By Shelia Johnson
Its a well known fact that gardeners are obsessed by the weather. We organise our working lives by the clouds and the sunshine and we learn very quickly, as apprentices, that even the wettest and coldest of days will be cancelled out in our memory by a beautiful blue sky, or a glorious sunrise. This year we seem to have gone straight from spring to autumn with very little to recommend itself in between. Two fine days and a thunderstorm sums it up quite nicely. However, we are an optimistic bunch and there is always a little hope that September and October will be worth waiting for. So, if your hanging baskets and boxes are looking soggy and your borders have seen better days, hang on in there, it's time to plan for spring!
Love them or hate them, it's time to start thinking about hyacinths for Christmas flowering. Begin by buying bulbs for forcing which means that they have been specially treated to flower earlier than if they were put straight in the garden. Our dear friend Ron Womack always recommended putting the bulbs in the fridge for 24 hours to take the nursery heat out of the bulbs and to make them all the same temperature. This will make it easier to get your bulbs into flower all at the same time. Just don't mistake them for onions! Pot them up, 3 or 5 to a bowl, and make sure that the nose of the bulb is sitting proud of the compost. Don't bury the whole bulb! Put your pots in a cool, dark place for 8 to 10 weeks and only bring them into gentle warmth when the flower spike is showing above the neck of the bulb. After about another 3 weeks you will be drinking in that heady scent, so beautiful in the middle of winter.
The nurseries and garden centres are now fully stocked with Spring bulbs and in the muck and magic garden we are particularly fond of the miniatures which seem to cope with our coastal winds better and last a bit longer in flower. Tete a Tete is probably the most popular of the miniature daffs with its multi headed stems and dainty flowers. We also grow Narcissus Hawera which is sweetly scented and a variety called Jetfire which is reliable and long lasting with traditional yellow reflexed petals and an orange trumpet. Plant your daffs in September and October but leave the tulips until November. If you plant your tulip bulbs too early there is always the danger that the spring frost will damage them. Once again, the miniature tulip species are well suited to our east coast gardens. Keep a look out in spring for Tulip praestans Fusilier which has been extensively planted on soldiers graves in Dean Road Cemetery by the hard working volunteers. This is a scarlet red species which never fails to stun. We have also had some success with tulips from the Monte series which, although not miniature, are stocky and sturdy plants which will withstand the weather. If you are planting your bulbs straight into the garden don't forget that they need to be planted at twice the depth of the bulb so that the bulb is covered with its own height again of soil! Muck and Magic Garden Club will be reconvening after the summer break and the next meeting will be held at Ebenezer Church Hall on Monday 11th September beginning at 7pm. Our speaker will be Plant Scientist Peter Williams who will be talking about "Unnatural Gardening." Everyone is welcome. We are a lovely friendly bunch who just like to swap hints and tips andgardening gossip. For more details visit the muck and magic website, find us on facebook or contact us through the Scarborough Review.