The Garden in Winter…

Waking up on a cold, frosty and foggy morning here reminded me I had some frosty shots of our garden that I took a few weeks ago to share with you all. One of the reasons I chose the style of planting that we went for in our garden is that part of the intention when planning is to choose plants that have striking form in the winter months. They might have fabulous seed pods or just hold their shape in the early winter and I happen to think that there is nothing more beautiful than frost coated flower heads in the depths of winter, with the low sunlight streaming across the garden. I was fascinated to see how my planting turned out in this respect and I’m pretty happy!

In fact it’s actually time now to start chopping down the old dead stalks and seed heads ready for the new growth to come through and generally tidy up the garden. It’s also a great time to prune your shrubs if they are getting out of hand. (You can’t really go wrong doing it now but if you prune them hard and they are the kind of plants that flower early on last years wood, you might sacrifice this years flowers.) If you want to be really brutal and reclaim your garden you can chop them by 2/3!

If you would like some winter form in your Garden, here are some plants to look out for that have featured in these pictures:

  • Rudbeckia and Echinacea
  • Sedum
  • Monarda
  • Verbena
  • Verbascum

And of course grasses 🙂 (the pale floaty one you can see here is called Stipa Tenuissima – plant it in swathes of 5 or more for a mass effect.)

It’s also a good time to look at your garden and see where the bare patches are. Now is the time to think about putting something there that would look good at this time of year – something with berries, an early flowering blossom or shrub, or with interesting coloured branches. And if you (like me) are wishing you had got around to planting some bulbs last autumn, go and pick a few up at the local garden centre, ready potted and put them in for instant colour.

Happy gardening readers!

Rebecca x

The Garden: After

As the Autumn is in full swing, I thought I’d share the picture of my finished garden, probably as good as it’s going to get before everything starts to die off for the winter. As you can see if you look back at my last post, the plants have filled out dramatically.

I absolutely love it. If we left this house I would miss the garden more than anything I think.

Before we start, some obligatory before and after shots – the ‘before’s’ with the garage are from the beginning of May and the photos in this post were taken in mid September, so its has really changed massively in less than 5 short months.

I am SO glad we got rid of the garage. Of course we have the luxury of a cellar to store ‘stuff’ in but in all honesty it’s a few garden tools and a lawnmower. nothing a shed couldn’t have handled and it has been so worth it for the extra space in a small garden.

The only thing that is different other than the planting in these pictures from the last post is that we finally finished off the decking with a glass and steel balcony to protect the edges. I think lots of people think we are mad having such a big open stepped area down but it was an integral part for me of keeping the deck a part of the garden, rather than two areas, and due to the cellars there would always be a drop from stepping out of the house, down to the garden. short of a ramp, nothing would have been ‘safe’ for Bea.

I have a ton of pictures to share so I’m going to split this post into two. There will be more tomorrow with the detail of the design and planting. Once again, the design and landscaping was all by Iain at Outer Space Lanscapes and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him again – he was brilliant to work with, hardworking and did an amazing job. In fact we will be asking him to re-landscape the front garden in the future. I will just share the vegetable area of the garden today.

Some of you may remember we had an allotment before we moved and gave it up knowing the house would take up our time, that we planned a family and that we hoped to grow some veg in the new garden. I asked for some custom designed raised vegetable beds to be incorporated in to the design and space for a greenhouse, and I’m so glad we did. I love pottering in my working corner of the garden but it looks just as good as the rest of it!

I wanted a wooden greenhouse but they are so expensive and eventually we found this tiny one online. It was less than half the price of most as it is untreated, meaning we had to protect it with a stain and protect product but I wanted to Paint it anyway so it was not great loss. It’s also got plastic windows which I wasn’t that thrilled about, but painted up, I love it. It still has some of the green plastic film on the windows in these pictures and the inside needs painting still too, but it has been fab for growing in and we had our first tomatoes in there this year.

For the veg beds we concentrated on stuff we would use, that crops heavily and in a short space. 2 courgette plants kept us fed for the whole summer, we grew salad leaves, runner beans, peas and broad beans. And I had a corner of sweet peas solely for cutting.

Come back tomorrow for some more photos of the planting and detail 🙂 Maybe I’ll periscope it when we get a sunny day!


