Peonies, ferns and Roses popular at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) announces some of the plant trends and stand-out themes at the world’s most famous gardening event, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 (24-28 May), sponsored by M&G Investments.

Bracken Fern (Pteridium)

Plant trends

Peonies are a design favourite this year and roses feature prominently. Other popular flowers include alliums, achillea, foxgloves, irises, lavender and geum. Box Hedging feature in the plans of eight gardens including Charlie Albone’s ‘The Husqvarna Garden‘ but many clipped alternatives to box, such as yew and bay are also used.

Ferns are proving popular with some designers, while others have turned to plants such as Bracken and Horsetail to add beauty to a garden. Oak trees are a predominant feature being used by designers such as Cleve West.


Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticulturalist, said: “Dramatically exotic peonies are set to be leading actors this year and have proved to be an interesting and exciting plant choice for designers such as Matthew Wilson and Hay Hwang. Roses are also popular, with Jo Thompson featuring the beautiful bloom. Rose-related enquiries topped our RHS advisory list this year and are much loved by gardeners.

“Pastel predominates as a colour, but there is a healthy amount of green seen in many of the gardens, with rich plantings of ferns. Ferns don’t tend to be readily stocked in plant centres, so I wonder if this will now change as people are inspired by what they see at the Show.

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“A real point of interest is that so many oaks feature in plans – an iconic UK tree at a time when so much ash is suffering and oak processionary moth is moving into the countryside and tree disease Xylella fastidiosa, albeit one adapted to olives, is spreading in Europe – a subliminal concern for this tree perhaps?

“Based on our Gardening Advice service, our members may well be quite surprised to see some weeds in RHS Chelsea gardens – but everyone knows a weed is just a plant in the wrong place.”

For many visitors and BBC viewers, the most rewarding aspect of the show is picking out details for use in their own gardens and there are many notable projects, says Guy: “Jekka McVicar’s herbal lay for example, reminds me of some research RHS and Reading University conducted where low growing plants that are not grasses were used as permanent ‘turf’. A ley is defined as temporary pasture, often nowadays including forbs such as milfoil and chicory. Indeed why can’t gardeners grow leys as a kind of temporary lawn / wildlife / herbal border – they are often raised from seed and are low cost and wildlife friendly.”

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Exotic Peonies, Ferns and David Austin Shrub Rose ‘Roald Dahl’

New plants

David Austin Roses launches the new English shrub rose, ‘Roald Dahl’, which is named in honour of the world’s number one storyteller and marks 100 years since his birth as part of the official Roald Dahl 100 celebrations. Appropriately the blooms are peach-coloured, acknowledging Roald’s ‘James and the Giant Peach’, which was his first literary success in 1961. The ‘Roald Dahl’ rose is a remarkably free-flowering rose with the blooms produced almost continuously.
The ‘Princess Charlotte’ chrysanthemum by Deliflor is launching in honour of the royal baby. Other new plants include Acer ‘Moonrise’ by Hillier Nurseries, hosta ‘Smiling Mouse’ by Hogarth Hostas, vibrant and deep red ‘Cherry Kiss’ by Millais Nurseries. For a look at the full list of new plants visit:

Dan Pearson’s Chatworth Garden, winning garden of the 2015 edition

Health, Happiness and Horticulture

Last year, the RHS Greening Grey Britain campaign was launched in response to the worrying trend of paving over front gardens. The growth of grey space, and decline of green, aggravates a range of environmental challenges, while the domination of grey, hard surfaces has been shown to have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing.

The RHS has teamed-up with award-winning designer Ann-Marie Powell to champion the health and wellbeing benefits of horticulture. The charity believes everybody should have access to a garden and the joy and happiness it brings. Ann-Marie’s garden celebrates the wide range of plants and tactics gardeners can use to promote health and happiness. Her garden includes: cacti, fruit and vegetables, wildflowers, fruit trees, herbs, a bug house, a kitchen garden, a compost bin, hanging baskets, house-plants, seedlings, and many more ‘take-home’ ideas.

Launched today, ‘Urban Connections’, a new Fresh Garden for the Victoria Business Improvement District, by design duo Lee Bestall and Paul Robinson highlights the growing issue of elderly isolation and showcases the role that high quality public spaces play in bringing communities and generations together.

Other exhibits that follow this theme include RHS Ambassador Jekka McVicar’s ‘A Modern Apothecary’ which champions the healing power of herbs, Chris Beardshaw’s collaboration with Great Ormand Street Hospital and ‘The Garden Bed’ by Alison Doxey and Stephen Welch.

Theatrical performances

RHS Chelsea provides an international stage for horticulturists and there’s even more of a theatrical feel to the show this year. At first glance, the ‘Harrods Eccentric British Garden’ designed by horticultural showman, Diarmuid Gavin, appears to be a beautifully gentle garden of terraces and topiary, but all of a sudden, the garden puts on a performance with mechanical buzzings and whirrings, a tower that erects, box balls that bob up and down and conical bay trees that begin to twirl.

