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Trouble with tulips and other thoughts

Posted on 24th April, 2019

Has you seen are new Narcissus display for the Village in Bloom at the front of Smiths Hall? It extends from the front drive through to the courtyard and consist of Actea, Jack Snipe, Bravoure, Surfside, Chinita, Green eye lady, Fortissimo and Jetfire types with over 4500 bulbs planted. If you haven’t seen it yet it’s worth a look!


The Narcissus have been chosen for a variety of reasons such as when they flower, height and colour. You never truly know how the combinations will play out until it all unfolds in front of your eyes.  


The Tulipa Merlot in the courtyard is just starting to flower alongside the narcissus.


This month I thought I would give a recap of the white border that was pictured in June’s blog last year. We planted all of the perennials and shrubs mainly in May 2018 and the bulbs in November 2018. So this is the first time the bulbs have flowered pictured below. All of the plants survived the winter with a couple getting slight frost damage on leaf tips, so this winter they will be fleeced to try and prevent it from happening again.  


The bulbs are Narcissi triandus petrel, Tulipa diana, Tulia hakuun, Hyacinth aiolos They have all performed well and have displayed a great contrast of shapes across the bed, the Hosta white feather has also started to appear and the new young white leaves are bright and eye catching, even the alliums multibulbosom nigrum which are yet to flower have a glaucous leaf which mutes the green and gives it a silver sheen.


When choosing plants for a monochrome display it is always hard to get the colour just right.  I have never personally designed a white border from scratch so this was no small challenge. A lot of research went in to finding the crisp white flowers and as you know you can never rely on a photo for a precise match. So you can imagine my relief when they all came up crisp white. I remember one time at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens when I walked in to the white garden and found the newly planted tulips that had been put in coming up with a hint of pink! Needless to say they were removed instantly. But it shows that even the professionals make mistakes.


Over February and March we have been bringing back another part on the garden which had been lost to the wilderness.  A lawn that was now just moss in complete shade surrounded by self-sown trees that had matured and at the same time been taken over by ivy. The ivy was covering an area of at least 22m x 5m. So we dug out and removed all of the ivy and cut it off of the surrounding trees, had a number of trees removed with the large stumps grinded out and the smaller ones dug out completely.

 So once the site was clear and levelled I marked out the new shape of the beds and added a new hedge line. The hedge line separates the 3 new beds whilst also creating a screen between areas, this gives visitors a chance to discover new areas of the garden around the corner rather than seeing everything at once. A section of the lawn has been turfed with a specific shade tolerant grass mix to help the lawn cope with the shaded conditions, a section has also been seeded with a shade tolerant mix. If you have problem areas in your garden with shaded lawns you might want to consider this option. I would recommend you make sure the mix has these four grasses- creeping red fescue, chewings fescue, smooth stalked meadow grass and poa supina.

The plan is to leave the bed empty this year to combat any reoccurring ivy or other problem weeds so in the winter we can give the soil a good mulch knowing its weed free and plant it up in spring 2020.

Here is some photos of the tulips that are around the garden I especially like the yellow native British tulip – tulipa sylvestris. It is the only native tulip in Britain and you don’t see it around that often. If you have an orchard or wild area it will naturalise great in the lawn and spread over time.


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