Spring flowering bulb catalogues from the mail order nurseries are out now. Striking images of exquisite hyacinths, irises, freesias, anemone and ranunculus accompany photos of "must-have" tulips and daffodils in an amazing array of options.
Our local nurseries have supplies of all these varieties, but if you want the rarer winter and spring-flowering bulbs you often need to use the mail order outlets, and you need to get in early.
Tulips are one of the most popular bulbs and available in a huge array of colours and shapes and can be early, mid-season or late flowering. Lily tulips have elegant pointed petals while parrot tulips have petals that are ruffled and look like parrot feathers. Fringed tulips have incised petals making them look like they have fringe along the edge of the petal.
All tulips are naturally perennial, come back year after year and form clumps like any other perennial over time. However, some tulip varieties come back better than others, and many hybrid tulips produce one big very beautiful flower and so are best treated as annuals.
Varieties that come back or perennialise include the Species tulips are which are totally perennial.
Darwin hybrid tulips are one of the most reliable groups of hybrid tulips for perennial performance in the garden. They grow about 60cm tall, make gorgeous cut flowers and flower in mid to late spring.
Tulips grow best in areas with cold winters and hot dry summers. The New England's cold winters suit tulips well, but summer rainfall can lead to bulbs rotting. To prevent this, and to encourage your Darwin and other hydrid tulips to live longer, more like perennials, plant them deeper than usual - 8-10 inches or more below the soil surface and grow them in full sun in well-drained soil.
Now is the time to cut back any taller-growing perennials that have collapsed or spread over smaller plants and smothered them. Trim the tall floppy plants back to give the smaller ones a chance to recover.
The first meeting of the Armidale Garden Club for 2020 will be on Thursday, February 28, at 7:30 pm in the Uniting Church Youth Club Hall. Supper is provided.