Grape hyacinths

Grape hyacinthGrape hyacinthMuscari grape hyacinth
I do love grape hyacinths, and any beginner gardener or home florist should get to love them too. These plants are bullet-proof; in fact in the right conditions they may become a little invasive. But all the more to pick for the vase, right?

Grape-like clusters of bright blue or (less common) yellow or white flowers give this plant its common name. The flowers appear in early spring and naturalise readily, producing fine blue carpets beneath trees and shrubs. They grow in sun or part shade, but in hot areas they need protection from the midday sun.

Flowers start to decline when bulbs become overcrowded, so if that’s the case, dig up clumps, divide them and replant them around your garden. The bulbs themselves are planted in autumn, in rich, free-draining soil, 10cm deep and 5cm apart.

On show: anemones and ranunculi

Anemones and ranunculi
Anemones and ranunculi are some of my favourite blooms and if you planted yours early enough they should be in flower now. The top photo shows a rainbow of colourful ranunculi and the bottom shows a mix of purple anemones combined with white ranunculi, hydrangeas and blue tweedia. This gorgeous design (purple anemones) was created by the lovely Kiwi ladies from Roses Florists and photographed by Lavara Photography. The top design is from the ever fabulous Style Me Pretty. If you didn’t get around to planting anemone and ranunculus bulbs earlier in the year, don’t worry. You can pick up some flowering plants from your local garden centre.

Plant Now: Tulips


Tulip bulbs can be removed from the fridge and planted out in the garden now. Gardeners in cooler areas don’t actually need to worry about chilling their bulbs, but those in warmer areas will get a better result after a period of chilling.

Plant bulbs about 10cm deep, or twice the depth of the height of the bulb (eg, if bulbs measure 5cm high, plant them 10cm deep). In warm areas you can plant as deep as 20cm, where the soil will be cooler. Plant in a sunny position in deep, rich, well-drained soil. Add slow-release fertiliser to the soil when planting.

This lovely image comes from Lovelie Greenie.

Plant for a spring fling

Spring flowers
Spring flowersspring flowersSpring flowers
I haven’t visited one of my favourite blogs, Saipua, for a while, but every time I go there it’s love at first site. How could you not love Sarah’s beautifully designed floral arrangements? Showing here is a profusion of spring blooms, and if you time your planting right, you can be cutting these lovely flowers from your garden in spring too. That means planting now. Last chance this month to plant anemones (the main ingredient here) and tulips, although you can, of course, buy these plants when in flower in spring (as early as winter for anemones).

Visit Saipua to see more lovely flowers and arrangements.

Loving the lilacs

Purple lilacs
Lilacs and celosiaLilacs and anemone
Lilacs are just so darn beautiful, it’s too bad I can’t grow them here in Auckland. But I can grow those fuzzy, brain-like celosia, as seen in the middle photo. It’s best to wait until spring to plant those though, otherwise they won’t survive the winter. I can also plant anemones like the sumptuous looking purple ones in the bottom photo. In fact, it’s your last chance to get these bulbs in the ground now. Get them in during the month of May and your anemones should flower for you in late winter/early spring.

These lovely images are from Design Sponge.

Plant Now: Anemones and Ranunculi

ranunculus; anemone; freesia, hellebore
Purple anemones
Anemones and ranunculi are my two favourite bulbs and it’s prime time for planting the corms (February to May). They’ll do better after a spell in the fridge though, so place the corms in a paper bag away from fruit and vegetables (ideally four weeks for ranunculi and six weeks for anemones). Then soak the corms for a few hours in tepid water before planting out. Plant anemones with the corms pointy side down. The claws of ranunculi should also be planted downwards. Both anemones and ranunculi are gluttons for food. Feed with a general purpose fertiliser once a month and keep well watered. Bulbs are in shops now, or look to specialist mailorder nurseries such as NZ Bulbs.

The above photos show purple anemones and dreamy white ranunculi.


Plant Now: Gladioli

Dame Everage must be pleased as punch that her beloved blooms are making a comeback. I once abhorred these flowers, but I’m slowing coming around. Today’s hybrids have gorgeous colours – rich purples, deep reds, lavenders, lime greens, rosy colours and the prettiest pastel pinks. There are bi-coloured blooms too – flowers with blotches, stripes or picotee edges – and a choice of ruffled, waved or frilled petals in large-flowering or petite forms.

Gladioli are excellent cut flowers and will bloom over several months if you stagger the planting. But the quality of flowers depends on the quality of the corms. Plump, high-neck corms with small root scars (at the base of the corm) produce far superior blooms than flat, wide corms with large root scars. So choose your corms by depth rather than width.

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Jeanette’s tulips

Earlier this year I ran a competition to give away ‘Peach Melba’ tulip bulbs. Jeanette from Nelson was one of the lucky winners, and she’s sent in some photos of the flowering results. Note the strawberry house in the background. Jeanette enlisted hubby to make this, based on my DIY (find step-by-step instructions here) that featured in NZ Gardener magazine. You can see her blog entry here. Well done Jeanette – and hubby!

Daffodils in a daze

Daffodil flowers

The poor daffs don’t know whether it’s winter or spring. Cool, then warm, then cool again – the weather and its silly shenanigans is coercing daffodils into flowering early. My ‘Erlicheer’ began blooming in May (my apple trees even put on another flush of flowers in March) and freesias began popping up in my friend’s garden last month too. At least this unseasonable display has given us some more blooms for the kitchen table. Like these gorgeous daffs shown here, from the ever-inspiring Little Flower School.

Plant Now: Lilies

Lily Tiger Edition

For a fragrant and luxurious treat, you can’t go wrong with lilies. These summer flowers are among the loveliest bulbs, with their elegant, trumpet-shaped blooms that are spectacularly showy in the garden and long-lasting in a vase. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from and the bulbs are in garden centres now. They require chilling for flower development in summer, so the cool ground between May and September is the perfect time for planting. But get them in the ground as soon as you bring them home. Lily bulbs have no outer papery layer so they’re prone to drying out.

Lilium varieties
There are three main types that are commonly available in shops. Asiastic lilies, Trumpet lilies and Oriental lilies. Asiatics are the first to flower from late November or December, but their showy blooms are unscented. Trumpet lilies are next, just in time for Christmas. Then come the Orientals, sometimes from December but usually January to March.  [Read more…]