The Southport Flower Show

Last weekend, I headed home to Southport and went back to something I used to do every year as a child, visiting the Southport Flower show. Jess wanted to get some garden inspiration but if you want to visit any of the Royal Horticultural Society shows (like the Chelsea Flower Show or Tatton Park for example) you have to be a member, which can really inflate the cost. As an alternative I suggested we visit the Southport Flower show.

The highlight of the show for me used to be the small garden design that is right at the entrance of the show so I thought I’d share those with any of you looking for some garden inspiration.

This rather modern (and Cheshire-set looking I thought) garden was the first prize winner. It’s a bit too stark for me, but I liked the furniture. I was actually quite disappointed by the gardens this year. They were smaller than I remembered but maybe thats a hazard of growing up, although when I later discussed it with a colleague who also went, she said they were no different to the big RHS shows.

Modern seemed to be the order of the day with sleek paving, square and rectangular planters and still water features amongst the paving. What I did like however was the soft planting which juxtaposed with the hard landscaping beautifully particularly in the bottom two images above.

This garden was completely different and designed for a shady garden full of evergreens and a woodland influence. It looked like a little fairy woodland escape.

One of the things I always take away from flower shows is something that I don’t think people really consider when planting their garden – colour theming. This ‘Cool Runnings’ inspired garden might be taking things a little too far with the resident bob sleigh team, but the Jamaican inspired colours of hot pinks, fiery red, oranges, purple and yellows all looked amazing together. I’m always inspired to make my own garden more colour themed as all the gardening greats did in their time!

Inside the various tents there are fantastic displays of plants from nurseries and specialist growers from all over the country. You can buy everything from a garden perennial to rare cacti. Unfortunately due to the wet weather the ground was sodden and flip flops did not make for easy navigation around the tents – better footwear next time!

We spent a considerable amount of time in the flower arranging tent chortling about the critique given by the judging panel to each entry – Stepford wives at dawn doesn’t even begin to describe the cutting criticism dished out to all who dared to enter!

There was even an amateur growers tent with tables of giant and prize vegetables which were amazing and stands of fragrant sweet peas we wanted to bury our noses in. After poo poo-ing the craft tent we were seduced by some gorgeous wool and alpaca blankets and I picked up a Barbour-esque short wax jacket for £38 after a bit of haggling. The birds of prey and food tent wasn’t a bad stop off either!

I’ve never been to a country fair although I imagine it would be a fun day out. Have you been to any fairs or flower shows that are worth a mention here?


Real Renovations: Garden Rescue!

Good afternoon readers! This afternoon we have to long awaited return of Jess, continuing her Real Renovations series… if you missed the first 4 instalments, you can catch up here. Jess has been absent whilst studying for her final postgraduate exams and because she hasn’t tooted her own trumpet enough here, I want to say a huge Congratulations to her for passing and finally having an exam free future! Thats not the only thing congratulations are in order for here as you’ll read… so I’ll hand you over to see what really is a real (and budget) makeover that I think you’ll all identify with.

So, it’s been quite a few months since my last post on Florence Finds, and Dan and I have been pretty busy, although I have to confess that not all of it has included DIY and house renovation. In November Dan and I got engaged while we were on holiday, and since then, instead of planning a wedding, I’ve been working and studying for postgraduate exams. So work on the house hasn’t been as extensive as I would have liked, although we have taken the opportunity to do some of the easier room makeovers which I’ll share over the next few months.

However, there is a ‘room’ that has changed dramatically in the last year, and that is the garden. Before we moved to the house, we lived in a flat with no outside space, and I really longed for a garden. Even as a child I have always enjoyed gardening, and it was always me, rather than my brother or sister, who wanted to help my parents in the garden or the allotment. I learnt then the satisfaction from seeing something grow that you have looked after, and I remember being especially, if not a bit inappropriately, proud when I grew cacti from seeds when I was about 7 years old!

But as is so often the case, the reality has been a little bit different from our expectations! We knew when we bought the house that the garden had been neglected and was quite overgrown, but hadn’t appreciated just how much work would be involved in sorting it out. There were two ancient ivy plants at the back of the garden that had been left to run wild, as well as a honeysuckle that had become so overgrown that it was taking up about a third of the garden and had ripped a fence panel down. To add to that was a strange raised gravel area and a thorny pyracantha bush with its inch long spikes that was out of control.

