A gardening blog

This one is a selfish blog: I want to record my bulb planting this year and I have got out of the habit of using a gardening diary, tending to blog instead. So this one is a personal record of the thoughts I have been having today on bulbs so that I don't lose them.

For years I didn't really bother with bulbs; too much planning and forward thinking for my younger, childrearing self. But over the last few years I have become passionate about them. I started with tulips for planting in pots but am now equally entranced by snowdrops, daffodils, bluelbells and alliums and this year have bought irises as well. In 2006 we planted 500 snowdrops in the green and another 200 in February this year. Last autumn I planted the native daffodil, Obvallaris, the Tenby daffodil and loads of tulips in pots. They were lovely, the pots glorious for weeks but there were nowhere near enough of the daffodils. I wanted them in the field around the bottom of the big apple tree and beneath the wild cherry by the swing. I planted 30 bulbs - quite hopelessly too little. The big thing to remember here, never having had this much land before, is that you need to think big and plant in quantity.

I also planted over 200 daffodils (Thalia, beautiful; Salome, flashy; Acropolis, pretty but ordinary) along the drive and that was much more successful. Alliums also went in - 100 bulbs of Purple Sensation and they were great. Looking at my list from last year I find I also planted 100 winter crocus which disappeared without trace. How on earth did that happen?

So here is this year's bulb order and thoughts on what to do with them:
120 Tenby daffodils to go in the new orchard around the new fruit trees (cherry, quince, damson, Victoria plum, white and black mulberry) and more for the big apple tree.

50 Tete a Tete daffodils (small and early flowering) already potted up with 25 Iris Katherine Hodgson in smaller pots for grouping by the benches by the cottage.

100 miniature narcissi (a free offer, can't resist them) for the edges of the flower beds in the side garden, the top of the bank, to mix in with the taller herbs (fennel, lovage, hyssop) in the kitchen garden and for the cottage garden with the wallflowers.

200 crocus Queen of the blues to naturalise along the base of the wall (already planted with snowdrops) in the side garden and also by the wooden gate at the bottom of the drive

I haven't been able to resist more of my first love, tulips. Some for naturalising and some for pots.

For the flowerbeds, another 30 Praestans to join the 75 planted last year. They are small and a vivid red, opening wide like stars in the sun. It sounds a lot but you would be amazed at how many disappear - squirrels? who knows?
15 Turkestanica (a species, pale yellow and early), 15 Sylvestris (yellow), 15 bakeri Lilac Wonder and 15 clusiana Lady Jane. I will try the species tulips on the bank by the side of the drive. It is a harsh environment with thin stony soil which bakes in the sun in the summer, but I think that might be ok for species tulips which, according to Anna Pavord, grow in similar conditions in the wild, althought I'm not sure they get as wet in winter as they will on a Welsh hillside.

For the pots 30 Orange Emperor, 30 Ballerina, and another unmissable offer has produced 6 Black Hero, 6 Shirley, 6 Flaming Parrot and 6 Angelique. Plus I have all the ones from last year - 30 Ballerina (I love this, you can tell - a tall, elegant, flaring flower in vivid orange), 30 Pimpernel (pink with green flare) and 30 Artist (orange with green flare). I attempted to dry off and store these in the traditional way last year but I have just read a very discouraging article in the paper which suggests that this is a waste of time and that the bulbs won't do much this year. Hmmm. Never mind, we'll see.

So if only it is dry enough we'll have a planting bulbs day tomorrow for the daffodils and crocuses. The tulips can wait until November. And the thought of the snowdrops waiting underground will console me as we turn the clocks back and get ready for winter.


  1. That list is exhausting. You're quite right - for impact you need quantity and patience. I would love the snowdrops seen in old orchards and under old hedges. They didn't happen overnight.

    We put in the Tenby daffodil - mainly because I didn't want towny cultivars out here in the countryside. No one else seems bothered though.

    Hope you get a good day tomorrow - I can picture you now.

  2. You must have spent a fortune, but well worth it. I wish I had your land. I've planted so many bulbs over the years there is hardly any room to squeeze in anything else. You've also reminded me, I haven't put my foxtail lillies in yet.

  3. 200 daffodils! how gorgeous all this will be.

  4. I've purchased daffodils, crocus, and iris to plant on our new lot under the trees and coming down the hill. I'm just waiting for it to get a bit cooler, as we're still in the 80s every day.

    I planted crocus at my old house, probably about 50 in a bed underneath my dwarf ornamental peach tree. Maybe 10 bloomed. I am pretty sure that the squirrels and rabbits got them because they were used to eating the tiny peaches in the summer. Maybe that's what happened to yours?

  5. I'd offer to help you plant them but i'm busy that day lol... your as bad as us we buy a sack every year of what ever is going cheap..Worth it though xx

  6. That's a lot of bulbs! I've seem to have been planting them non stop lately yet my amounts are miniscule compared to yours. Tulips are my first love in the bulb world too, closely followed by alliums. I never bothered much with crocuses, but suddenly remembered when we used to live opposite a churchyard in Hertfordshire, and how the sight of them all in Spring cheered me immensley, so I've just bunged a load in.

  7. Wow, they all sound lovely, it's worth planting so many so they have a really strong impact.
    S is in the garden now digging over a bed for mixed border alliums and white tulips. I have red and yellow tulips for the verge next to the new chimney and pale apricot and white parrots for the bed around the weeping pear. We planted a sack of mixed daffs last year and this spring they were beautiful. I am waiting for the orchard trees to go in to plant drifts of pheasant's eye narcissi, bluebells and snakeshead fritillaries. Then we'll put in snowdrops in the green next spring.Such an exciting time!

  8. You remind me that I have 300 bulbs awaiting my attention - I too have planted hundreds of crocus bulbs, none of which have ever come. Can't decide whether it's mice or they simply don't like our soil.

  9. Elizabeth, I think I am the same as you - only getting in to bulbs now despite years of buying them to watch them rot in the bag because I couldn't quite face the planting. I love the cheeriness they bring to the garden and sooo envy your alliums as I only seem to have success with the miniature ones. I also loved your blog before about energy; again I think we are very similar as I swing from days of frantic energy to a 'droopy' day or three, but I actually like both so am happy (apart from when I really need to be doing things and find myself sitting staring at the garden!) xx

  10. Well sunday saw all the daffodils and the crocuses planted out - and very hot and sweaty it was too! The big tulip marathon must wait until November.

  11. Now I see that I shall have to come in the Spring to see the results of all this industry. I shall look forward to that.

  12. So maybe I'll grow into having the time for bulbs, Mum asks me every year if i want any and I always say know, she can't understand why, but I like you before do not have the time to bother with them


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