Peter Nyssen Blog
  • Planting snowdrops, eranthis and English bluebells in-the-green

    The stunning eranthis can be very successfully planted in-the-green These stunning Eranthis can be very successfully planted in-the-green

    Many of our experienced customers prefer to plant snowdrops, winter aconites and English bluebells “in-the-green”. This means they are delivered, carefully wrapped to preserve moisture, in full growth with a little soil attached to the bulbs. By planting them in this state you can see exactly where you are putting them and they often establish themselves more quickly. It’s also an extremely useful way to inject flowers quickly into bare spots! They should be planted immediately on delivery and will flower readily. Here are our quick and easy planting tips for a successful show.

    Snowdrops in-the-green arrive either in flower or about to flower. They should be planted around 10-15cm deep in groups of 5 to 9. Snowdrops planted in open ground will naturalise at a quicker pace than those planted in grass.

    Eranthis (Winter Aconites) also arrive in flower or about to flower. They should be planted around 4cm deep in small clumps, in a moist well drained shaded place. When congested lift and separate after flowering.

    English Bluebells arrive before they flower. They should be planted around 8cm deep in a moist well drained sheltered site.

  • Dahlia Propagation Pass Notes

    Dahlia Jescot Julie We have a wonderful range of dahlia tubers available for sale online in our webshop

    Now is the time to start dahlias into early growth for cuttings. Plant your tubers in trays of damp compost covering just under half the tuber and let shoots grow to 3 to 5 cm. At this point you can divide the tuber into portions, making sure you have roots and shoots on each individual section. Pot each section separately using a good free draining compost like John Innes No.1. This method will produce several smaller dahlia plants from your original tuber.

    Alternatively, you can take basal cuttings from your dahlia tubers. This method will yield a smaller plant in the first year but will not compromise the vigour of the existing tuber. To do this, take a single, strong shoot and, with a clean sharp knife, cut it away from the mother plant making sure you take a small sliver of tuber with each one. Cut away the lower leaf and dip the cuttings into hormone rooting powder before planting them in free draining compost like John Innes No.2. Keep the cuttings warm until the roots are formed (this takes around two to three weeks). Once the roots are formed you can pot them in to individual pots.

    Plant your dahlias, propagated or purchased new from our wide range, out into the garden from around mid-April after the chance of frost has gone.

  • How to plant and grow dahlias - hints and tips from Peter Nyssen

    Dahlias are one of the best value plants available and will flower all summer (depending on the variety) if cared for properly. Their diversity of colour and shape are a real winner for every garden and a gift your family or friends can enjoy for months on end. Below are our top dahlia planting and care tips. Do let us know if you have any additional handy hints so we can add them to our website to share with other enthusiasts.

    1. Plant dahlia tubers at a minimum depth of 15cm adding good quality compost or manure to the soil especially around the roots to help with moisture retention.

    2. Dahlias can not withstand cold so plant them in the ground after the frosts or in sheltered pots ready to transplant when the soil temperature rises.

    3. Always stake the larger varieties as soon as you plant the dahlia tubers.  This will help keep the dahlias from rocking in windy areas and encourage long, straight stems.

    4. Dahlias love sun, don’t plant in the shade or you will loose the flower and end up with leggy plants.

    5. Dahlias are hungry plants and will need feeding regularly with high potash feed and water regularly. Do not use a nitrogen fertiliser as this will also restrict flower production.

    6. Always pinch out the side shoots of your dahlias when the plant is around 15-20cm this encourages the plant to produce a good bushy structure and many more flowers.

    7. In the autumn, allow the frost to turn the growth black then lift the dahlia tubers and trim the growth. Turn upside down on paper to drain any excess water and allow to dry for a few days. Finally,  dust the tubers with a fungicide and store in shallow boxes or trays with dry sand or peat free compost around the roots. Keep in a frost free dry place.

  • Our Top 10 Bulb Planting Tips

    autumn leavesNow Autumn has put in her first appearance and the summer gardens are coming to an end the time is now for planting spring flowering bulbs. To help you in your gardening efforts we’ve put our heads together and come up with our TOP 10 BULB PLANTING HINTS AND TIPS. Do let us know if you have any you’d like to share for the next edition of the newsletter!

    1) Prepare your soil by adding garden compost and, in heavy soils, horticultural grit and sand. For containers use a mix of John Innes No.2 with a little added grit.