So last summer, I took a week off work and enlisted the help of my mum to tackle the jungle that was our back garden. I don’t know how many bags we filled, or how many trips to the local rubbish tip we made, but it was a lot! We snipped, chipped, pruned, sawed and dug out just about everything that week. The pyrancantha didn’t give up without a fight either, as its parting shot was a thorn through my foot reminding me that real gardeners don’t wear flip flops whilst digging! Dan spent most evenings for the rest of the summer digging out sand and gravel from the raised area in order to level it with the rest of the lawn. The ivy was about the only survivor that week, but its time came too and Dan has been tackling it in stages over the last few months.

By the time October came we were looking out over a very bare garden, and just about the only pretty thing in it was a David Austin rose called ‘Darcy Bussell’ that friend had bought us as a housewarming gift, and I had planted in a big pot. So with winter approaching, we decided to go with a quick fix and sow grass seed across the bare soil. We hoped it would avoid the garden becoming a mud pit over the winter. I think the neighbours all thought we were mad at this point because the garden looked more like an agricultural field than a suburban garden. And when we returned from our holiday in mid november and saw a greenish tinge over the soil, we had to look closely to see if it was moss growing on the boggy soil, or actually tiny grass shoots. Thankfully it was the latter and we were just as surprised as the neighbours that our thrifty B&Q value lawn seed had actually grown!

We didn’t really touch the garden over winter, instead watching anxiously as those little green shoots grew taller and thicker. As spring arrived we started to make some changes and I was eventually able to start planting. Dan was keen to have a vegetable patch so we took up the grass along one side of the garden and prepared the ground ready for some vegetables. In march I bought lots of vegetable seeds, and raised some in seed trays in the kitchen, and put others straight out in to the soil. Our mini allotment has now got peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroots, courgettes and squash. It would also have lots of cabbages and broccoli if it wasn’t for the nicely fattened up wood pigeon that has been having dinner parties with all his wood pigeon friends in my vegetable patch!

It is expensive starting garden from scratch, so to save money I’ve bought smaller plants for the borders from supermarkets as well as garden centres, and friends and neighbours have given us cuttings too. I’ve grown some flowers from seeds and its been really satisfying seeing them now are in full bloom! We also haven’t changed much of the hard landscaping, instead working with what we already had. It means that we have to be a bit more patient and there is no instant garden makeover, but it has been worth the hours we have spent on it. And over the last few months it has been a great break from revision/revision avoidance tactic to go into the garden and titivate!

I’m a self confessed novice when it comes to gardening, and just because you can grow a cactus aged 7 does not mean you will make all the right choices when it comes to planting your own garden aged 30! But I love the anticipation of seeing what thrives and grows and what doesn’t. Despite never normally eating radishes, I loved eating one that had been grown in my own garden, and I’m patiently awaiting the taste of one of my home grown tomatoes too. I have made plenty of mistakes in the garden this year (like leaving my cabbages uncovered for the wood pigeon!), and I’m pretty sure I’ll make many more. But all in all, I got exactly what I wanted from my garden this year, which is a space where I can sit when the sun shines (or even when it doesn’t), and a relaxing outside space where we can entertain family and friends. A home grown tomato that actually tastes good will just be a bonus!


The Allotment Diaries… May

It’s time I updated you on the allotment… fast becoming an allotment saga in our house for a multitude of reasons. May has been a wash out, not least because of the weather.

You might think that rain followed by sun is a good thing for plants, I certainly did. Surely lots of rain to help the seeds germinate and then sun to help them grow constitutes perfect conditions? Apparently not and thinking on, it’s not hard to see why. Rain would have been good, had it been accompanied by warmer weather, but sadly the lower than average temperatures didn’t signal to the seeds that it was time to germinate. Seeds need the ground to warm up you see, indicating the spring/summer growing season. Next thing was the sun baking the ground hard and although the warmth came, the poor seeds still couldn’t germinate as they had no moisture.

