Gardening: ‘The joy of spring colour is here’

Phyl Boyce

Reporter:

Phyl Boyce

Daffodils from Phyls garden
Daffodils have been adding some much need colour over the last few weeks. They are easy to grow and require little maintenance so if you have been enjoying other peoples and wondering how you can guarantee some cheer next Spring then this will interest you.

Daffodils have been adding some much need colour over the last few weeks. They are easy to grow and require little maintenance so if you have been enjoying other peoples and wondering how you can guarantee some cheer next Spring then this will interest you.

They come in many different shapes and colours that, with careful selection of varieties, can flower for four months of the year. The scientific name of the daffodil derives from the Greek god Narcissus, who looked into a pool, saw his reflection and fell in love with himself. Because there are so many types of daffodils they have been divided into 12 divisions, each with distinct characteristics based on the shape and number of flowers on each stem. Flower shapes include trumpet, large and small cupped, double, more than one flower per stem and miniature daffodils which have become very popular. Some varieties lend themselves to naturalising, others are excellent in pot and containers on the patio or planted in a border.

The large trumpet variety ‘Mount Hood’, with white petals and ivory trumpet, produces big flowers that makes a bold display in a border. ‘Jack Snipe’, has long pointed petals and neat trumpets in dark yellow, grows only 9 inches tall, making it ideal for pots, window-boxes and hanging baskets. ‘Minnow’ produces up to five flowers per stalk, has rounded creamy yellow petals and a lemon trumpet, is very fragrant and tender making it suitable for growing indoors. ‘Rip van Wickle’ is a small species suitable for rock gardens.

Daffodils will grow almost anywhere, although they do prefer well drained soils in sun or partial shade. Bulbs should be planted from August to November, the earlier the better, at a depth three times the height of the bulb in beds, borders and large containers. In lawns they are best planted slightly deeper, at a depth of 6 inches. If your soil is heavy and poorly drained, mix a handful of grit into the base of the planting hole. This will increase drainage, thus reducing the risk of fungal diseases. To create a really good display in a container, plant bulbs at different depths to increase the number of bulbs that can fit into the space. Daffodils look good planted in borders or in naturalised drifts at the base of deciduous trees. They look at their best when planted in drifts of eight or more bulbs, which appears more natural. They also work well in containers with most spring flowering plants. Try them with tulips, crocuses and polyanthus.

For those that already have daffodils and want to get a head start on next years crop by carrying out some spring cleaning. After this years flowers have faded, the remaining leaves can look unsightly but do not remove the leaves for at least six weeks after flowering. Apply a high potash fertiliser after flowering to increase the size of the bulb for next year. Divide overcrowded clumps in late summer and plant elsewhere in the garden. Daffodils have been used by many Tidy Towns Committees to brighten up their town or village in spring.

If your daffodils did not flower the most likely cause is that the bulbs were not planted deep enough.

Jobs for the week

Pot up tuberous begonias now. Plant the tubers in a pot of potting compost, with the hollow or concave side upwards. Place in a warm place and water sparingly until the new shoots appear. Begonias produce large double flowers, as wide as a saucer, in a range of colours from white, yellow, pink to red.

Now is the time to prune hydrangeas. We leave the dead flower heads on the plants over winter to give protection to the new growth from frost. Remove the old flower heads on young plants. Hydrangeas flower on stems produced the previous year so do not totally remove these. On old plants remove some stems completely each year. Cut these stems close to the ground, weak and thin stems may also be removed. This will encourage new vigorous shoots, that produce better flowers, to grow from the base up.

Flower and Garden Club

The Limerick Flower and Garden Club will host a Flower and Garden night on Tuesday the April 14 in the Greenhills Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick. During the night there will be floral arrangements and growers competitions as well as a demonstration by Betranda Delaney.