Friday, 15 March 2013

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow ...

This time last year I was creating a path in a sunny Spring garden with seventeen frogs seranading me from the pond and a harvest mouse in residence in the greenhouse.   

A year on and things are very different ... by the 25th March 2012 my garden was bursting with blossom .... buds are just beginning to appear now but I think we are about two weeks behind last year.

The greenhouse is full of seed trays (some of which are showing signs of life at last) and when I went to check on the heater earlier this week I discovered a large mound of freshly dug earth on the floor ... a brief inspection revealed a rather large hole under the staging ... has my sweet little harvest mouse piled on the pounds?  I doubt it. I smell a rat!  Where's that cat when I need her!

Well, the grape hyacinthes, minature irises and daffodils are gracing us with their presence. 

The snowdrops and hellebores are still flowering too, as are the primulas and periwinkle.


With Spring bulbs I have tended to plant them and leave them to mutiply by themselves but blogging has taught me a few things!  Let's begin with crocuses.  As you will probably know, they grow from corms.  Over the season the corm sends out the shoots, flowers and shrivels as the nutrients are used up.  Under the old corm a new one develops which will produce the following year's plant.  Around the edge of the new corm there are offset cormels which will also sprouts leaves in the first year and develop into full corm to flower the second year.  To assist propagation you need to dig up the plants after die back, separate the new corm to replant in the original position and plant the cormels in a nursery bed where they will grow to full size by Autumn ready to be transferred to another part of the garden.

Daffodils are easy to propagate as the bulbs divide themselves but did you know you can assist this process by scoring?  This involves lifting the bulb and making two cuts at right angles across the basal plate to a depth of about 5mm.  The bulb then needs to be kept in a warm place (about 21 degrees C) for 24 hours.  Dust with fungicide and place on a raised wire mesh or a tray of dry sand again in a warm place.  Within 3 months new bulbs will have developed on the cut surfaces.  Now you plant the parent bulb upside down so the new bulbs are just below the surface of the compost.   In March put the pot outside and the new bulbs will begin to develop while the parent bulb disintegrates so passing its nutrients to the young ones.  The new bulbs need another year before they will flower.  It sounds like a real faff but it produces 3 or 4 times more bulbs than leaving them to their own devices.

This is a good time to divide snowdrop clumps while they are still in the green.  Lift the bulbs very carefully and divide them into groups of three/four bulbs to replant around the garden.  In a couple of years these tiny clumps will have filled out ready to be divided again. 

Propagating Hellebores is a different matter as they are not grown from bulb.  I will leave you with this link which I found quite useful:

This post is linked to May Dreams Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. 


  1. Interesting post; quite informative. Shame about the out-of-focus, blurry pictures though!

  2. Spring is definitely arriving much later this year. My only blooms right now are snowdrops.

  3. Lovely colourful pictures of your early flowering bulbs and the yellow spotted Hellebore is a beauty. Last year everybody was complaining about the late frost which started medium February, but look at this year, the winter has been much longer. Today is the first day in a week without snow and minus C.temperatures, we have rain. We have made progress.

  4. I didn't know any of those facts about bulbs - so thanks for the enlightenment!
    Your little pot of Muscari really makes a statement.