Leading designer Peter Eustance has created an Artisan garden for disability charity Papworth Trust. Inspired by world renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and the ‘sea music’ produced by the women of the Vanuatu islands, Peter’s garden becomes a musical instrument. A water marimba – a giant set of musical bars – generate an acoustic pulse, while soft planting on either side of green oak monoliths will create a diaphanous, dancing screen that will sway to the music, with floral soloists adding to the horticultural concerto.

Other dramatic elements at the show include giant jagged bronze fins representing an ancient mountain range in The Daily Telegraph’s garden, by Andy Sturgeon and a 2.5m granite cube, which contains a garden, representing a world inside out by Martin Cook and Gary Breeze.

Futuristic v Traditional

Although RHS Chelsea represents the very forefront of horticultural design it is also a showcase for the traditional horticultural landscape. Find below the best of both.

Hay Hwang has designed the ‘Smart Garden for LG Electronics’. With an alternative approach to reclaiming our outdoor spaces, Hay’s futuristic garden aims to bring technology to the forefront of design with lighting, water features and audio-visual aspects of the garden controlled simply by the touch of a button – is this a glance into the future?

Other modern gardens include Paul Martin’s ‘The Garden of Mindful Living’ which represents a contemporary modern garden designed to be a calm space to reboot after a hectic day.

Jo Thompson’s garden for Qatari Diar represents a more traditional garden. Inspired by the first site of the Chelsea Barracks and the architecture of the new development close to Royal Hospital, The Chelsea Barracks Garden features roses interspersed with perennial planting throughout.

More traditional horticultural landscapes can be seen in gardens such as Matthew Wilson’s for Welcome to Yorkshire which celebrates the diversity of plants in the Region’s gardens with a series of beds.

Paying homage to nature

Along Main Avenue, a number of RHS Chelsea designers have been inspired by, or are recreating landscapes. The M&G Garden by Cleve West, for example, was inspired by his memory of the ancient oak woodland on Exmoor National Park where he spent his teenage years. The planting in Rosy Hardy’s garden ‘Brewin Dolphin – Forever Freefolk’, features planting that reflects the planting around the River Test near Freefolk in Hampshire, and will also showcase the ‘Right Plant Right Place’ mantra that Rosy works to.

Similarly, Sam Ovens’ garden for Cloudy Bay is inspired by the horticultural landscape of the Marlborough region in New Zealand and visitors can expect to feel transported to the lavender fields and stunted woodland of Provence, in France by James Basson.

Major Johnston’s Jardin de la Madone in Menton


Jardin de la Madone also known as Serre de la Madone (Hill of the Madonna) is located in Menton in southern France. The garden is famous for the design and the collection of rare plantings and of course for the man who created this beautiful garden, Lawrence Johnston.



Major Johnston traveled to all corners of the world  for his plant hunting expeditions, many of the plants that he collected ended up in his garden in Great Britain, Hidcote Manor Garden (1907),  witch is one of the most famous gardens of the world.



Jardin de la Madone was created in the period between 1924- 1939 and offered an excellent site for the plants Johnston collected from subtropical regions. The garden lies on a hillside in the Gorbio Valley with a farmhouse to witch Major Johnstone added two large wings. Over the years he created a series of terraces among old olive trees, planted and tended by twelve gardeners.


After Johnston’s death in 1958 the garden had several owners and wasn’t always maintained with the respect it deserved. In 1999 Jardin de la Madone was purchased by the non-profit organisation Conservatoire du Littoral who began restoring it to Major Johnston’s original design.


The garden contains a collection of subtropical plants centered around a double pool and rising in terraces. Johnston used hedges and low walls to divide the garden into discrete areas.




Photography by Sergey Karepanov


Top 10 British Gardens to visit in 2016

Executive Vice President of the RHS Jim Gardiner is leading the search for the RHS’ new
fifth Garden. Previously Director of Horticulture and Curator of the RHS’ flagship garden,
RHS Garden Wisley, and recently winner of the International Garden Tourism Award, Jim
has worked in horticulture for nearly 50 years, with 25 years spent at the RHS.

Having visited and enjoyed hundreds of gardens in the UK and around the world, here Jim
shares his top gardens to visit in 2016. The top ten gardens have been personally selected by Jim for the tremendous breadth of plants on show and how they are displayed.

Jim Gardiner, Executive Vice President of the RHS


Tasmanian Garden. Logan Botanic Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Dumfries and Galloway

Famed for its tender collections, Logan’s Walled Garden is a showcase for brilliant blooms
and is ablaze with colour throughout the season. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, the climate
provides the ideal growing conditions for an amazing collection of southern hemisphere
plants in this 15 acre site.

The Woodland Garden is a haven for a host of weird and wonderful plants and trees, such as eucalypts and the gunnera bog. WEBSITE

RHS Harlow Carr

RHS Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire

RHS Harlow Carr covers 68 acres of Yorkshire landscape, dominated by water, stone and
woodland. The garden has a wide variety of growing landscapes, from running and still water to woodland and wildflower meadows. Harlow Carr’s Alpine Zone is home to a collection of over 2,000 alpines which compliments the plant collections found in its rock gardens and woodland terraces. WEBSITE

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Powis Castle in Wales.