    2) Squirrels, rabbits etc just love tulip, crocus and iris bulbs (amongst others). Aside from choosing Animal Resistant bulbs (use our special filter on the website) try planting your bulbs in an open weave net bag, such as an onion bag making sure the holes are big enough for the shoots to come through. Plant the whole bag in the ground and deprive the furry critters of their bulb feast.

    3) For a good rule of thumb, plant your bulbs three to four times as deep as they are high. Tulips and daffodils should be planted at least 15cm deep.

    Crocus Aitchisonii Naturalising bulbs such as crocuses look great in a lawn

    4) Running out of space in your garden? Try planting a mix of early flowering, naturalising bulbs such as snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils in your grass. Plant them using a bulb planter randomly across the lawn for a natural splash of spring colour.

    5) If you’re not sure where you have gaps in your spring planting try planting a selection of bulbs in pots ready to transplant into the spaces once the shoots start to show.

    6) Not all bulbs need dry conditions to flourish. In damp areas try Camassias or Fritillaria Meleagris.


    7) Not all bulbs need sun! Erythronium, Wood Anemone and Scilla Bifolia or Siberica all do well in the shade.

    8) Try using layer planting in containers for weeks of flowers or plant en masse in your borders for dramatic effect. Give us a call if you’d like more help with choosing suitable varieties.

    9) Water your bulbs as soon as you have planted them. This encourages root growth.

    10) If left in the ground, tulips degenerate year on year. To preserve your favourites, remove the seed head after flowering and let the foliage die back before lifting the bulbs. Store in net bags in a cool, dry place until you plant them out in the following autumn.

  • The beauty of Iris Germanica and Siberica

    Iris Germanica or Bearded Iris have large blade like leaves and large flowers, the flowers have a beautiful structure, three upper petals and three lower petals, the lower petals have soft hairs at the top which gives the name “Bearded Iris.

    Iris Siberica are slimmer family members the flowers are beardless, no hairs on the flowers they have a more delicate look to them Iris Siberica love the sun but will tolerate partial shade they will also take more moisture than Germanica although they do not like waterlogged soil, the leaves are more grass like unlike the thicker fleshy Iris Germanica and they will tolerate any soil from light to heavy. Iris Germanica and Siberica are easy to grow, plant in a sunny position where their rhizomes can bake in the sun, don’t plant with ground cover plants as they can hide the rhizomes from the sun.

    Bearded Iris like a soil with good drainage they like a neutral soil but will cope if the soil is chalky or alkaline, if you have clay or heavy soil add in some grit to help with the drainage. Our iris are bare rooted if you can’t plant straight away put in some damp compost otherwise give then a light soak to plump up the rhizomes and plant at soil level spreading the roots a little; give them about 30cm spacing, give them a good high potash feed while they are growing always avoid high nitrogen fertilizer, once the flowers have faded bone meal will give them a boost to help see them through the winter.

    Iris Germanica (Bearded Iris) and Iris Siberica are excellent perennial plants perfect for the middle to back of the border where these statement perennial plants can bring pazzaz and a little of the wow factor; Iris are ideal for the cottage to the modern contemporary garden and because they divide so easily are excellent value for money.

    When the Iris have established after 3 to 4 years you can divided the Iris to make new plants this also stops them from becoming woody which results in fewer and fewer flowers, dig the clump up after flowering using a sharp knife to cut away the leaves to a fan shape around 15 cm in length, each piece should have a portion of the rhizomes around 15 cm long, if the rhizome looks withered they are best discarded.

    Their are not too many problems to look out for but keep an eye out for Rhizome rot this usually shows in the late spring, the first signs of rot start at the base of the stem and travel into the rhizome once infected it will become brown and soft with a distinct rotting smell, as soon as you see this cut away any patches back to good clean root and dust with fungicide.

    Grey mould is another problem you should look out for although it is easy to spot it’s a fuzzy off white or greyish brown spore usually in the leaves, it is vital you do not disturb the plant to much and release the spores in to the air to infect other plants a good idea if to use a fleece cover the iris to help prevent the airborne spread. Cut back and burn any infected growth and treat the plant with an appropriate grey mould fungicide, slugs, snails and thrips can also be a problem.

    Once planted all you have to do is sit back and wait for the show.

  • Planting Agapanthus

    9th February 2014
    Agapanthus Black Buddhist Agapanthus Black Buddhist

    Agapanthus (African Lily) are not just good looking flowers they bring a little of the exotic to the garden with their stately elegance, the colour choice is blue or white but there is a good choice of blue from the light blue to dark indigo blue and from pure white to silver white with a hint of blue. Agapanthus are not the hardest plants to grow but they are also not the easiest they will need a little help and encouragement but once established they will reward you from July to late August with an amazing display with their large open flower heads which are excellent for cut flowers.

