Too late for tulips?

PUBLISHED: 14:29 04 November 2011 | UPDATED: 12:07 28 February 2013

Rosa Cariad ‘Auspanier’ at Wisley

Rosa Cariad ‘Auspanier’ at Wisley

Warwickshire college lecturer Duncan Coombs with advice on November gardening.

Too late for tulips?



Warwickshire college lecturer Duncan Coombs with advice on November gardening.



I love spring bulbs, but am I too late to plant these as we are now going into winter?



Certainly not, unfortunately you are too late to get the best results from daffodils, but it is not too late for planting tulips, indeed many gardeners claim they are better planted in November. The idea behind this claim is that the tulips begin to grow a little later and may, therefore be less exposed to late winter frosts.



Something to consider when we remember last winter. There should still be plenty of tulips available to purchase; choose bulbs that are still firm and have no trace of mould growth on them. There is a tremendous range to select from, but I might select one of the packs offered where two or more cultivars have been selected by the producer to flower and form a pleasing combination together. Two very good cultivars I particularly noted last spring were Tulipa Ballerina and Tulipa Apricot Beauty.



My garden is looking dull as we go in to winter. I have room for a small tree, but ideally the tree should also look attractive at another season. Have you any suggestions?



An excellent candidate to liven up you garden at several seasons would be Malus x robusta Red Siberian, otherwise known as the Siberian crab apple. Grown on the rootstock MM106 this will make a small to medium sized tree three to four metres high with a similar spread, but if grown on M 27 a much smaller tree suitable perhaps for a large pot or will be produced.



This trees display starts in spring with masses of scented apple blossom. This alone would be good reason to plant this tree, but much more is to follow. Come the autumn one might think a mistake has been made, as trusses of pale red fruit are produced. Fear not, come November their colour intensifies to a brilliant red which shines out in the winter sun. Close inspection reveals a fruit of which the remains of the calyx has dropped out leaving a hard shiny cherry like apple that lasts right through the winter and indeed exceptionally I have seen this tree in full flower with some of the previous years fruit still in place.



A friend tells me that now is a good time to plant roses. Is this correct?



You have a wise friend. Now is indeed an excellent time of year to plant bare root roses. A very wide range of cultivars should be available to select from. Personally I favour planting roses together with other plants in mixed borders rather than in beds on there own.



There were some interesting planting ideas in the new rose garden at Wisley last summer and of particular note was Rosa Cariad Auspanier, with its pink flowers harmonising well with the pale pink scented flowers and dark purple foliage of Actaea simplex (Atropurpurea Group) Brunnette. When purchasing bare root roses make sure the roots are moist, not dried out and the buds on the stems are dormant and have not started to grow.



Royal Horticultural Society members can get free advice from Duncan, at Pershore College, on Mondays from 9am to 4.30pm. Personal visits by appointment. Advice line: 01386 551145.



http://www.warwickshire.ac.uk/courses/subject_areas/horticulture.aspx

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