I was far too late for sowing early spring blooms last autumn so this week I’ve been busy planting out summer flowering bulbs in the garden. I’m determined to have a fully flowering white garden all through summer this year. I want it packed to the brim so I can come in from the garden, arms laden with cut flowers to dot about the house in vases. Well, that’s the plan anyway.
My favourite kind of gardening is the type where you plant it, leave it and it does all the work for you. Bulbs are brilliant for that. This weird and wonderful wurzely world lies dormant until you give them the right conditions at the right time to thrive. All that energy stored inside, waiting. And then suddenly, shoots appear up from the ground in clumps. Forgotten flowers!
I bought a basic pack of 25 white flowering bulbs from the garden centre and thought I’d share how easy it is to grow them. They will thrive in most soil types and are just as happy in containers, too…
Plant dahlias for all-summer-long blooms
Technically, dahlias aren’t a bulb as such, in fact they’re a tuber. But given that they’re the queens of the summer flower bed, I could hardly leave them out. With some varieties growing flowers the size of dinner plates, the range of colours is huge and make for romantic, billowy cut flowers.
Dahlias are prolific flowerers once they get going in early summer. And they just reward you with more when you cut them regularly. Don’t be tempted to plant these out in the garden until April when any danger of frosts has passed. In the meantime, you can pot the tubers in a pot of peat-free compost and keep them moist somewhere cool indoors. I’ve potted up a cream-blush ‘Cafe Au Lait’ and white ‘Snowstorm’ variety in the sunroom and by April they’ll be a bushy enough to transplant into the border.
HOW TO PLANT – Start them off in a pot of compost indoors on a windowsill or greenhouse. Plant with the tubers facing down and the old stem poking just above the surface. Keep them moist and plant out in a sun drenched spot with well drained soil when frosts have passed.
TIP – Did you know that dahlia petals are edible? They look so beautiful sprinkled over a summer salad.
Gladioli bring height into the border
If you’re looking to bring height into your border then Gladioli are the answer. Their tall flowering spikes will keep you company from May – August and their tropical appeal owes to the fact they’re native to South Africa and the Mediterranean.
HOW TO PLANT – Choose a sheltered spot in full sun with moist, well draining soil. Plant the corms 4″ deep and 4″ apart. Stake them once established for support.
TIP – Stagger your planting over several weeks rather than all at once to extend the flowering period through into early autumn.
Grow Ranunculus and Anemones for cut flowers
Flowering from May – June and one of the more expensive flowers to buy from the florist, I try to grow ranunculus and anemones to give me a decent supply to satisfy my cravings. These really are the jewels of the garden border, it’s hard to believe such beauties can grow from these wrinkled, alien-like corms.
HOW TO PLANT – Find a spot in full sun or partial shade in well drained soil (they hate wet roots). Space them at 2″ intervals approximately 2-3″ deep. Place the ranunculus with their claw-like roots facing down. For anemones, check the variety before planting – I sowed these ones on their sides.
TIP – Ranunculus and anemone corms benefit greatly from a 2-4 hr pre-soak in water before planting them out. This rehydrates them (in fact, you can watch them plump out) and gives them a better chance of germination.
Styling & photography © Tiffany Grant-Riley