With Spring just around the corner it’s time this month to start thinking about additions you want to make to the garden this Summer, and one of the simplest ways to squeeze some extra colour into your borders is to plant Summer flowering bulbs. For the best displays, a little forward planning is required as the widest selections are available in the Garden Centre right now.
As the weather starts to warm up and soil temperatures rise in March and April then is the time to plant and as a rule of thumb most bulbs should be planted at 3 times their depth, but there are a few exceptions so check the packs for details. Generally most summer flowering bulbs such as Dahlias and Begonias enjoy a free draining, sunny position, however again there are a few that will enjoy some shade such as Lily of the valley, which will spread to form pretty ground cover in shallow soiled areas.
Top of our list for a flamboyant show of colour must be the stately Gladioli varieties, which in recent years have been considered a little “old Fashioned” but now have grown again in popularity due to their huge range of variety, bold displays and long flowering period. First introduced to Europe from Africa and Asia in around 1740 by travellers following the India trade route, Gladioli soon became popular with Botanists, and today there are over 10,000 registered cultivars making the Gladiolus a staple of Flower show benches.
The “Sword like” appearance of the foliage of these plants gives rise to their Latin name , taken from the Latin word Gladius, meaning sword and hence the association as flower of the Gladiators for the same reason. Gladioli make excellent cut flowers and are considered to symbolise honour and remembrance, strength of character and integrity. Traditionally these are the Flower given for 40th wedding Anniversaries and also the Birth Flower for August.
With blooms ranging from delicate Pastels through to Bold Yellows Reds and Purples, these make an impressive back drop to flowerbeds, and are easily planted in small groups between existing plants and shrubs were there is often little room for pot grow plants. Or try some of the Nanus varieties in rockeries and along the edge of borders where their dwarf compact habit can be used to full benefit.
Plant Gladioli around 10cm deep in groups in a sunny free draining spot and at 14-day intervals to extend their flowering season. They will also benefit from a sturdy stake, high potash feed such as Tomorite in the growing season and regular watering to enhance their blooms.
Whilst Gladioli are generally not frost tolerant and will sometimes survive with a thick mulching in Autumn the only guarantee for survival in our region is to lift and store once die back has occurred. However the relatively low cost of these show stopping plants makes them comparable to annual bedding plants and can supply you with an abundance of bouquets for your home all season long.
Happy Gardening from Eastfield Garden Centre