A view over all the allotments

Why am I waffling on about the intricacies of seed germination? Well, as a result of all that the allotment is a great big flop. Some things have done well and although not flourishing like they should be come mid-June, there’s a fair bit of growth going on. I’ve got broad beans at about a foot high and flowering already, but the runner beans have all been eaten by slugs. Ditto the peas, all but a single solitary plant that seems to have done well and is growing and looking a little lonely!

A view over all the allotments

Three rows of lettuce, spinach and salad leaves have produced little other than a few lettuces which I thinned out and re-spaced today. Hopefully they will survive but a bed of broccoli and cabbage, plus a row of pak choi has been decimated by slugs into oblivion. It’s so upsetting.

Broad beans on the left and onion rows on the right.

However, there have been some successes and even surprises. The potatoes are doing well and we have rows of onions that although in need of a good weed, have thrived. Last year my carrots failed to germinate as did the parsnips and not to be put off this year I bought pre-germinated trays of both round and traditional carrots, and parsnips. Planted out just over a month ago, they’re thriving too, with little orange carrot tops just showing above the surface of the soil.

My carrots

The raspberries are laden with fruit which is fattening up nicely, so I’ve made a mental note to net them off before the birds have a field day. Most successful of all though? The thing we pay least attention to and still grows rampant… the strawberry bed. Last year I planted 12 strawberry plants and could easily have quadrupled the amount of plants this year although I haven’t divided them, I did take several to a friend’s house where they are also doing well. If you’re in the mood to divide yours, just let the shoots they send off (called runners) touch the ground and pin them down. They will grow roots and then you can cut off the runner as the new plant has its own support system, and replant it wherever you like.

The strawberry bed, heavy with fruit waiting to ripen

It’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever had less success as a gardener than I have this year so far, but instead of giving up, I’ve planted more beans and peas in trays at home, along with a tray of beetroot and some purple sprouting broccoli to plant out when conditions are more conducive to success. We shall see. It’s never too late to try again.

So how is your garden growing?


How to plan your Garden

Believe it or not, before I wanted to be a Doctor, I wanted to be a landscape architect. It’s probably the years I watched my Dad re-landscape the gardens that we had in each house we moved to which rubbed off and I picked up a few hard-lanscaping skills too. Our current house is a terrace and came with a concreted over 4 x 4m square yard. Not terribly inspiring. Even so it was the first patch of outdoor space I had to call my own and I was determined to make my city garden somewhere peaceful and pretty. I thought I’d share some of the things that you need to take into consideration when doing the same, regardless of the size of space you’re looking at.

Live with it.
The worst thing you can do (and I would go so far as to extend this to the house, although to a lesser extent,) is to plan your garden without really knowing its character. Aside from the weather, Summer is a good time to plan, and it’s the time of year you will spend most time in the garden.

Parisian Patio
You need to figure out where the sun is and when, where the shady spots are, what you see from various views from the house and what you don’t want to see (that ugly wall or neighbour’s house?)

Make a list
Work out what you want from your garden. Everybodies priorities are different when it comes to the garden. If you’re young and without a family, you might want a party garden that works for outdoor gatherings, and area where you can put sun loungers.

Single sail over pink and orange cushions
You might want a pond or water feature, or not if you’re about to start a family or have young children. Keeping things low maintainenece might be key, you might want space for vegetables or you might want to plant an orchard. Do you need to site outside storage like a shed or new garage building?

Get real
How do the features you want really fit within your garden? If you try to make a garden do something that the characteristics of the site don’t naturally fit, you’ll create a nightmare in terms of maintenance and probably an eyesore as the plants won’t flourish.

Modern terrace
For example, a shady area by a wall won’t produce a spectacular floral display but can be equally beautiful with shade loving foliage plants giving a lush green appearance. Similarly, think carefully about the space you need for each feature. A garden table seating six needs not only the space for the table and surrounding chairs (when fully pushed back from the table,) but space around that to walk on so you’re not falling into a flower bed or onto the lawn.

Think about the practicalities…
This is the time to be practical too. Sometimes the area that catches the evening sun where you are planning to eat al fresco has to be at the bottom of the garden, but it’s much easier if you can to have cooking facilities like your BBQ near to the kitchen, so you’re not trekking back and forth while you have guests or on an impromptu night in.

