Home   What's On   News   Article

Advice on when to plant spring and summer bulbs from Hever Castle head gardener Neil Miller

September is here and the leaves are starting to turn…

It’s been the kind of month where I’ve found myself jumping into the abyss, I hasten to add, all in the name of charity.

Neil Miller raising money for chairty with an abseil (16539090)
Neil Miller raising money for chairty with an abseil (16539090)

The charity in question is Perennial, formerly the Gardener’s Benevolent fund.

Earlier this month, I found myself climbing the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park and throwing myself off the UK’s tallest sculpture, thereby completing the country’s highest free fall abseil with (what it felt like) just a couple of ropes attached!

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to gardeners if they fall on hard times, or if they just fall and hurt themselves, then wonder no more, and instead take a look at Perennial’s work.

Celebrating their 180th anniversary this year, Perennial helps anyone who creates or maintains gardens, parks, sports facilities and other green spaces when they are facing tough times.

Formerly The Gardeners’ Benevolent Institution, Perennial was founded on 17 January 1839 in London to provide income for gardeners, typically Head Gardeners, in retirement. The fund

recognised that these men (and latterly women) had worked all their lives in low-paid roles on estates and had no means of looking after themselves in their later years, and often had lost their homes if they were tied to the estates where they worked.

Neil at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit
Neil at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Charles Dickens and Robert Peel were both keynote speakers in the 1840s and ‘celebrities’ have continued to support Perennials cause, right up until today.

The financial and social pressures on those working in and retired from horticulture are acute, particularly in the economic downturn, as horticulture professions are still relatively low paid and

just as physically gruelling. Perennial is a ‘lifeline’ for many, providing free and confidential advice and financial assistance to over 1,200 people every year.

I have long been a supporter of Perennial. They provide free and confidential tailored one-to-one advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in, or retired from horticulture. It was a real privilege to have hosted their team at Hever in Bloom this year.

Tulips in the Italian Garden at Hever Castle(16539098)
Tulips in the Italian Garden at Hever Castle(16539098)

Back in the garden at Hever Castle, we’ve been really busy getting ready for spring - I know that it might sound a bit odd that as the leaves turn red,gold and brown and begin to fall our thoughts turn instinctively to daffodils and tulips, but now is the very best time to begin planning your spring and early summer bulb purchases.

I’ve had my eye on some new daffodil varieties for our Dazzling Daffodil show next year and I’m also starting to buy in my tulips.

If you fancy experimenting with new and unusual bulbs, then it’s definitely worth scanning the catalogues now for unusual alliums and agapanthus. Very young agapanthus may need a year before they’re ready to flower, but these gorgeous plants are hugely versatile and enjoy being planted in patio pots or straight into the bed or border. These bulbs are often planted in mid January or February but it’s worth scouting about and putting your order in - especially if you’re going for a specialist variety.

If you’re going for alliums- then go big and buy in bulk because these beauties really work well when they’re planted in larger numbers. They’re easy to grow, as long as you avoid damp sites. They thrive in sunny positions.

Plant your alliums in early autumn
Plant your alliums in early autumn

Plant your alliums in early autumn at a depth of four times the diameter of the bulb. You can also plant alliums in deep pots with a peat free compost and horticultural grit. If you’re planting in pots

then make sure you over-winter them in a sheltered spot and you can wrap them or keep them in the greenhouse if it turns really cold! They don’t need much in the way of tending, but it’s worth giving them a feed in the spring.

The leaves really are starting to turn, so make sure you’re ready with your rake this autumn and your bulbs are on order!

More by this author

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More