Powis Garden (at Powis Castle), Wales

Dating back 300 years, Powis Garden is often described as one of the greatest surviving
examples of Baroque garden design in Britain. The imposing red walls of Powis Castle form a dramatic backdrop to 26 acres of clipped yews, rare and tender plants, Italianate terraces, sophisticated flower borders, informal woodland and fantastical topiary. WEBSITE

East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens, Norfolk

East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens, Norfolk

A varied coastal garden of 32 acres with a combination of traditional borders, an exotic
garden, desert wash, topiary, a walled garden and Mediterranean garden. The garden is well known for its stunning plant combinations, as well as its vegetable and cutting gardens. WEBSITE

RHS Hyde Hall, Essex

RHS Hyde Hall, Essex

RHS Garden Hyde Hall is situated in one of the driest parts of the UK, with an average rainfall of just 600mm. First developed in 2001, the Dry Garden is one of the best  examples of its type in the country, showcasing a range of drought tolerant plants. Also to enjoy on this 360 acre site is the Hilltop Garden with its Rose Garden and herbaceous borders, and its view of the surrounding landscape. Work is currently underway on a new winter garden. WEBSITE

Annual pictorial Meadow RHS Wisley

RHS Wisley, Surrey

RHS Garden Wisley holds the largest cultivated plant collection in the world within its 200
acres, with close to 25,000 plant varieties. This flagship of the RHS gardens contains the
RHS Wisley Bicentenary Glasshouse, supporting more than 5,000 tender plants, making it
the largest collection of cultivated glasshouse plants in the UK.

Whatever time of year you will find areas of interest! During spring, the Alpine House and Rock Garden are a treasure house of “jewels” while the Wild Garden and Battleston Hill are filled with a kaleidoscope of woody flower colour. The Rose Garden and Herbaceous borders are awash with summer flower colour and scent while the Jubilee Arboretum is full of autumn foliage colour.

Take the winter trail around 7 Acres Lake with flower interest from witch hazels and heathers as well as the more traditional stem and foliage colour. The Fruit Fields at the garden boast over 2,000 trees, including more than 1,300 different fruit cultivars and almost 700 different varieties of apple. WEBSITE


BordeHill Gardens

Nestled in 200 acres of English Heritage listed Sussex parkland and woodland, Borde Hill is home to a nationally important collection of rare shrubs, champion trees and exotic plants, as well as distinctive garden features including the Azalea Ring and the Rose & Italian Gardens. It also offers wonderful views across the Sussex Weald and the magnificent Ouse Valley. WEBSITE

Long Border Great Dixter.

Great Dixter

Managed by the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, this was formerly the garden of Christopher Lloyd, with the house and garden having originally been designed by Edwin Lutyens. It is one of the most dynamic gardens in the country, with a wide variety of interest from topiary, wild flower meadows, the long border and exotic garden, providing a long period of interest throughout the year. WEBSITE

Cottage Garden at Rosemoor

RHS Rosemoor, Devon

RHS Garden Rosemoor is one of the UK’s best gardens, with its formal garden containing
several stunning features including the Hot and Spiral Gardens, Foliage and Plantsmans
Garden, and herbaceous borders.

The 65 acre garden is home to one of the UK’s best collection of roses, with a display of more than 2,000 plants and nearly 200 cultivars, in the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden and the Shrub Rose Garden. The Fruit and Vegetable Garden is a contrast to Lady Anne’s Garden with its eclectic collection of woody and exotic plants. WEBSITE

Abbotsbury Garden

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Dorset

Established almost 250 years ago, this magnificent 30 acre garden is filled with rare and
exotic plants from all over the world, including Mediterranean and Southern Hemisphere

The garden is world famous for its camellia groves and magnolias and noted in
Dorset for its rhododendron and hydrangea collections and the hillside walk with views of the Jurassic Coast. WEBSITE

A new heart for a garden in Denbigshire.

This stately garden design is part of a larger estate situaded in the rural landscape of Denbigshire in North Wales. This part of the estate between the stables and walled garden was almost hidden. The garden was in need of the new impulse that Andy Sturgeon gave to it. The British garden and landscape architect succeeded in giving this part of the estate a new glance.


Andy Sturgeon belongs to the top of garden and landscape architecture in Britain. Andy has many striking garden design with his signature on it. Many art designs are in his design for gardens most of them he designed himself. In most cases he uses wood, iron or lead.



He opened up vistas to connect the stables and walled garden and projected a water rill out to join with the existing gardens beyond.


denbigshire-04It was essential that this new garden respected both the architecture and the rural landscape and he chose to create a gravel garden that relied predominantly on planting.






Photography Helen Fickling

Flower bulb lasagna – Potful of Joy, Today’s Natural look and Wild beauty

Attention all gardeners!

You can enjoy the earliest flowers of spring even longer. How? By creating an appetizing flower bulb lasagna. But you don’t need the kitchen for this – it’s all done in the garden. The recipe is simple: plant various layers of flower bulbs one over another just like you do when making the famous Italian pasta casserole. This dish requires some time for all the flavors to come together, so start off in the fall. Next spring, you’ll be enjoying month after month of wonderful flowers when the various kinds of flower bulbs bloom in succession. Springtime on a platter!

Preparing your flower lasagna isn’t difficult. The ingredients you need are generously sized pots or a balcony container, hydroponic clay pebbles, potting compost and flower bulbs.