Terrace with canopy
Does your shed or garage need to be alarmed and therefore also close to the house? Do you want a second eating area for lunch that is shaded from the midday sun? Consider the mundane like where you will store your bins and perhaps build compost heaps or site water storage butts for when hosepipe bans come along.

I hope these are helpful tips. Let me know if you’re renovating your garden and what your plans are. I’d love to share some real garden renovations in my real rooms series so if you have done anything lovely with your outside space, do send your pictures in. Perhaps I’ll share my own garden with you soon 🙂


Spring has Sprung!

Last week’s weather (I hope it was equally lovely where you are!) had me getting that feeling that I get every year as spring arrives, desperation to get into the garden. It’s been a while since I’ve covered any garden tips on the blog but that is definitely going to be changing over the coming weeks. There is loads to do right now and lots to think about in preparation for the (more consistent) warmer weather coming, so have a read and start thinking about what you want from your garden this year.

Today I’m focusing on the back (or front) garden and some spring plant suggestions as it’s a little cold to be getting stuck in at the allotment still, but keep your eyes peeled for more on that soon.

  • Now is a good time to have a really good clear out in the garden. Clear away any leaves from your flower beds and pack into bags or even better start thinking about making a compost heap for all your garden waste. Leaves make fabulous compost so it’s worth doing.
  • Lots of people prune in the autumn but I love seeing the frost on the dried seed heads and leaves so leave them. I also think it protects the plants well over the harsher winter months. Now however you should be starting to see signs of life out there and can tidy the plants too. Pull away the dead leaves from the bases of perennial plants, taking care not to damage any new shoots and leave them looking bare apart from the plants ‘crown’ – the base of the plant with its shoots etc. It will soon come to life with new growth.
  • Pruning is a bit of a mystery for some people, but it’s really not difficult and it’s hard to damage the plant unless you’re too aggressive. Remember, the plant always needs new leaves to start collecting energy to grow more so if you cut it right to the ground and all the new shoots are gone, it will struggle to re-grow. Always cut away any diseased or dead branches first.
  • Top Tip: If you’re not sure what is dead, (and let’s face it everything looks like that right now,) try bending the stem or branch. If it cracks easily and is dry inside it’s dead. If the branch is bendy and feels soft or starts to split but with green inside then it’s just dormant waiting for spring.
  • When you are pruning look at the stem or branch first. At intervals along its length you will see pairs of buds. Look for a really fat healthy pair and using secateurs, cut a couple of centimetres above the buds diagonally. You can trim most plants this way now with a few notable exceptions. Hydrangeas, some early flowering Clematis and Buddleias flower on ‘last year’s wood’ which means if you trim them now you’ll miss out on this year’s flowers. Wait until after they have flowered and tidy them up then. I also do my roses, including climbing ones, and anything that is getting out of hand really. Don’t be scared of pruning – as long as there is always a bud below where you have cut, the plant will come back. At worst you’ll miss a season’s flowers.
  • Lastly, get planning. Spend the few remaining dark nights with a book or the internet as a reference and start thinking about what you want from your garden. Will you be building a patio? Where is the best place for it? Or maybe you’re thinking about vegetables, patio varieties (more to come on that soon) or a whole allotment. Maybe you’re planning a cutting patch or new flower bed? Sit down, make lists and draw it out. It’s tempting to just get going but you’ll benefit from a bit of planning now.

Plants for spring.
Now is a great time to think about plants to give colour in the early spring months. Buying them now may seem boring as they often don’t have much to show for themselves, with just a few bare branches, but it gives them time to settle in while the ground is wet before the summer. You might get a few flowers this year but the real benefit will be next year and you can see where the colour is missing from your garden as you plant them.

As I get older I feel I’m turning into my Dad… my only interests in years gone by were big showy flowers and shrubs were considered boring, but now I see they form the backbone of a well stocked garden, provide shape and colour when the summer flowers have died back and are also usually low maintenance. I’ve compromised here with some favourites that also provide flowers and colour if you’re looking for some spring additions to your garden.

For early colour and spring time cheer you can’t beat a Forsythia. A hardy shrub, the flowers come before the leaves in February to April, providing much needed garden colour. Another really beautiful flower, although far more showy is the Camellia.

