Spring Bedding In The British Garden

 In Gardening

As a pensioner gardener, I assumed that most people know what bedding is, but I am clearly wrong. I noticed some wallflowers on sale in the centre of Christchurch. They were in bunches of ten, with bare roots, so I bought five bunches. The flower seller said that people had asked him when they flowered. I explained that April was the month, that such plants are called spring bedding. He was keen to know so I described what this was, that it was usual to plant tulips between wallflowers and similar spring plants. Last year I planted the primroses shown in the photograph, with white tulips. Unlike summer bedding, the spring plants and bulbs have to be frost tolerant.

Tulip Fire

The mention of tulips upset me. I have tulip fire in my Friars Cliff garden. This infection often occurs if you plant lots of tulips and then have a wet winter. Last year, with all that rain, most of my tulips failed because the bulbs rotted. I had to dig out hundreds and I cannot plant any more for three seasons, by which time the infection should disappear. I am rarely guilty of impulse buying but tulips are my one weakness. Blousy they might be, but what whites and colours!

Where to Buy

This year I have a mix of plants. I bought 80 viola’s at Lidl and planted small yellow daffodils between these. I then planted the wallflowers, interplanted with pink hyacinth bulbs from Stewart’s Garden Centre. The wallflowers, being bare rooted, had to be plunged in water for some hours to hydrate them. Because I was not planting them immediately, I had to dig a small trench and put them in soil to stop the roots drying out. That gave me a few days over which to complete the bedding out. Even after planting, they had a hang dog look and I had to water them a number of times to stop them drying out.

The Prehistoric View

In my forthcoming book, I mention that Zuri, back in 2200 BC, does not recognise a single plant in my garden. This is because all the plants have been introduced since her time. I looked up wallflowers on the internet and it appears the Normans brought them over. Who says, you might ask? The fact is that research on where plants came from is rather limited and imprecise. Zuri could not know the plant and she would laugh at me for planting anything purely for the flowers. I would have to respond with some emphasis on aesthetics, on the beauty of flowers. She does not understand aesthetics, a Greek word introduced 2,000 years after her time and I decide not to push the point. So here’s looking forward to the spring bedding next April, all flowers, scent and bees. My only wish is that I could eat them afterwards!

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