    Agapanthus grow from rhizomes not bulbs or tubers they produce fleshy roots which like to be constricted, the leaves depending on the variety can have different shapes and colours from light to dark green, grey green and variegated. Like so many garden favourites choose the right variety for your garden, if you’re unsure Agapanthus Africanus Blue or white or Blue Giant are good hardy varieties they are excellent plants to start you off, you can always grown the other varieties in pots and bring them indoors for winter care.

    If planting Agapanthus in pots use a mixture of soil and compost mixed with a little sand and grit to help drainage. Feeding every couple of weeks or at least once a month when you see the green shoots appear with high potash feed Tomato fertilizer is excellent for this; it’s also important to add some general fertilizer as well to make sure the Agapanthus plants receive the best nutrients you can give them.

    If growing in the garden follow the same feeding tips for growing in pots, they are not hungry feeders but will reward you with a fabulous flower display, always leave the leaves to die back naturally and leave until at least March before you remove them, this will give some protection to the crown of the Agapanthus plants, a good mulch is required if you live in very cold areas. You can plant non hardy varieties in pots and sink them just below soil level which will hide the pots then after flowering remove them for winter; I have a few varieties in pots which I move around the garden to highlight different areas and plants. Agapanthus like a well drained soil/compost

    Agapanthus are tolerant of salty winds and so make good coastal plants, hailing from South African they love the sun so plant in a south facing position where they will produce stronger stems and more flowers over the years, they don’t suffer from major pests or disease, the taller varieties will do well in windy conditions. Agapanthus are drought tolerant but they will need some water at least twice a week, it’s important they are planted in a part of the garden that does not hold water as they do not like to sit in water, the best time to plant Agapanthus from bare root is from March to May

    Agapanthus plants can be slow to establish one or two years but when they do you will not be disappointed and the wait will have been worth it.

  • Garden thoughts

    IMG_3940_1 (1)

    Here we are in January turning our thoughts to summer and the floral display’s that will be the backbone of our gardens; with a wide choice of bulbs, plants, corms, tubers, ferns, grasses and small shrubs and trees available to tempt and inspire the imagination. The weather may trap us inside and it may be a little early for most items but we can still plan ahead and order in advance so we are not disappointed if stocks run short.

    For me Dahlia Tubers are a must have; they flower from July until the first frost the more you cut them the more they flower, there is a Dahlia for every garden from the small Gallery Dahlia to the tall Decorative & Cactus Dahlias the Bishop Dahlias and Classic Dahlias have foliage in a remarkable shade of blackish green bringing another dimension to the Dahlia plants.

    Lilium with their glamorous flowers bring a little of the exotic to the garden. Oriental Lilies, Orienpet Lilies, Longiflorum Lilies and Trumpet lilies will bring perfume to the garden, the tall Specie Lilium are perfect for back of the border where they can be left to naturalise.

    Gladioli and Begonia corms like the Dahlias a few years ago; lost favour with gardeners but they are now starting to take their rightful place back in our gardens I’m so pleased they are, Gladioli bring structure and stately elegance to the border and like Begonia corms make excellent starter bulbs for children. Gladioli are perfect for cut flowers. Begonias come in many different colours the flowers range from the blousy to the delicate they provide flowers from July to the first frost perfect for growing in pots, widow boxes or the edge of the border. Trailing Begonias give the wow effect to your hanging baskets.

    Then you have the stalwarts of the garden most of these come under the Miscellaneous category. Acidanthera “Callianthus” beautiful white elegance with a distinctive carmine purple blotch and soft fragrance. I can always find a place for Brodiaea an excellent bulb I think really overlooked, not too tall at 20/30 cm a distinctive blue flower in June/July try mixing with Alchemilla or any low growing plant especially lime green, yellow, orange or white. Crocosmia with their long arching spikes perfect for the middle to back of the border, their light airy habit are perfect in the middle of the border when you want to see what is planted behind they bring excellent composition to the border.

    Eucomis lush green leaves surround a thick stem of flowers often called the pineapple flower perfect for ground cover not to tall and exotic. Galtonia a back of the border bulb tall impressive spikes with white or green bell shaped flowers. Nerine also known as the Guernsey Lily planted just at the surface or they will never flower bring colour to the autumn garden. Ornithogalum excellent in the garden they make perfect long lasting cut flowers. Polianthes “Tuberosa” ideal for the garden border or pots they have a lovely strong perfume and for the woodland garden Trillium are perfect if you are north facing.