Forsythia bush and Camellia flowers.

One of my favourite flowers, the Magnolia is actually a tree and a large one at that. One of my pet hates is people chosing plants they like that are too large for the space and Magnolias can really take over, albeit over many years. If you have a small garden try the Magnolia Stellata instead – more of a bush and not quite as pretty, but still spectacular in its own way.

Magnolia and Magnolia Tree

I saw my first bit of blossom bursting forth on the trees last week and immediately wanted some in my garden. If you would like some blossom in your garden, it’s possible to time it right so that you have a succession from now right through to early May by using different trees.

Images via

Try looking at fruit trees, hawthorn, ornamental cherry, (in a smaller garden look for a weeping cherry,) and crab apples.

Acers are known for their fiery red leaves and vibrant autumn display but one variety wows me year after year in spring when its new leaves emerge a vibrant shrimp pink colour before turning their usual pale yellow for the rest of the year. Look for Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’. Pieris is another one that rather than being known for its pretty bell flowers that appear in summer, its main display is the pink leaves that precede it in April. It’s quite compact and perfect for a smaller garden

Images via

More to look at…

  • Flowering currant – a good shrub with pretty pink hanging clusters of tiny flowers in April/May.
  • Ceanothus – a larger shrub that can be trained to climb up walls, along the floor or just as a normal bush, this becomes covered in cornflower blue blossom in late April/early May
  • Philadelphus – a white flowered shrub with fragrant flowers, Philadelphus is another garden standard, also known as ‘mock orange’. This and the Ceanothus grow fast, so are great for filling an empty space in a few short years.

I hope I’ve got you thinking about all the things you’ll be doing in the garden this year. I’ve got loads of posts coming to share with you on everything from pots for your front step or patio vegetables, to my allotment diary and back garden tidy up.

What’s your garden project this year?


Autumn Colour for the Garden

Well good afternoon! It’s been a completely glorious morning here in Manchester and it’s making me turn my thoughts to the garden and getting it in order for the winter. All those tidying jobs aren’t anywhere near as interesting as some of the fiery and eyecatching plants available for the garden right now however.

After my last gardening post, lots of you were quite excited about picking up tips so I decided today would be a good day to share my favourite plants for autumn colour – which will add some interest to your garden as the flowers fade, right through to Christmas. My kind of gardening is low maintenance for maximum enjoyment, but turf or gravel throughout is kind of boring and autumn is my favourite time of year, so I naturally gravitate towards plants that lend themselves to it. Happily, these are all plants that I have experience of in my own garden, and are beautifully low maintenance, just put them in and enjoy. So let’s get started!

Acers for Autumn
One of the most brilliant shows for autumn colour is put on by the Acer family. These are otherwise known as Japanese Maple and they actually often look pretty special in the spring too with their new leaves unfurling in super bright shades. They come as shrubs, low growing specimens and small to medium trees, so there’s one for every garden and they often have striking bark too. Buy them now to see exactly the level of brilliance you’re getting!

*Acer Palmatum all from Crocus.

Berry Beautiful
Thinking autumn? Think berries! Well, I do anyway! But it doesn’t have to be holly. I’ve been meaning to buy one of these purple berried ‘beauty berry’ bushes for ages now – they don’t look real do they? Pyracanthas grow along the floor or up against the wall and are also good for security with their thorny spines, whilst the snow berry bush is super festive when the frost arrives.

*Beauty Berry (Callicarpa,) Pyracantha or fire thorn, and snowberry bush (via Flickr.)

Autumn Colour
A lot of autumn colour comes from leaves, like this burgundy-leafed Smoke Bush, but it doesn’t have to. I look forward to the leaves falling off this stunning Dogwood with vivid red branches and the Garrya’s dangling silver catkins are quite beautiful too, which start to grow in summer and rehang in great proportions over the winter.

*Garrya, Dogwood (Cornus) and Cotinus (Smokebush).

Winter Flowers
And if you just can’t live without some flowers, there are a few flowering plants that come into their own in the winter too. These are all shrubs – plants which you might call ‘bushes’, with sturdy stems, as most flowers wouldn’t withstand the harsh temperatures of winter, but their cheery flowers really brighten up the day with the weak winter sun filtering through. Viburnums are also scented.

