1. Plant spring flowering bulbs – these will need the cold period of winter to initiate flowering. Don’t leave it to late to plant pre-packed and loose bulbs as these can dry out if left too long in warm shop conditions.
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2. Lift and store dahlias when their foliage has been blackened by the first of the winter frosts. In mild winters and in particular for gardens with a free draining soil you may be able to get a way with protecting them with a heavy mulch. This can also work for fibrous begonias, but there can still be a risk from cold damage if temperatures drop to low.
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3. It takes two years in our English climate for the fruit from a fig tree to properly grow and ripen. In order to successfully over-winter this years embryonic fruit, they will need protecting form the worst of the cold. In sheltered positions, securing waxy brown paper bags of the fruit is often enough to do the trick, however in a more exposed positions you may need to cover with plastic netting, and back then filling it with a loose layer of straw or bracken.

4. Bring new life to your rhubarb next year by lifting, dividing and re-planting your old crowns.

5. Now is the time to spray peaches and nectarines against peach leave curl - just as the leaves begin to drop. When they do, collect and burn them to help prevent further infections next spring. For the more adventurous, try covering your trees with polythene supported by wooden posts. This can also prevent re-infection next year from spores carried in rain droplets.
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You must have a heart of stone if you can't appreciate the beauty of tulips. Compact, colourful, and highly ornamental, no wonder they were placed in such high regard by early garden designers.

Of course you can just plant and forget, but to get the best out of tulips you need to give them a little care. So, read on to seed my top tips for tulip care.

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1. Tulip bulbs will grow best in a fertile, sandy soil situated in an open and sunny location; however they should be protected from excessive damp and strong winds.

2. If you're growing tulips in containers don't forget to water them during early spring if the weather is unseasonably dry and warm. They can quickly dry out especially if strong winds are prone.

3. After flowering, most varieties benefit from being lifted and stored in a dry place until the autumn. Other varieties, particularly the Kaufmanniana hybrids and species tulips, can be left in the ground, and allowed to spread naturally.

4. Traditionally, tulips were planted in the autumn before the first frosts arrived. However they tend to do far better being planted later, anywhere from November to as late as January. This will also help to reduce the incidence of fungal infection during the earlier wet weather. Once planted give them a good top dressing.

5. Start to water your bulbs when you see the buds beginning to rise as this will encourage larger blooms and taller stems.

6. For long-term tulip displays, allow the old foliage to dry off before cutting it back. This will allow most of the plants nutrients to be absorbed back into the bulb proper in readiness for next years show.

For further information click onto the following links:
Do Black Tulips really exist?
How to Grow Bulbs
How to Over-Winter Rare and Species Tulips
Lost Tulips of The Dutch Golden Age - Semper Augustus and Viceroy
Old, Broken and Unusual Tulip Varieties
Old Dutch Tulips - Tulip Duc van Thol 'Rose'
Old Dutch Tulips - Tulip Duc van Thol 'Scarlet'
Old Dutch Tulips - Tulip 'Lac van Rijn'
Species Tulip - Tulipa turkestanica
Tulip History and Popular Varieties
Tulip Diseases How To Propagate Tulips
Tulip 'Semper Augustus' - does it still exist?
What is a Bulb?
What is the Tulip Breaking Virus?


As garden plants go, tulips are among the most popular, best value and relatively disease free plants that you can buy. Unfortunately high volume production techniques and a tolerance to unsympathetic environmental conditions has seen a steady increase in pathogenic attack. Although thankfully its still quite rare to find diseased bulb stocks in the garden, there are more and more infected bulbs coming on the market place direct from the growers. The most common diseases you are likely to find are as follows.


Symptoms: The bulbs will either fail to emerge, or they will produce severely distorted shoots which will eventually wither and die. Below ground, the bulbs will turn grey and progressively drier as the rot develops, until only the roots and basal plate remain.

Cause: the fungus Rhizoctonia tuliparum. This will not only infect tulips but many other types of bulbs besides.

Control: Unfortunately there is no cure, but to prevent further infection you must remove and burn all the infected plants. Next you must removal of the surrounding soil which can be sterilized using Jeye's fluid or burning. Do not plant other bulbs in the same spot for at least five years in case of re-infection from dormant spores.


Symptoms: The bulbs will either fail completely of just to emerge. Any new growth that does appear will be severely distorted only to wither and die. The bulb itself will turn grey and dry up until only the roots and basal plate remain.
Cause: A fungus known as Sclerotium delphinii which can lie dormant in the soil for many years. Infections usually occur on the stems near the soil surface. Although not widespread, it can cause serious damage, especially in moist, warm soils.

Control: Remove all affected foliage immediately and to prevent further infection you must remove and burn all infected plants and soil. Do not plant tulips in the same area for at least three years as this will discourage the build up of any further disease. Try planting later in the season to discourage the disease from developing. In milder climates it can be left as late as early January. Lift bulbs at the end of the season and dust with an anti-fungal sulphur powder.


Symptoms: The bulbs should emerge but they will be showing withered, distorted foliage with pale coloured flecks. Sometimes the infection shows as a scorched appearance, soon followed by a fuzzy mould. The plants will often fail to mature or flower but if the flowers do open, the petals will show bleached spots. The flower stems will also be weak and prone to collapse.

Cause: the fungus Botrytis tulipae. The fungal spores overwinter in the soil on infected bulbs. Once the fungus displays its fruiting bodies, new spores are spread to other plants by air or water splash.