  • Make sure the bottom of the pot or balcony container has holes in it so that any excess water can drain away. Put a layer of the clay pebbles (or pot shards) on the bottom and then cover with a 4-inch layer of potting compost.
  • Next comes the first layer of bulbs. For a nice full display later, they can be planted almost side by side.
  • Cover this first layer with about 2.5 inches of potting compost and then plant the next layer. These bulbs can also be planted closely together, but leave a half inch or so between them for the young leaves to emerge.
  • Scatter potting compost over the second layer of bulbs and then plant the third and last layer. Finally, fill the pot up with potting compost.
  • Tamp the potting soil down a little and give the bulbs a nice drink of water.


Lasagna planting can also be done in the garden soil and will work just as well.

A potful of joy

Since flowers are available in every color of the rainbow, you can make your creation as cheerful as you want. To create your potful of joy, use these flower bulbs:

• Layer 1 (bottom layer): tulips (Tulipa) ‘Brilliant Star’, ‘Flaming Club’, ‘Orange Favourite’ and ‘Purple Dream’
• Layer 2 (middle layer): hyacinth (Hyacinthus) ‘Pink Pearl’, and daffodils (Narcissus) ‘Dick Wilden’, ‘February Gold’ and ‘Tahiti’
• Layer 3 (top layer): anemone (Anemone blanda) and crocuses (Crocus) ‘Grand Maitre’ and a mix of crocus species.


A potful of today’s natural look

Flower bulb lasagna is perfect for a luxurious setting that includes natural materials. Raw concrete and unfinished wood set off flowering bulbs to perfection. To create this potful of today’s natural look, use these flower bulbs:

• Layer 1 (bottom layer): tulips (Tulipa) ‘Black Parrot’, ‘Flaming Evita’, ‘Havran’, ‘Queen of Night’ and ‘Snow Crystal’
• Layer 2 (middle layer): hyacinths (Hyacinthus) ‘Carnegie’ and ‘White Pearl’ and daffodils (Narcissus) ‘Actaea’ and ‘Recurvus’
• Layer 3 (top layer): anemone (Anemone blanda) ‘Blue Shades’) and anemones (Anemone coronaria) ‘Mount Everest’ and ‘Bride’, dwarf iris (Iris reticulata) ‘Katharina Hodgkin’, checkered fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), crocus (Crocus) ‘Ard Schenk’ and glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa ‘Alba’)


Wild beauty without a pot

You don’t always need a pot to make a flower lasagna – this recipe will also work in the garden soil. All you need is a spot in the garden to put the layers of your lasagna together. To prepare your wild beauty without a pot, use the following flower bulbs:

• Layer 1 (bottom layer): tulips (Tulipa) ‘Boston’ and ‘Green Wave’
• Layer 2 (middle layer): hyacinth (Hyacinthus) ‘Blue Jacket’ and daffodils (Narcissus) ‘Ice King’ and ‘Sir Winston Churchill’
• Layer 3 (top layer): anemone (Anemone blanda) ‘Blue Shades’, anemone (Anemone coronaria) ‘Lord Lieutenant’, grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum), dwarf iris (Iris reticulata) ‘Harmony’ and Siberian squill (Scilla siberica)



Gardens at the Bank of Springfield by Adam Woodruff

adam 2The assignment that the Chief of the Bank of Springfield gave to Adam Woodruff was clear; the design must have a boldly impact on the streetscape. If Adam was succesfull in doing so you can judge for yourself,  in any case  the bank manager was more than satisfied if only for the many awards the gardens won and for the generous attention in the media.

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Adam Woodruff

Adam was educated at the University of Eastern Illinois where he earned a degree in botany. The greenhouses on the campus of the university were for him a second home, he was often to be found here and it was here where his love of tropical plants developed. Since 1995 he is engaged in garden and landscape design, but in the meantime continues to develop by traveling.

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These trips take him to Asia, the Yucatan Peninsula and Europe where he becomes especially inspired by Piet Oudolf who shares his knowledge with him about naturalistic planting schemes in which native plants find their way between shrubs and perennials. In his own country, Roy Diblik Wisconsin plantsmen gives him new insights into making planting designs.

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His designs have been featured in Horticulture magazine, Consumer Reports and St. Louis Magazine AT HOME; he has been published in Fine Gardening magazine, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and several trade journals; and he is a guest contributor to the Gardening Gone Wild and Designers on Design blogs.

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Piet Oudolf about Adam Woodruff;

“Adam Woodruff is a creative young designer, whom I first met in 2009. His work with tropical plants and more recent forays into naturalistic design confirm his talent. Adam is eager to learn about the way we see gardens today. He travels extensively for inspiration- touring gardens around the world, attending professional seminars and engaging with other leading designers.”

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Gardens at the Bank of Springfield

When the Bank of Springfield doubled the size of their flagship facility in central Illinois. Adam Woodruff + Associates was engaged to redesign the 3 acre site. The chief consideration of the design process was to boldly impact the streetscape. Woodruff designed naturalistic, yet vibrant flower borders scaled to the site to accomplish his goal.

