalising but are cyclamen persicum, a variety called Silverado in both Red and White. These will go into pots too.  The leaves alone are very beautiful to my eye.

I am impressed with the quality of the plants from plant me now.  The pelargoniums which I had earlier in the summer are still growing strongly in the pots outside the cottage.  The perennials, especially the rudbeckia Goldsturm and the viola labradorica, have settled well into the garden and are bulking up nicely.  The agyranthemum flowered their hearts out in the pots in early summer.  I would probably not use the smaller dahlias which I also planted into pots.  They are still flowering and have earned their keep but I love the huge dahlias which are in the cutting garden with their ludicrously over the top flowers.  The smaller dahlias seem to me more workaday altogether without any of the drama of Ludwig Helfert.

This is Ludwig, exploding all over the place.  Perhaps next year is the year I will get more deeply into dahlias!

So now for the bulb order....


  1. I rather like Ludwig. Being a non-gardener or at least on the nursery slopes of geraniums and self-seeded antirrhinums and foxgloves, I buy a flower or two when I pass through IKEA's market hall and the other day I bought a Ludwig. Of course I didn't know it was a Ludwig - that's why I read your blogs. In search of erudition, me. But I am rather fond of silk flowers and think there could be a market for a waterproof variety for outdoor use. They would save a lot of bother. Mind you I can't always tell the difference between silk and cellulose and once watered a neighbour's indoor acer only to have her tell me that it was silk! Ho hum and cringe! Maybe I should buy tulip bulbs in the market hall next time.

  2. Ludwig is gorgeous!
    I plant violas - pansies - at this time of year, and daffodils and tulip bulbs next month. I've never planted wallflowers, but I think I should!

  3. You have me wondering about wall flowers now! But with such a tiny space available for planting I'm trying to concentrate on plants that give good colour in the dye pot. That said we have just planted up posts with cyclamen and I must put in a bulb order too ... I'll be very interested to see what you get :)

  4. Nope, I don't deal too much with annuals, since I have limited sun exposure (lotsa trees) but I do love my fall blooming perennials, which were planted years ago. The black-eyed susans, the remaining dried blooms on the hydrangeas, the pink daisies (yet to bloom) and the Montauk daisies (also yet to bloom)... those types of things. If I plant pansies in pots, its usually in late spring, but by fall they're usually leggy and tired. Love your Ludwig!

  5. Forgot to mention the purple ageratum! (Buds showing just now)

  6. I love the idea of winter planting, but alas it would be foolhardy to even try on our windy island. So to add a little winter cheer I fill the polytunnel benches with pots of bulbs. The sternbergias are just starting to shoot and the cyclamen won't be too far behind.
    There is always room to squeeze in a few more, so I might just join you in perusing the bulb catalogues.

  7. Your Dahlia Ludwig is a beauty. I am not for winter instant gardening. I sow sometimes a packet of pansy seed and the Cheiranthus I have sown years ago. They remain a long time and are also self seeding.

  8. Elizabeth, your enthusiasm for your garden plans is infectious! Dahlias are so beautifully dramatic...they really are gorgeous in shape and color.

    Violas are charming and easily attract closer admiration from fans like myself.

    And I completely agree with you about cyclamen leaves being lovely. Of course, their flowers are delightful. I always remember seeing cyclamen blooming from hanging baskets outside homes and pubs in London on my very first visit over there...ages ago. A very happy association!


  9. I adore wallflowers Elizabeth - they remind me of my father, who grew them from seed every year. They seem to have lost their popularity a bit round here lately. The trouble with any winter bedding here in North Yorkshire is that so much depends on the weather. Some years it does really well and other years it just dies because the weather is too wet. I am afraid that I have largely stopped doing it apart from the two tubs outside my door.

  10. What a lovely selection, and what a splendid dahlia! And an amazing coincidence - I just bought two trays of Viola Lemon Blueberry Swirl in Dolgellau; so cute that I couldn't resist, and they've gone into my lane-side pots. Let's hope they do well!

  11. Every year I intend to plant winter pansies and wallflowers but so far it hasn't happened. Maybe this year will be the one!

  12. Ludwig looks good. Dahlias are my favourite, can't get enough of them!


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