I planted 100 tulip bulbs last week. 'At the end of June?' you might exclaim. 'Thats far too late?'
Not for me. I always plant my bulbs late, and they come up and flower in spring just like everybody elses.
My small prairie style garden is so thickly planted with perennials and grasses that even at bulb planting time in Autumn, it's impossible to see where there could be be spaces for any bulbs.
I must wait until this abundance has gone before I can see where to fit in bulbs. As I no longer do the big autumn clean up in order to appease my tidy mind, decaying foliage is allowed to linger through winter and the garden to die back in it's own time. I've grown to like a bit of messiness, and am learning to appreciate not only autumn seedheads but also the structure and shapes of last summers detritus. I merely snip away a little bit here and there when something looks too dreary - like frosted droopy Dahlia foliage. That way the winter clean up is a gradual process, which can last through to at least the shortest day or even spring.
While Dahlia foliage looks sad and droopy, the seedheads of the Lychnis chaledonica 'Maltese Cross' are golden and beautiful adding height to the garden on their tall bare stems. Canna lily foliage (see pic). too, adds height and structure to the fading garden with it's tan-brown crispy foliage. I shall enjoy that for a while yet before cutting it back.
So it's not until the garden finally begins to look empty (see below), when most of last summers detritus as been cut back, that I can see spaces to plant the bulbs. Even then it will be difficult because beneath this apparently bare earth, there are tufty fibrous roots from summer flowering perennials which I must squeeze the bulbs between. Also I have to try and dodge lily bulbs and tulip bulbs which have survived from last year all hiding themselves below the ground. The new bulbs could easily find themselves planted over the top of last years bulbs or even worse, sliced in half by my trowel, probing and digging around trying to find space for a new bulb.
In this garden behind the cottage I have planted together 25 'Ronaldo' which are a rich dark burgundy tulip and 25 Pink Diamond, a soft pale pink tulip which should complement the claret, pinks and blue colours of this garden.
But it's quite a different story for the front garden - see below. Here I have planted 50 'Temples Favourite' - a perfect tulip for my prairie style garden because it's tall strong stems will force their way up through the grasses, and it's large orange blooms sing with the bronze Carex buchananii
I AM A GARDENER, GARDEN WRITER AND ARTIST. AFTER SEVERAL YEARS WRITING REGULARLY AS A COLUMNIST I HAVE MISSED WRITING ABOUT MY GARDEN, OTHER GARDENS AND GARDENS IN GENERAL FOR THE GARDEN PAGES OF THE PRESS SO HAVE RESOLVED TO SET UP MY OWN BLOG AND WEBSITE.