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The award-winning gardens cover 22,000 square feet and include a massive perennial and annual bed running the length of the Wabash Avenue facade. Several auxiliary flower beds dot the property, echoing color and texture rhythms found in the main bed. Annuals, which represent 40% of the plant material found in the gardens, are artfully woven between shrubs, roses, grasses and perennials to insure consistent bloom.

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Noel Kingsbury’s Garden by Sergey Karepanov


After Sergey Karepanov visited The Netherlands he went to the UK where the private garden of Noel Kingsbury was the first on his list. Sergey is a great admirer of Noel Kingsbury and his garden was on his wish list for a long time.

Born and raised in Siberia Sergey grew up in the overwhelming nature of the Taiga and the Angara River, which runs through his city Bratsk. Sergey studied Theoretical Nuclear Physics.

With a great passion for nature, he later became a landscape and garden photographer.
 With a terrific technical photography knowledge and his eye for detail, but even more his natural and untouched style of photography Sergey now stands in a class of his own.

In Russia, Sergey is a contributor (both photo’s and text) to the leading garden magazines, and a co-author of prizewinning garden books he is widely recognized as the best landscape photographer. Sergey is also internationally recognized as a manifold IGPOTY (International Garden Photographer of the Year award) winner.

Since 1994 Noel Kingsbury has been one of the pioneers and innovators of Naturalistic/Ecological Garden Design (combining natives and non-natives, in combinations which would require minimal intervention from the gardener) , a way of gardening inspired by William Robinson who became famous with his Wild Garden(ing) back in 19th century.



A close association with planting ideas from Germany and Holland has been a central part of Noel’s life ever since. The whole field of ‘ecological planting design’ also drew him into working with the department of landscape at Sheffield University, a world centre for the integration of ecology, landscape and horticulture. In 2009 Noel was awarded a doctorate for his research on long-term perennial plant at Sheffield University.



Together with Piet Oudolf he wrote several books (Timber Press) on the subject of Naturalistic Gardening. Many of his books are also available as E-Books from his website.



Noel Kingsbury’s garden; Montpelier Cottage is a laboratory for many of his ideas and located in the Welsh Borders. He has been here since 2005. It is on a gentle south-facing slope on a very fertile soil with plentiful rain (up to 2metres a year). Its lush!


GRDN takes you on a tour to Noel’s garden through the lens of Sergey Karepanov.






The Pansy, Hardy, Happy and early

13186The pansy, they are every bit as hardy, with happy blooms that resemble a monkey’s face growing on slender stems amid attractive green foliage. Violas make an early appearance in the flower bed, poking up their heads as soon as daytime temperatures reach about 15.6 degrees Celsius. Versatile little flowers, violas thrive in a bed, hanging basket, window box or patio container, and are lovely in small cut-flower arrangements.

Plant violas by seed in partial shade or full sunlight during summer or autumn. Soil should be prepared in advance by cultivating to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Work in 2 to 3 inches of compost or manure to enrich the soil and improve drainage. Scatter the seeds on the ground and cover them with a light dusting of soil. If you prefer, plant viola bedding plants, available at garden centres or nurseries, in spring, after all danger of frost has passed.


Water violas in the morning or early afternoon so excess water will evaporate before evening. Water at ground level and avoid watering the foliage any more than necessary. Violas are drought-tolerant, but will benefit from about 1 inch of water every week during spring and summer.

Spread 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch around the violas, but be careful not to cover the plant. Shredded bark or grass clippings will retain moisture, keep the roots cool during hot weather and help to control weeds.

Fertilise violas about seven to 10 days after planting, using a general-purpose liquid fertiliser. Repeat in mid-summer. Pinch off wilted viola blooms so the plant will continue to bloom as long as possible. Cut the flowers for bouquets as often as desired.


Flower Bulbs – Enjoy the Glorious Bulb Flowers that Bloom in Spring

01-001It’s a fact of life: to enjoy the glorious bulb flowers that bloom in spring – such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and others – you must plant them in the autumn. That’s the hard fact. The fun fact is that nothing is easier to grow or more colourfully rewarding than flower bulbs.


Even the most unskilled gardener can create a breathtaking and beautiful spring garden with bulbs. Spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the autumn because they require a sustained “dormant” period of cold temperatures to stimulate root development. The only rule is that, spring-flowering bulbs must be planted before the first hard frost. It’s best to plant bulbs as soon as possible after bringing them home. If you must store them, keep them dry and cool – between 10 and 15 degrees (°C).


Tempting Choices

In addition to tulips and daffodils, you’ll also want to plant other exotic Dutch bulbs, such as spring-flowering Scilla, Puschkinia, Muscari, Fritillaria, Allium, Camassia, and Eremurus. Spring-flowering bulbs offer a wide variety of colours, heights and flowering periods.

Let your imagination run wild. Easy-to-grow bulbs allow you to concentrate on garden design. All you really need to learn about planning your garden is written on the package, or available from your bulb supplier. What you need to know is: the colour of the flower, which months it will bloom, how high it will grow, what month to plant, and how deep to plant.

By cutting out pictures from mail-order catalogues or booklets picked up at your local garden centre, you can plan your dream garden on paper right in your own living room! These are the keys to colourful and creative plantings around your home.