    The Perennials are the back bone of the garden they work hard providing colour, shape and foliage over the summer months they need little attention except for a little pruning to keep the shape improve the foliage and promote further flowering, every few years dig them up and split the plant to encourage better growth.

    There is an endless choice in perennials and mixed together they can bring a great effect a few examples are Alchemilla and Nepeta the lime green and lavender work well planted together plant Allium in the autumn then over plant with Hosta the wide leaves of the Hostas hide the Allium foliage and are an excellent foil for the allium flowers. Camassia planted in the autumn with Euphorbia planted in the spring are an excellent colour combination giving a fresh planting scheme. Pink Tulips planted in the autumn mixed with Dicentra pink and white, Tulip Flaming spring Green or Happy Generation planted with Aquilegia Nora Barlow

    Plant Hosta Patriot and intersperse them with Paeonies and red Pulmonaria mix in some deep red Monarda for a rich textured effect or mix complimenting shades of Hostas with lavender, purple and lilac flowers to bring a cool elegant look to the garden.

    Perennial plants have a limitless ability to fit into any garden from a small window box a city garden, suburban or woodland garden. Perennials have an excellent colour pallet to experiment with from cool whites, blues and pinks to the jewel shades of deep purple, red, orange with a touch of deep pink.

    Which ones to choose and recommend hmm like a box of chocolates it’s hard to know where to start you love them all?

  • The beauty that is Fritillaria

    IMG_1555Fritillaria are a member of the “Lillaceae” family, there are around 100 species, and most of the Fritillaria’s have bell shaped pendant flowers. Fritillaria originate from the Northern Hemisphere, Mediterranean, parts of Asia and America. Excellent bulbs for the rock garden, woodland, raised beds and garden borders most are easy to grow and will last in flower for a few weeks n the right conditions.

    Fritillaria Meleagris (Snakes’s Head) with their lovely checker board effect flowers in shades of purple and sometimes white are seen less and less in the wild which is a great shame, to see them planted on mass glinting in the sun is a sight to behold. Fritillaria thrive in damp grassland and meadows with are prone to flooding in winter. Meleagris are hermaphrodite they are pollinated by bees, they also self fertilize.

    Crown Imperials have a some what unattractive smell but there graceful beauty in the middle to the back of the border makes it easy to live with; the flowers are borne at the top of the stem with a crown of fresh green leave above. Plant Fritillaria Crown Imperials almost on their side this will prevent water from sitting in the bulb causing them to rot. Plant in full sun well drained sandy soil and you crown imperials will provide years of colour.

    Persica is an excellent for the middle to back of the border with around 20 deep plum purple bells shaped flowers they bring a little drama to the garden. Ivory Bells has flower of pale ivory green, Fritillaria Persica and Ivory Bells needs plenty of sun to develop they like well drained sandy soil, grit will also help with drainage, they like to be planted deep around 15-20 cm deep almost on their side to prevent the bulb from rotting.

    Elwesii is a graceful of Fritillaria only 20cm high they have greyish green leaves with up to three or more flowers the narrow bells are a lovely shade of rich plum purple almost with a black tone, with contrasting olive green stripe, provide good drainage in a light soil add a little humus when planting, this lovely little variety will take dappled shade.

    Hermonis Amana is a fritillaria that should be more widely grown, it’s easy to grown and robust the beautiful emerald green flowers are tessellated with reddish brown, Hermonis likes well drained moist soil in full sun to dappled shade, plant around 10 cm deep.

    Pontica has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit because it’s a good reliable performer in the right conditions, full sun to dappled shade with moist well drained soil plant around 8-10 cm deep. The flowers of Fritillaria Pontica are slender bell shaped green on the outside with a hint of purple brown flushing, the inside is more citron-green a lovely variety with a light fragrance.

    Uva Vulpis “what a name” this fritillaria bears around three bell shaped flowers per stem thrives in moist well drained soil that does not dry out,

    Provide high potash fertilizer before planting and as an occasional top dressing, if planting Meleagris in grass it is important to leave the leaves fro at least six weeks before mowing. Like all bulbs in the Lillaceae family they are prone to attack from the Lily Beatle keep a watchful eye.

    There are some excellent varieties of Fritillaria they are worth hunting out; there is a space in every garden even for just one variety.

