How to Guides

  1. How to choose bulbs by colour

    We know there’s a mind-boggling array of bulbs and plants available on our website. It’s what we’re famous for! To make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for, we’ve added filters to our category pages so you can go straight to the products you are after. In this simple “how to” guide, we show you how to narrow your search down to the colours you’ve chosen for your garden and how to add your choices to your basket. The principle can be easily applied to other attributes in the side menu: “blooming time”, “garden position”, “height”, “special features” (including whether the flower is scented or suitable for cut flower), “planting time”, “type of soil” and “hardiness”.

    Step 1: From any page on the website, hover your mouse over the category displayed in the top menu that you are interested in (autumn planting, for example). A large drop-down menu will appear.

    Step 2: Move your mouse over the sub-category you are interested in (tulips, for example) and click on it.

    Step 3: Scroll down the page until you see the bold title colour in the left hand menu.

    Step 4: Tick the box next to the colour you require to select it. Your screen will refresh and show you only tulips in your chosen colour. You can tick as many colours as you like. We’ve chosen black and orange for this example.

    Step 5: For more information on a product and to add it to your basket, move your mouse over the picture and click on it (we’ve used Tulip Black Parrot as our example).

    Step 6: If you wish to purchase the product, use the up and down arrows to choose the quantity you want.

    Step 7: Click on the blue “add to basket” button.

    Step 8: To return to your shopping move your mouse over the “back to previous” message and click on it.

    TOP TIP: if you are logged in as a customer to the website, your shopping basket will not expire and you can keep adding to it as you wish.

    Step 9: To checkout and pay for your shopping, click on the “my basket” link at the top right of the page.

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  2. How to propagate dahlias

    Dahlias will grow in most soil types but are best planted in fertile, well-drained soil. Plant them outside from the end of April after the chance of frost has gone. Ensure they are in a spot that receives full sun and plant around 15cm deep adding well-rotted organic matter.

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  3. How to lift and divide snowdrops

    snowdrps

     

    Now is the time to think about lifting and dividing those overcrowded clumps of snowdrops as it is always best to do so as the foliage is just starting to die back. If you can, remove any spent flowers or seed pods to give the bulbs the best chance of developing and flowering the following year.

    Use a fork and dig deep underneath the clump so you don’t damage any bulbs or the roots; the roots are an important part of the snowdrop and too much damage here can result in poor flowering. Don’t let the bulbs dry and plant the snowdrops back (around 15 cm deep) as soon as you can. They love humus rich soil.

    Give them dappled shade and moist well drained conditions and their beautiful pure white bells will reward you for years to come.

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  4. How to force flowers from bulbs

    With a little knowledge and effort, we can cheat nature and bring some much needed spring colour into our homes in the depths of winter.

    Forcing bulbs is easy! You will need:

    1. A selection of containers such as bowls, jam jars or small plant pots.

    2. A selection of spring bulbs - we like to use crocuses, hyacinths, daffodils (especially miniature ones), miniature irises, grape hyacinths (muscari) and Siberian scilla.

    3. Some all-purpose compost, broken pots or gravel for drainage and something to cover your planted bulbs.

    First, cover the bottom of your container with a layer of drainage material, cover with a layer of compost and place your bulbs on top. Try to plant them closely but make sure they are not touching as they can rot if they are in contact with each other. Cover the bulbs with another layer of soil so the tips are just poking out and water carefully.

    Next, place your containers in a cold, dry place (a shed or garage would be ideal) and cut out the light with your cover - ensure the bulbs receive no light whatsoever! After around 8 weeks (a little less for paperwhite daffodils) you should start to see shoots. Once they’re around 5 cm tall, it’s time to bring them inside and enjoy them as they grow. It’s best they are kept in a cool light situation. If they’re too warm they’ll grow too fast and become weak. 

    Once you’ve enjoyed your early indoor spring, you can take the bulbs outside to grow again the following year. Follow our instructions here on how to do it.

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  5. How to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden

    As we've all seen in the news, bees are under threat from a loss of habitat and certain pesticides. We can help to reverse their decline by planting their favourite plants in our gardens. According to a study by Sussex University the best plants can attract up to 100 times as many insects as the worst ones. Choose carefully and you can have a fragrant and colourful garden full of the busy buzzing of our all important bees.

    1, 2 & 3. Lavenderachillea and dahlias, such as the happy singlecollarette and bishop varieties, are attractive to bumble bees because of their open, flat and easily accessible flowers.

    4. Pulmonaria are particularly popular with the wonderfully named hairy-footed flower bee.

    5. Buddleja is also, rather tellingly, known as the butterfly bush, is a magnet for butterflies because of its sucrose rich nectar.

    6 & 7. Lupins and penstemon have tubular flowers that are a favourite feeding place for the long tongued bumble bee.

    8. Campanula are a fabulous complement for your spring bulbs providing an early source of food for pollinators.

    9. Bees and butterflies can enjoy the lovely helenium for an extended period as they flower all summer. Their seed heads are also very attractive for birds in winter so don't clear them out too quickly.

    10. Globe Thistles (echinops) complement your lavender, penstemon and buddleja to provide a late summer feast.

    While you're busy making your garden pollinator friendly remember there are plenty of plants that act as deterrents to these industrious creatures. Rhododendrons, azaleas, trumpet flower "Angels Trumpet", oleanders, yellow jessamine, mountain laurel, heliconia, bog rosemary and amaryllis (grow these fantastic flowers inside only) have been found to be toxic for bees. Consider planting them some way away from your new found bee magnets.