For annual, perennialised and naturalised plantings

Flower bulbs can be used in many different ways depending on the ultimate objective, here are some professional planting tips:
For annual plantings: this is usually the case when flower bulbs are used for a massive colour display. Good examples are flowerbeds planted with crocuses and tulips that flower successively, a sea of grape hyacinths, or long ribbon plantings of large-cupped daffodils.

Flower bulbs with bright colours such as red, yellow and blue are particularly suited for this purpose.
For perennialised flowering, spring-flowering bulbs are allowed to remain undisturbed in the ground after they have finished flowering. This gives their foliage the time to wither back and provide the bulbs with nutrients to prepare them for the next growing season. Spring-flowering bulbs used this way are actually following the same cycle as perennial plants. Usually, sp ring-flowering bulbs planted for this purpose are included in an existing border consisting of perennials, shrubs or roses.

Spring-flowering bulbs that can be used for multiple-year flowering include certain daffodil, tulip and hyacinth cultivars and a group of specialty bulbs. In this situation, it is essential to coordinate not only the colours of the flower bulbs among themselves but also the colours of the flower bulbs with the surrounding perennial plants.

For naturalised plantings:

Bulbs suitable for naturalising have just a little more to offer than the ones for multiple-year flowering. Like them, bulbs for naturalising also remain undisturbed after flowering and will come back again every year, but their added benefit is that their numbers will continue to increase as long as they have been planted under ideal conditions (light and air).

Naturalised bulbs can function as independent plantings – snowdrops and crocuses in lawns and grass-covered verges – but they can also be included in existing plantings such as in planting beds with groundcover plants beneath trees and shrubs. In these more natural-looking situations, glaring colours would be out of place; better here would be the more muted tones of pastel yellows, light blues and white. Narcissi, scillas and leucojums are examples of bulbs that will naturalise and look just right here.

How to?

Most spring-flowering Dutch bulbs will thrive in either full or partial sun, but do just fine in almost any location that offers good drainage. Bulbs will rot in standing water so avoid areas prone to flooding, such as the bottom of hills or under drainpipes.

After choosing the site:

Dig either a trench for a bed planting, or individual holes for individual bulbs or small cluster of bulbs. To determine how deep to plant, consider the calibre or size of the bulb. Large bulbs (5 cm or more) are usually planted about 15 cm deep; smaller-size bulbs (2.5 cm) are planted 7-10 cm deep.

Loosen the soil with a rake to aerate it and remove any weeds and small stones. Mix in a bit of peat moss to improve soil drainage. Place – do not push – bulbs firmly in the soil with the pointed side up. Space large bulbs 7-20 cm apart and small bulbs 3-7 cm apart. (If you’re not sure which end is right side up, don’t worry. Upside-down bulbs usually come up anyway!)

Cover the bulbs with soil and water generously, if the soil is not wet yet. Add 5-7 cm of mulch, pine bark is fine, on top of the garden bed. This will provide added protection from the cold and keeps the soil from drying out.
It’s as easy as 1-2-3. By following these simple guidelines, your colourful garden is sure to turn the neighbours green with envy. Basically it all boils down to: buy those bulbs, put them in the ground and dream all winter of the glorious spring that awaits you.

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If a bulb plant is to develop to its full potential, (come back and flower every spring) it must be provided with good growing conditions and a suitable niche in the garden where it can remain undisturbed without the need for its foliage to be prematurely removed.

It is important for bulbs to retain their foliage after bloom until the leaves die back naturally, and that they are able to enjoy an uninterrupted cold period.


In the lawn

Crocus, for example, will thrive for years if planted in manicured lawn with somewhat dry soil. But the foliage must be allowed to develop fully, the grass should not be mowed until the crocus leaves have died back. Even though the grass may still be dormant, there is always the urge to get out the mower and to cut off the foliage immediately after flowering is over, but this should be avoided.

The foliage must remain for the bulbs to re-charge themselves through photosynthesis. It is a small price to pay for the beauty and joy of the following year’s colourful spring display.

Once flowering is over, foliage develops more rapidly and often seeds are formed. For the majority of bulbs like Chionodoxa and Scilla it is important that they are allowed to mature and ripen naturally, for when distributed in moist rich soil they will germinate freely and rapidly enlarge the colony.


Not all bulbous, cormous and tuberous plants that are planted and then left to their own devices will be capable of providing the same fantastic flowering display year after year, or of increasing their numbers as well. Hyacinths and certain tulip varieties are not the best choices for naturalising; instead, they will have to be lifted at the end of each growing season and subjected to a special treatment in order to provide a beautiful profusion of flowers next season.

Findings generated by extensive research conducted in recent years has led us to the conclusion that many flower bulbs are suitable for perennialising only if planted in a sunny location. Included in these are the familiar crocuses, scillas, alliums and daffodils. But hyacinth cultivars such as ‘Pink Pearl’, ‘White Pearl’ and ‘Delfts Blauw’ will also perform very well. Among the tulips, the botanical cultivars developed from T. turkestanica, T. tarda, and T. linifolia, as well as T. greigii ‘Cape Cod’ and T. fosteriana ‘Candela’ will bloom year after year. Long-stemmed tulip cultivars such as ‘Ad Rem’, ‘Don Quichotte’, ‘Golden Apeldoorn’ and ‘Parade’ could also be included in this group.