Control: Remove all affected foliage immediately and to prevent further infection you must remove and burn all infected plants and soil. Do not plant tulips in the same area for at least three years as this will discourage the build up of any further disease. Try planting later in the season to discourage the disease from developing. In milder climates it can be left as late as early January. Lift bulbs at the end of the season and dust with an anti-fungal sulphur powder.
Symptoms: This virus causes colour breaking on the petals of pink, purple and red flowered cultivars although yellow and white coloured varieties are not affected. This 'breaking' can take the form of conspicuous white or yellow streaking across the petals or streaking of a darker shade compared to the original colour. Sometime you may see a combination of the two effects. Occasionally you may come across mottling or stripping of the plants leaves.
Cause: This virus is transferred from plant to plant by the following aphids - Myzus persica, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, and Aphis fabae. As the aphid bites into an infected plant, small amounts of the virus are left in it mouth parts. When the aphid moves to another host the virus enters the plants vascular system when the aphid once again starts to feed.
Control: The best means of treatment is to remove and burn infected plants as you see them. As a precaution, do not plant tulips next to lilies as they are also able to carry the virus, allowing cross contamination to occur.
For further information click onto the following links:
Do Black Tulips really exist?


November can be one of the dreariest months of the year with little happening in the garden besides raking leaves and sweeping puddles. Only the very hardiest of gardeners will be doing any actual work, identified by their summer shorts in a missed-placed, yet stout hearted defiance of the on-coming cold weather.

Other than trying to bring a little colour into the garden by making up winter tubs and baskets, there isn't much that will tempt you to drive several miles in the pouring rain to reach your local garden centre. However this is a critical time for preparing your garden for the following year. In fact some of the brightest and most colourful plants that you can ever get are available now, and the sooner you get them into the ground the better.

We are talking about spring flowering bulbs and in particular that most precious of all families, the tulips. Along with clogs, and an over indulgence for soft drugs, tulips are well known for their association with Dutch culture. In fact, Holland is the world’s main producer of commercially sold tulip bulbs, producing as many as 3 billion plants every year. With that in mind you may be surprised to learn that tulips are not a native of Holland and are in fact indigenous to the mountainous regions of Northern Africa and Southern Europe. It’s because of this contrasting habitat that tulips have developed the need for a period of cold dormancy and why, in northern Europe, they must be planted before our winter season starts otherwise they cannot initiate flowering.

Over a thousand years ago, Turkish entrepreneurs had begun cultivating wild tulips that grew in the Persian region, and traded them throughout the Ottoman Empire. During this that time the Great Mogul Baber counted thirty-three different species in the area of Kabul alone. So how is it then, that although originating from a hot, dry mountainous environment, tulips manage to thrive in Holland. At a first glance the Dutch landscape seems at odds with such an environmentally specific crop with is almost uniquely characteristic landscape. It’s at, and in many areas below, sea level, it’s extremely flat and the winters are particularly wet. The reason why they do so well in Holland is because of their land reclamation policy. By introducing an effective drainage system based on the Archimedes screw and powered by windmills, they inadvertently created a soil that kept the bulbs in an almost perfect and constant environment.
Between 1634 and 1637, the early enthusiasm for the new flowers triggered a speculative frenzy now known as the tulip mania and tulip bulbs were then considered a form of currency just like the California Gold Rush. People abandoned jobs, businesses, wives, homes and lovers, all just to become tulip growers. Records show one Dutchman who paid thirty-six bushels of wheat, seventy-two of rice, four oxen, twelve sheep, eight pigs, two barrels of wine and four of beer, two tons of butter, a thousands pounds of cheese, a bed, clothes, and a silver cup, just for a single Viceroy bulb! Perhaps the best story is this - after paying for a bulb with its weight in gold, the new owner heard that a cobbler possessed the same variety. He bought the cobbler’s second bulb and crushed it, to increase the value of his first bulb.

Tulip 'Princess Irene' has single reddish/orange flowers that are lighter at the tips of its rounded petals.
Tulip 'Yokohama' has a long lasting, sunshine-yellow flower, with single blooms and slightly pointed petals. It is also very weather resistant.
Tulip 'Oranje Nassau': is a tall open orange flower with a soft, wavy edge.
Tulip 'Purissima' is an silky-white, smooth-cupped flower.
Tulipa 'Rem's Sensation': This is an exceptional 'Triumph' tulip. It's a strong, sturdy variety with thick, substantial petals that glisten white with purple/red flames.
Tulipa 'Carnaval de Nice' is a stunning double peony tulip, with a large globe of petals, white with wide ragged raspberry-red streaks or flames. Introduced in 1953, it supersedes similar cultivars form a century older which were troubled with weak stems. Although strengthened, Carnival de Nice is still at risk of being knocked over by bad weather.
Tulip 'White Dream' is a pure ice-white bloom, cup-shaped, single-flowering variety.
Tulip 'Don Quixote' has a large single, cyclamen-pink flower with grey-green leaves. The flowers are very long-lasting sat high on 16 -18cm stems making them suitable for cut flowers.
Tulip 'Maytime' is a dusky deep-purple, lily- shaped flower with elegant, tapered petals that open out slightly. It has a slightly paler edge to it which helps to highlight the petals edge. It's a particularly sturdy variety, despite its delicate appearance and can be planted out for permanent, formal displays, or in containers.
Tulip 'Dreamland' is a creamy white flower leading to a flamed fuschia-pink at the top of the petals.
Tulip wilsoniana is a beautiful vermillion red alpine tulip perfectly suited for dry sunny beds.
Tulip 'Queen of the Night' has dark maroon colouring which brings out the satiny sheen of the petals; this is one of the darkest tulip varieties which can help create a truly dramatic display.
Tulipa sprengeri - the wild tulip. This has delicate scarlet flowers followed by pale, gherkin-like seed pods.
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