SPRING BEDDING PLANTS

WALLFLOWERS These will be sown in June or July in the reserve garden in rows. 300 mm (1 ft) apart. Thin the plants out early and transplant them 300 mm (1 ft) apart.

Pinch the tip of the main growth out to make the plants bushy. Hoe regularly throughout the summer. There are dwarf wallflowers 225 mm (9 in) high and taller ones like Fire King, 375 mm (15 in); Primrose Monarch 450 mm (18 in); and Blood Red, 375 mm (15 in).

The Siberian Wallflower or Cheiranthus allionii grows 300 mm (12 in) high. It is bright orange and is very popular. It is usually sown in July as if sown earlier it tends to bloom in the autumn.

There are double wallflowers but they are not quite hardy and are usually propagated by cuttings taken in August. As they are heavy and need staking they are not so popular as the ordinary varieties.

Remember all wallflowers need lime as they are subject to Club Root Disease.

FORGET-ME-NOTS These have the advantage of flourishing in shade and will even do well under trees. There are varieties that differ in height from 150 to 300 mm (6 to 12 in) and the colours vary from deep to pale blue. Sow in June or July in a shady border in rows 225 mm (9 in) apart. Thin out to this distance, and as a result you ought to get good plants to put out into flower beds in September or October. Royal Blue is 300 mm (2 in) high; Marine, 225 mm (9 in) high.

AUBRIETIA Very useful for carpeting the ground. Looks very lovely with bulbs. Can be had in mauve, blue or crimson. Usually propagated by cuttings taken in August I in a cold frame. Aubrietia prefers a dry position in full sun. Good varieties are Dr Mules, a purple, and Fire King, a crimson.

DOUBLE ARABIS Grows 150 mm (6 in) high. Succeeds well in light soil. Propagate in light soil by cuttings in August. On heavier soil take cuttings in June or July. There is a variegated variety with striped yellow leaves but it is less robust than the normal kind. POLYANTHUS Quite lovely in beds alone, or can be interplanted with bulbs. They bloom in April and May. Can be propagated by seed sown in a frame or under cloches in February, the plants being pricked out in a reserve border in April 225 mm (9 in) apart. After flowering, the plants may be taken up and pulled to pieces and planted in the reserve 225 mm (9 in) apart. They then make quite good plants for next autumn’s bedding out. The Munstead strain is very good.

COLOURED PRIMROSES Propagate as for polyanthus. Never discard weak-looking plants. They often throw the best colours. Blackmore and Langdon have a very good strain.

DOUBLE DAISIES Make compact dwarf plants good for an edging. They are hungry feeders and tend to starve the ground in which they grow. Sow in May or June in a warm sunny border. Prick out 150 mm (6 in) apart and plant out in flowering beds in the autumn for blooming in the spring. After flowering they may be split up for planting in the reserve.

YELLOW ALYSSUM Grows 200 mm (8 in) high and has greyish green leaves with lovely yellow flowers. Propagate by seed sown in April and in the Reserve. Flowers rather late and very useful for growing under late flowering tulips.

WINTER FLOWERING PANSIES Can be had in colours white, yellow and blue. Sow seed in July, plant in main beds in autumn. Should flower through a mild winter as well as giving a good display in the spring.

THE ‘IN-BETWEEN’ BEDDING

Plants too late for Spring Bedding but a little too early for summer bedding.

SWEET WILLIAMS Usually sown in May in a nice seed bed and then pricked out 225 mm (9 in) square in the reserve plot. The plants are then put out in their flowering beds in the autumn or early spring. They are in flower in May and early June. They can be had in pink, crimson, or magenta, with or without white eyes. Grow 150 mm (18 in) high. After flowering the plants should be thrown on to the compost heap.

CANTERBURY BELLS Sow early in May as advised for Sweet Williams. Thin and plant out in the reserve plot 300 mm (1 ft) apart. In the normal way they are rather tall for bedding, often growing 1 m (3 ft) in height. They will however, put up with shade. It is possible to get single, double cup and saucer varieties in shades of pink, mauve or white. Tall plants need staking.

Bulbs Suitable for Spring Bedding

As far as beds and bedding are concerned they can be used by themselves or better still, with carpeting plants below them. I have sometimes used hyacinths, anemones and chionodoxas as permanent bedding bulbs. They have to be planted fairly deeply so that the shallow rooting summer flowering plants can grow quite well over the top, and round about them. Be sure to plant all the bulbs the same depth so that they all flower together. The best bulbs to use for bedding are:

TULIPS Early and late flowering singles and doubles for April. Single May flowering, cottage and Darwins for May.

Aim to plant in October; remove after flowering and plant in reserve till foliage dies down.

NARCISSUS This includes all daffodils and narcissus.

Plant in September, as root action starts early.

ANEMONE Useful for carpeting under more permanent shrub bedding.

CHIONODOXAS Grows 175 mm (7 in) high. A beautiful blue.

CROCUS Usually used as edgings. Can be planted with pinks and violas to flower over them.

SCILLAS and MUSCARI Useful under more permanent shrub bedding. Glorious blue.

HYACINTHS Look better planted close together, 150 to 225 mm (6 to 9 in) apart so that they hold each other up.

Single hyacinths are better than doubles. Buy medium size bulbs which will produce one good bloom.

IRISES Dutch, colours blue, white and yellow. Flower mid to end May. Spanish, yellow, orange, bronze, blue, purple. Flower end May early June. English, blue, mauve, white, purple. Flower early June.

Suggested Forms of ‘Shrub’ Spring Bedders When dealing with bulbs, reference has been made to the more permanent shrub bedding. Any of the flowering shrubs may be used for this purpose, with the bulbs acting as carpeters beneath. Buy the dwarf varieties of the shrubs mentioned. Any good nurseryman will advise and help you in this matter.

Azaleas, Daphnes, Hamamelis, Baby Rhododendrons, Flowering Cherries.

Spring Bedding Schemes I Have Admired 1. A single yellow tulip carpeted with Forget-me-nots. 2. A bronzy-purple tulip carpeted with a reddy bronze Wallflower. 3. A double early tulip carpeted with a purple Aubrieta. 4. Good pink hyacinths carpeted with white flowered winter flowering pansies.

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