There are many locations that can successfully accommodate flower bulbs. Ideally, plantings should be of sufficient size to make a viable display and situated in positions where they can be easily viewed from any angle. Large grassy areas are especially well-suited. In addition, broad mixed borders and shrub plantings all lend themselves to permanent bulb plantings.

A wooded area can be considerably enlivened by the addition of sweeping plantings of shade-loving species. (see candidates for naturalising)
Where a less natural-looking planting is appropriate, low, daisy-like Anemone blanda is available mixed or in separate colours of white, pink and blue, or Spanish bluebell can be used instead of the native species. In some cases the more alien species grow better than those which are native.
Soil cultivation

The soil must be carefully considered when planning to plant flower bulbs. Moisture and humus content as well as acidity or alkalinity (pH) all play an important part in the success of the venture. Drainage should be good and where the humus content is poor, the soil should be improved by the addition of well-rotted organic matter. Heavy loam and clay soils especially benefit from this treatment. The acidity/alkalinity (pH) of the soil should ideally be between 6 and 6.5. It can be increased by adding garden lime or lowered by the addition of peat (which has a very low pH of 4).

Most soils do not require special treatment in order to be suitable for perennialising bulbs. Of course, this is to some extent dependent upon the bulbs that you propose growing and the type of soil and conditions that prevail. Crocus, grape hyacinths and narcissi are particularly suitable for larger grassy areas such as medians, slopes and the areas in front of shrubs. They are very useful for extensive sites where it is possible to plant mechanically.


A customised fertilizing program keeps plants healthy and resistant to pathogens and pests and also cuts down on the use of chemical control agents. Proper fertilizing also ensures a good soil structure.

There is a choice of fertilizing agents:

Compost and manure.

These are organic fertilizing agents. As described previously, they are also effective in improving the soil.
Organic supplements that provide a complementary balance to organic fertilizing agents.
Compound mineral fertilizers
The type of fertilizing agent chosen depends on the kind of planting and the time at which the agent can be applied.


When flower bulbs and other plants increase their numbers entirely on their own, this is evidence that they are being provided with a habitat that simulates their natural habitat. In these situations, nature is in balance: the type of soil, its structure, and its drainage perfectly accommodate the needs of the plants. In such a balanced situation, the addition of a fertilising agent is not usually needed.

Sometimes, however, plants display certain symptoms (often visible in their leaves) that indicate a deficiency of a certain nutrient. This is when it would be advisable to apply organic supplements. Because these are organic, they are more suitable for the natural environment in which these plants are located.

Organic supplements correct specific deficiencies in plant nutrition supplied by organic fertilisers; examples of organic supplements are a phosphorus fertilizer and vinasse (a waste product from the food processing industry that is very high in potassium).

Finally, there are fertilisers that contain calcium such as marl (coral-algae calcium) that regulate the pH of the soil. If this type of supplement is used for flower bulbs, it should be applied immediately after flowering.


As a rule, mowing grass strips containing flower bulbs is not started until an average of 6 to 8 weeks after flowering. Grassy areas planted with flower bulbs can be mowed only after all the aerial parts of the bulbs have withered back. Some flower bulbs such as Chionodoxa, Scilla and Eranthis propagate by seed, so their seeds should get a chance to mature.


Guidelines for storing flower bulbs

This temperature storage chart has been drawn up for dry sales! Modified preparation temperatures can be
necessary for purposes of flower production in order to time the flowering periods

General remarks:

  • Storage temperatures apply to properly dried, clean products
  • For the forcing sector and for different planting and flowering periods, modified temperature treatments may be necessary
  • It may be important to ask the supplier about previously applied storage temperatures
  • A decreasing series of temperatures means that the highest temperature should be applied at the beginning of the storage period and that the lower temperatures should be applied towards planting time
  • For spring-flowering bulbs, we assume a storage period lasting to planting time (no later than mid-December and, in any case, before freezing winter temperatures set in
  • If we mention protecting from desiccation, it would be advisable to use a filling material, and this should be added to the packaging in any case
  • “Dry and ventilated” means to use ventilated packaging
  • Pay special attention to aphid control


