Bulbs for a table centre-piece in Spring

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An Article By Colin Hewitt

If you want an attractive table centre-piece for the Easter period then winter around November / December is the time to start planting. I generally grow a single species for maximum impact in a pan. A pan being a plant pot which is wider than it is tall.

For a table centre-piece you would want a pan about 10 inches wide and 4 inches deep. On the market now are some which are painted on the outside or you could choose a more traditional terracotta pan, whichever you choose make sure you have a pot saucer or dish to stand it on when it comes to be placed
on the table, this prevents damage to any furniture.

To create this container follow the steps detailed below:

  1. Choose your variety of bulbs; I use Tete-a-Tete or Minnow variety of daffodil whilst say for a tulip bowl you would need tulip species such as Tulipa Albion Star (White with a hint of pink), Bakeri Lilac Wonder (Pink with yellow at the base of the petals) or Buddy (White with a vertical red stripe, very striking in a pot en-mass) all are about 6 inches tall so will be in proportion to the pan they are grown in.
  2. Prepare the compost mix before planting; you can use proprietary mixes such as a bulb booster or a tub and container mix, these have feed in already and some will feed your bulbs for up to 6 months, check the details on the compost bag of your choice. Before you add it to the container I always break up any lumps that have formed during packing so that the bulbs are planted into a loose and friable mix.
  3. Next get your container and make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom as a bulbs worse enemy is waterlogged compost. Then I add about half an inch of horticultural grit across the bottom of the pan for drainage. This is used instead of the usual ‘crocks’ to get an even cover across the container which ‘crocks’ don’t always achieve.
  4. Half fill the pan with the compost and then place the bulbs evenly across the surface making sure they are about an inch to one and a half inches apart. Then carefully cover the bulbs with the rest of the compost mix so that the surface is about one inch below the rim. Next gently firm the surface and cover with either more horticultural grit to about half an inch below the rim or cover with sphagnum moss. This acts as a mulch to retain the moisture in the compost and prevent it drying out too quickly and it also stops the growing plants getting splashed with compost when watering.
  5. Lastly place the planted pan in a frost free area such as in a frost proof greenhouse or conservatory until it is ready for displaying on your table. Once the bulbs are showing leaf growth check the pan to see if it needs watering every few days, it should only need frequent watering once the display has been brought into the warmth of the house.

Top Jobs For February

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Top ten jobs for February.

  • Prepare vegetable seed beds, and sow some vegetables under cover.
  • Chit potato tubers. 
  • Still protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches.
  • Net fruit and vegetable crops to keep the birds off.
  • Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.
  • Divide bulbs such as snowdrops, and plant those that need planting ‘in the green’.
  • Prune Wisteria
  • Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges.
  • Cut back deciduous grasses left uncut over the winter.
  • Check your glasshouse insulation is still secure for the remainder of the cold weather.

Top Jobs For January

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Top jobs for January.  

  • Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch.
  • Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days.
  • Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already but only if the soil is in a good condition, i.e. No frost in the top inch of soil and not wet and sticky, especially as we have clay around here.
  • Repair and re-shape lawn edges.
  • Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out.
  • Prune apple and pear trees but not if the branches are frozen.
  • Start forcing rhubarb.
  • Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season. 
  • Prepare a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect them from peach leaf curl, especially if espaliered against a wall.
  • Monitor the water level of your pond, as hard frosts can cause defects in the liner and in concrete structures. If the water level drops considerably, then it may have developed a leak. Be sure to keep it topped up until repairs can be carried out in the spring.  
  • Rake out fallen leaves or shake off those that have gathered on protective netting.