Friday, 6 April 2012

Impulse shopping - tender summer bulbs and rhizomes

I was supposed to be going out of town for the long weekend, but my travelling companion has been struck down with tummy trots, so the plans had to be postponed.  As an alternative, I thought I should make a trip up to Plantworld, just to get some potting compost and a few peat pots.  It's a nice sunny day and the trip was a pleasant one, but as is always the case when I go to the garden centre, I can't seem to leave with just the items on my shopping list.  I did buy the potting compost, but thought better of the peat pots (I have more plastic pots at home than I know what to do with so it seems silly to buy more).  I also came home with a few more spontaneous purchases:
  • one flat of mixed blue & white pansies
  • a lovely "Pink Frost" hellebore, which was on sale and therefore too good to be passed over!
Pink Frost hellebore (
  • a bleeding heart, again on sale, and although I've always loved them, have never had one in my garden.  Not sure if I will curse myself later, as I know they can get weedy looking after flowering.
  • A new pair of gardening gloves (which are truly needed - worn holes in my other pair).  I got a pair of "Toughguy" reflection on myself.
  • more dahlia tubers - this time, Bishop of Oxford.  I had already bought 2 Arabian Night dahlias a few weeks ago, again on impulse.  They are planted up in pots and growing nicely, waiting to be planted out later in May.  I haven't grown dahlias in a few years, but did have a Bishop of Llandaff for many years which I diligently brought through several winters.   It was a beauty, but if always got too tall and I was forced to put it in a place at the back of my garden, to accommodate the height, but it never got enough sun to do it's best.
Bishop of Llandaff (

After the mixed success of the pots of summer bulbs last year (crinums that flowered for a grand total of 2 days were a frustration), I thought I'd re-try the experiment, this time with Nerine, or Guernsey Lily (which although tender, I remember growing quite well in sunny, sheltered spots in Aberdeenshire).  I've selected the variety Kodora, which looks to be a salmony, red colour.

I've also plumped for two varieties of Cannas, a scarlet one called "The President" and a hot pink one called "Rhodos".  I haven't grown cannas for many years, and the last ones I had only ever produced huge, variegated, sun-sensitive (i.e. easily scorched) leaves, but no flowers.  Hopefully the varieties I've just selected will do better!

Canna "Rhodos" (Netherland Bulb Company)

Canna "The President" (
You can see that there is a hot and fiery trend to all of these selection.  I was re-watching some of Carol Klein's "Life in a Cottage Garden" and was smitten by her infectious enthusiasm for her hot borders, with fiery reds, oranges and yellows.  Last year, big patches of rudbeckia had taken over one side of my garden, and although they were spectacular, they need some other hot summer companions to spice things up and keep them company in the searing late summer days.  Hopefully all of the plants above will do just that.

Last years sea of rudbeckias.....needs a bit of spice this year!


  1. Hello:
    We have been most intrigued to read this post having in the past for twenty-five, or more years, gardened seriously in Herefordshire. Your trip to the garden centre has, indeed, resulted in some interesting purchases.

    The hellebore looks wonderful. But aren't they all. At one time we knew Helen Ballard who was, of course, responsible for breeding many well known hybrids in her Worcestershire garden. Alas long dead.

    Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' is, as you say, marvellous and one which, like you, we grew in our hot borders for several years. We have never had D. 'Bishop of Oxford' but it certainly looks vibrant.

    Cannas, rather surprisingly, are used here in Hungary extensively as summer bedding. We have never seen them growing so well anywhere else.

    Carol Klein is that rare breed in that she is a true plantswoman and, as you may well know, to meet her is to experience enormous fun.

  2. What a day for you! Regarding the dicentra, they DO get weedy looking after flower and start to dies back. I have anemones planted around my dicentra and they start to take over once the dicentra dies back. Just cut back the dead bits and then when until they reappear next spring.

    Have a great weekend!


  3. Hi Donald
    Wow!! I may have to make a trip into the "Big Smoke" (Toronto) to visit Plantworld. What fantastic plants you got! I too tend to purchase many a plant that somehow is not on my list :) You got great stuff - can't wait to see pictures of those Dahlias when they bloom! Astrid