R.H. = Relative Humidity

Storage method Temperature until planted °C Temperature until planted °F
Allium (large and small-flowering) dry and ventilated 23-20-17°C 72 – 68 – 63°F
Allium cernuum, flavum, carinatum, ursinum ventilated, protect from drying out 9-5°C 48 – 41°F
Amarcrinum dry and ventilated 5°C 41°F
Amaryllis belladonna dry and ventilated 5°C 41°F
Anemone blanda dry and ventilated, provide air circulation 17°C 63°F
Brimeura (syn. Hyacinthus amethystina) dry and ventilated 23-20°C 72 – 68°F
Camassia dry and ventilated 20-17°C 68 – 63°F
Chionodoxa dry and ventilated 23-20-17°C 72 – 68 – 63°F
Colchicum as cool as possible, deliver early 9-(2)°C 48 (35½)°F
Corydalis, cava, solida dry and ventilated 9°C 48°F
Crocus dry and ventilated 23-20-17°C 72 – 68 – 63°F
Crocus (autumn-flowering) dry and ventilated, deliver early 9°C 48°F
Eranthis dry and ventilated, prevent desiccation 9-5°C 48 – 41°F
Eremurus protect from drying out 17-9-5°C 63 – 48 – 41°F
Erythronium dens-canis protect from drying out 9-5°C 48 – 41°F
Erythronium (other varieties) susceptible to mechanical damage 17-9°C 63 – 48°F
Fritillaria imperialis ventilated, susceptible to mechanical damage 25-23-17°C 77 – 72 – 63°F
Fritillaria meleagris protect from drying out, provide air circulation 17-9°C 63 – 48°F
Fritillaria michailovskyi protect from drying out, provide moderate air circulation 17-9°C 63 – 48°F
Galanthus protect from drying out 17°C 63°F
Hippeastrum (syn. Amaryllis) dry and ventilated, 12 wks at 13 °C, then 5°C (56°F is preparation, 41°F is storage) 13-5°C 56 – 41°F
Hyacint (prepared) dry and ventilated 30-25-20-17°C 86 – 77 – 68 – 63°F
Hyacint (not prepared) dry and ventilated 25-20-17°C 77 – 68 – 63°F
Hyacinthoides (syn. Scilla campanulata) highly ventilated, susceptible to mechanical damage 20°C 68°F
Iris latifolia (syn. Iris anglica) dry and ventilated, control for aphids 20-17°C 68 – 63°F
Iris hollandica dry and ventilated (30)-25-20-17°C (86) – 77 – 68 – 63°F
Iris reticulata, danfordiae dry and ventilated 23°C 72°F
Ipheion uniflorum requires plenty of air circulation; store in shallow layers 20-17°C 68 – 63°F
Ixiolirion dry and ventilated 23-17°C 72 – 63°F
Ixia dry and ventilated 25-23°C 72 – 63°F
Leucojum aestivum dry and ventilated 20-17°C 68 – 63°F
Leucojum vernum protect from drying out 9-5°C 48 – 41°F
Muscari dry and ventilated 23-20°C 72 – 68°F
Narcis dry and ventilated 20-17°C 68 – 63°F
Ornithogalum (large-flowering), e.g. saundersiae, arabicum dry and ventilated 25-23°C 77 – 72°F
Ornithogalum (small-flowering) dry and ventilated 20-17°C 68 – 63°F
Oxalis adenophylla dry and ventilated 20-17°C 68 – 63°F
Puschkinia dry and ventilated 23-20-17°C 72 – 68 – 63°F
Scilla siberica dry and ventilated 25-23-20°C 77 – 72 – 68°F
Scilla peruviana dry and ventilated 23°C 72°F
Sparaxis dry and ventilated 25-23°c 77 – 68°F
Tulipa dry and ventilated 23-20-17°C 72 – 68 – 63°F
Triteleia (syn. Brodiaea) dry and ventilated 23°C 72°F 



Flower Bulbs – bring your own ray of sunshine inside

28393_1Why not bring your own ray of sunshine inside. With bulbs in pots, anyone can enjoy that rush of springtime – even when it’s chilly outside. In just a few simple steps, you can create colourful accents that might even make you think it’s summer.

Step 1: Shopping

Get going! It’s during winter that many garden centres and florists are once again stocking up on pretty new décor items. Christmas has disappeared from the scene, and it’s time for new ideas, new challenges. Select light-coloured pots and other accessories. This winter, there’s a trend toward materials with the weathered look of the seashore. Clean, bright, but gently worn! From January into April (and with a peak in early March), bulbs in pots are widely available. Choose bulbs that will look pretty together. Even if the bulbs aren’t yet displaying signs of their future appearance, the label will often give you a good hint. Remember to consider the size of the pots you’re buying.

Step 2: Location

Once inside, bulbs in pots will usually flower within 7 to 14 days. Naturally, the kind of plants you’ve chosen and the temperature in your home will be factors in this. Do remember, though, that bulbs like winter! If temperatures are warmer than 20°C, their aim is to shoot up, flower and wither as fast as possible. But you can delay this natural reaction by placing them where they will stay in the best condition so you can enjoy them longer. Not too warm!

Step 3: Planting

Some bulbs such as grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum), narcissi and crocuses are better transplanted as a whole cluster of bulbs. But bulbs such as hyacinths and tulips can be transplanted individually or can even be purchased as single bulbs in pots. Sometimes, it’s interesting to rinse off the roots and let the bulb grow over water alone. Since the bulbs have already stored all their nutrients under their tunic, all they need is water to turn this into growth energy.

Step 4: Enjoy!

The nice thing about bulbs in pots is that you can enjoy them for a couple o f weeks and then it will be time to create something new again. Time for more fun! Time to enjoy another pleasant little task involving making something special for your home.




Stone Edge Farm by Andrea Cochran

The predominantly flat, open site called for bold gestures to balance the strong forms of the architects studio. A trilogy of structures – observatory – spa – stone pyramid are grounded by linear forms.Continue reading “Stone Edge Farm by Andrea Cochran”