*Mahonia (spikes of yellow flowers on prickly leaves), Vibernum (tiny pink flower clusters,) and
Witch Hazel (Bottom.)

All of the plants above can be purchased from Crocus – one of my favourite online flower stores which also has lots of planting and size information alongside general garden advice and tips. however, several of these can also be purchased in a bog standard DIY store like B&Q – often quite cheaply, just look for healthy plants.

So, will you be adding some autumn colour to your garden?


The Bulb Diary

Ok, so, first things first, this mornings post isn’t going to be everybody reading’s cup of tea. If I’m honest, (and a few people will attest to this after I bent their ears!) my biggest fear with Florence Finds was that it’s diversity would be it’s downfall. I worried that fashionable types might not be interested in (or indeed lucky enough to have) a garden, or that DIY queens and interiors fanatics may not want to hear about make-up.

Actually I should be ashamed of myself for stereotyping women… I am this diverse, why shouldn’t the rest of you be?

So before we get started, this is a plea, if ever you don’t really fancy something I’ve posted, it’s only a few hours away from being something new and I will always try to vary the content, so please come back!

This post was inspired by 2 things. Firstly, my friend Jess bought some spring bulbs recently to plant in her new garden and amongst them were some tulips, which she planned to plant immediately. This was the end of September and it occurred to me that perhaps not everybody knew that Tulips are in fact planted in November. Secondly, the lovely Eliza Claire specifically requested some gardening tips, as have a few others of you and this is seasonal, so lets get started.

The first thing you need to know is that (although I’m about to tell you something to the contrary,) gardening is not science and should just be about enjoying your efforts. So if you buy various bulbs and just bung them in whenever, they will grow, do not fear! You might get a few popping up at unexpected times but come the next spring they will have reset themselves and be just fine.

However, if you’re going to go to all that trouble, this post is to help you get the best out of them. Planting things when they should be planted and the proper way, gives them the best start possible and you the prettiest flowers announcing the arrival of spring. Like I said, there are no rules, so just consider these ‘tips’. 🙂

Tip Number 1.
Most bulbs you buy will have instructions but when you get around to planting your bulbs, the way you do it is quite important… possibly the most important thing. As a rough rule of thumb, each bulb should be planted at double to three times their own depth. So small bulbs like crocuses or snowdrops don’t need to go in so deep, and bigger ones like daffodils and tulips need quite a bit more depth.

If you plant them too shallowly they will come up early and won’t get their roots in to stop them blowing over in spring gales and too deep and they won’t be reach out of the soil, but there’s less danger of that.

Tip Number 2.
Plant them the right way up! Most bulbs are quite obvious in their shape… look at the bulb and you’ll see they have a ‘pointier’ end (you might even be able to see remnants of the dried up leaves or new shoots poking through) and a flatter end (again where you will possibly see dried roots.) It’s easy, plant them nose up or they will have great difficulty reaching the surface. If you’re really not sure which is up and down, go sideways and they should still come up!

Tip Number 3.
Plant them at the right time… here’s a rough guide, think about the time of year they flower and count backwards. Early flowering bulbs like snowdrops and crocus need to go in earlier and tulips later, which can flower right into may and June.
September-October = Snowdrops, Crocus, Hyacinths
November-December = Tulips
Daffodils can go in as early as August/September (I know, I’m a little late writing this, but bung them in anyway!)

Lastly… Dig the right hole. Dig a wide hole and plant several bulbs at once to create ‘drifts’ of colour. To get them looking really natural plant in groups of odd numbers and plant them where they fall when you drop a handful rather than spacing them equally. Make sure the bottom of the bulb is in contact with the soil rather than wedged down a hole with an air bubble beneath, and water them in after putting the soil back, taking care not to knock them over.

So that’s it. An idiots guide to planting bulbs and growing your own beautiful spring display. And if you don’t have a garden, try it in pots, you can even grown them indoors 🙂

Are you working on your green fingers?


Image Credits R-L from top: (All found via Pinterest)
Snowdrops in Vase and Hyacinths in tin cans;
Grape Hyacinth mood board and Hyacinth bulbs;
Crocus Bulbs;
Crocus teacup and Rustic Table setting;
White Tulips

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