February’s flower is the Iris. reticulata ‘Katherine Hodgkin’…
Iridescent in the low winter light and a lovely companion for the unusual alpine Narcissus ‘Van Winkle’ or N.cyclamineus both shown here and both perfect for an eye-level planting scheme near your door so you can greet them in the cold days in which they bloom.
I wanted to showcase a bulb this month not only as there is nothing more life-affirming, especially for gardeners in the winter than the sure return of the flowering bulb. We all need springtime snowdrops and daffodils. But also this is the time to tend to your perennial bulbs with a fertiliser application high in phosphorous such as blood, fish and bone which is nutrient targeted for root growth and energy storage, just what bulbs need.
The questions that are often raised about bulbs usually have to do with year on year performance. Freshly bought bulbs will have been primed by the nurserymen and women that grew them and flower even if placed on top of the pot for instance the Tete a Tete’s you may buy this month or Hyacinths. But they need a certain depth in replanting for repeat flowering and the rule of thumb is three times the depth of the bulb. But more than that it is sensible to dress the soil with the aforementioned fertiliser whilst the bulb is in active growth. Some bulbs do the work of energy-storing before they flower: Grape Hyacinth, some after such as Daffodils. If you observe when the leaves appear that is the indicator as we know the leaves are the photosynthetic factory of the plant.
A point of note: reticulata means netted and this is descriptive of the detail on the casing of the bulb which is like a delicate weave or even a string vest. If this casting is removed the bulb is no longer viable. Well on these chilly days it is advisable to keep your vest on after all!
With love, Lucie xx
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