    Fritillaria will flower mostly in April/May give them a damp site that does not dry out, it is important you plant fritillaria on arrival. Crown Imperials have been know to keep moles at bay as the aroma of these fritillaria can penetrate into the ground.

  • Miscellaneous - N -Z part 3

    Ranunculus_asiaticus_1In our new catalogue you will find over 100 different varieties of Miscellaneous Bulbs from Anemone to Snowdrops, the bulbs in this section are ideal for all garden areas from pots to borders the woodland and meadow planting

    Nectaroscodum can be found under the Allium section in our catalogue and website.

    Ornithogalum “Star of Bethlehem” have stems of around 25 to 80 cms with star shaped white flowers. Arabicum make a good cut flower. Nutans and Umbellatum are good for woodland, meadow planting and the borders. Magnum produces an abundance of lovely starry white flowers. The prices start from as little as 11p a bulb to 80p a bulb for the taller Arabicum.

    Puschkinia excellent for naturalising in the rock garden or border around shrubs, producing masses of small star-shaped flowers on short stems at 8p per bulb. Ranunculus brightly coloured double flowers excellent in the border or pots; they make excellent long lasting cut flowers from as little as 12p per bulb, they like a little light soak before planting.

    Scilla is a large group from the Squil and Spanish bluebell to the beautiful English bluebell Endymion Non Scriptus. They are excellent for the border, pots and woodland planting they will happily naturalize freely. Siberica and Siberica Spring Beauty are lovely planted with daffodils & narcissi, they start from as little as 11p a bulb and make a good garden investment.

    Snowdrops a must for any spring garden with their pure white flowers and touch of green, they herald the arrival of spring. From the double form Flore Pleno to the natural single Nivalis Simplex excellent for naturalising in the woodland or garden border from as little as 15p per bulb or the lovelt Sam Arnott with its sweet fragrance, Snowdrops are best planted in September and October as dry bulbs or in the green from end of February.

    Sparaxis are an inexpensive long lasting flower excellent for the border or pots with an extensive colour range from white, pink, yellow, reds and purples some have a black ring in the centre for as little as 6p a bulb.

    Zantadeschia also called Calla Lily or Arum Lily, they bring an architectural elegance to the garden, the large foliage and pure white flowers bring a touch of elegance, ideal for the edge of the pond in damp soil or bog garden. Zantadeschia can be grown in the border, but like to be kept damp, they are moisture lovers. Provide a good mulch in winter.

    Now the introduction to this years catalogue is done, sit back and plan your spring floral fireworks display.

  • Miscellaneous - F-M part 2

    Frit_Lutea_9In our new catalogue you will find over 100 different varieties of Miscellaneous Bulbs from Anemone to Snowdrops, the bulbs in this section are ideal for all garden areas from pots to borders the woodland and meadow planting

    Freesias in the autumn are for indoor flowering, they have a heady perfume in a good range of mixed colours from single to double flowering from 11p per bulb.Excellent for cut flowers.

    Fritillaria come in a range of flowering types and heights from the stately Crown Imperials with their tall stems and large bells to Meleagris with their checked maroon bells at only 12p each. Fritillaria are a diverse group there is a bulb to suit every gardener in this section from colour to height most flowers are bell or cupped shaped.

    Gladioli in the autumn section are the early flowering types like Gladioli Byzantinus with its magenta flowers make a good woodland or medow plant at only 13p each the Gladioli Nanus are a mixture of the small flowering types of Gladioli excellent for cut flower at only 16p a bulb. Gladioli The Bride is pure white excellent for cut flower at only 20p a bulb. All these gladioli are good in the borders or pots.

    Ipheion this bulb should be more widely planted it is robust and hardy producing a mass of star shaped flowers from blue to white, they have a light fragrance and from only 11p a bulb worth planting for a long lasting display.

    Ixias or African Corn Lily grow in clumps with starry flowers in a range of colours from white, pink, magenta, yellow and pink from tall slender stems at only 8p a bulb.

    Leucojum “Summer Snowflake” resembles a large snowdrop, their beautiful flowers are produced on stems from around 30 to 50 cms, making them more easily seen than the smaller snowdrop. They will tolerate planting in damp moist soils from as little as 20p per bulb.

    Muscari “Grape Hyacinth” they are an undemanding and reliable group producing hyacinth type flowers on short stems. Leave to naturalize in the border, rockery or woodland. They come in many shades of blue or white and start from as little as 7p a bulb There are new Muscari which are more compact and produce more flower than leaf like White and Blue Magic, Cuipdo is a beautiful new Muscari with a lovely shade of sky blue.

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