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  • Tim Woodland

planting and growing autumn bulbs

Tim Woodland has been employed in Horticulture over the last 30 years and has been involved in all aspects of the production of daffodils and the purchasing of Dutch bulbs. He supplies bulbs to many UK companies including Stewart’s, Abbey and online,

To maintain our bulbs in their best health, Tim stressed that we should be feeding them when they are in the leaf and flower stages with potash and phosphate. Blind daffodils might be able to be brought back into flower with food, however he suggested that it might be best to dig them up and to check if they are overcrowded, then the biggest, strongest bulbs can be replanted.

There are 20,000 different varieties of daffodil. Holland produce most of the dwarf varieties of daffodils, however the biggest producers in the UK are in Cornwall for growing bulbs and producing 20 million stem flowers which must be hand-picked for sale. Daffodil bulbs double in size over a 2-year period. Bulbs are available for flowering from January through ‘til May. Tim mentioned Barrenwyn as an early January flowering daffodil and also said that if we had experienced double daffodils falling over due to weak stems, don’t give up as new varieties are grown much stronger so we should try them again.

Tulips are generally not naturalising bulbs, so might not flower again, therefore its best to replant only the biggest bulbs for the following year. However, there are now Species Tulips that will naturalise, one mentioned was Tulip Little Beauty, which is a miniature, also Tulip Fire of Love which has more interest in the leaves.

Hyacinths flower in March and April but might only last for 2-3 years. There are prepared ones produced for indoor planting, in particular Christmas and Garden ones.

Alliums flower in May, June, and July. They are best planted in herbaceous borders due to their leaves deteriorating.

Camassia are great for less fertile gardens. Flowering in May, through grass or in wild areas.

Anemone Blanda grows well in the shade and compliments Muscari Peppermint.

Fritillaria like damp soil, with different varieties for sun and shade.

Eremucus, commonly known as foxtail lilies, like a sunny position and grow 3-4ft tall, coming back each year in July and August.

Trilliums are ideal plants for the damp shade.

Erythronium are excellent woodlands plants in semi shade.

Corydalis are becoming more popular again, best planted in shade in well-drained soil.

Tim finished his talk explaining the difference in bulb prices in different retailers. Often when we are attracted to cheaper priced packs, the bulbs are likely to be smaller with fewer bulbs in the packs.

Sue Edgington


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