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Bulbs: Plant Now For Spring Colour

I’ve possibly told this story before, I can’t remember…. Anyhow, I remember years ago planting my front lawn, around this season, with daffodil bulbs. Tonnes of them, literally. Side-tracking slightly, the bit I love, the child like bit, that makes me almost want to go out every day to see if they’ve peeped their heads even ever so slightly above ground, is what does it for me. And it’s when they do that bit, that the effort, is made so very worthwhile. I know, kind of childish, a little bit.

Back to it, I planted one big massive dormant love heart shape covering the entire front garden in these yellow flowering Allium’s. For all of the world to see. In short, in hindsight, or at least at the time, I thought it was romantic…

My bruised arm definitely didn’t see it that way as they started to protrude and then come into flower.

And back to horticulture. If you are gonna do bulbs, my suggestion is to do it en mass. Plant them into your lawn, under plant the tree areas or alongside the front of your hedge. I did it on the road side opposite my home 2 seasons ago for people to take as they were passing by. There should be a lot, lot more this coming February. And that’s the other great thing about bulbs, you only need to plant once and then [pretty much] ignore them.

I might plant some this weekend with my little Ella. Dad and daughter things to do are very important. Personally, I like the fact that she gets to pick some for Grandmom. Free smiles all round are very much a good thing in any language. Even wee Ella’s babbling conundrums understand that one.

As a by the way. Twice the depth of the bulb below ground. Also note geotropism. And enjoy.

Hyacinth, Daffodil and Gigantic Onions. January Gardening.

giant onions

Whilst my garden needs a total overhaul to cheer up the Donegan household at the start of what promises to be another great year, I thought maybe I should do something to make an even greater smile come to those who visit my home.

Don’t get me wrong I’m halfway there as my hyacinths are just peeping into flower ready to scent the house with all its glory. When that goes I will of course have my daffodils ready to come on as well and fill the kitchen with even more colour.

Mammoth Onion Growers unite (mp3)

But have you ever tried growing mammoth or giant onions ? Onions, edible and all – but – they can grow bigger than footballs and up to 15lbs in weight. Take a listen….

As a by the way hyacinth were the first ever bulb I grew at about 6 years of age. the bulb cost me 7 pence. I remember being told manure was good fertiliser. I spent ages collecting and covering that bulb in dogs doo [?]. Back to the giant onions ?

Want to give it a go….. ? Just let me know 😉

hyacinth flower donegan landscaping dublin

Geotropism

The directional growth of an organism in response to gravity. Roots display positive geotropism when they grow downwards, while shoots display negative geotropism when they grow upwards. Also called gravitropism

source: The American Heritage® Science Dictionary 2002

It is also defined as:

the response of a plant part to the stimulus of gravity. Plant stems, which grow upwards irrespective of the position in which they are placed, show negative geotropism

source: Collins English Dictionary 2009

So why is the gardener throwing fancy nouns all over the landscaping blog…?

In very simple horticulture and specifically it’s relevance to you – here’s my breakdown of the above definition, for you….

if one should plant a bulb upside down – the roots will always grow south or upwards and the stem will always grow north or downwards. Fact.

In really simple terms, there is no incorrect way to plant a bulb or seed.

So why then do I see this on so many gardening blogs and websites…?

Plant the cloves the right way up! – like any other bulb, if it’s planted incorrectly they will never see the light of day – literally. The base of each clove should be pointing downwards while its peak should face the sun. Fairly obvious, one would assume, but the number of people who ask the question illustrates the need to make the point.

The video below is really terrible… but scroll, to about 30 seconds on the timeline and watch it until the end. It explains it extremely well.

The same theoretically applies to any plant, tree or shrub. This definition should not be confused with phototropism which is a plants stimulus or response to light.

A little further explanation…?

Plants can sense the Earth’s gravitational field. Geotropism is the term applied to the consequent orientation response of growing plant parts. Roots are positively geotropic, that is, they will bend and grow downwards, towards the center of the Earth. In contrast, shoots are negatively geotropic, that is, they will bend and grow upwards, or away, from the surface.

These geotropisms can be demonstrated easily with seedlings grown entirely in darkness. A seedling with its radicle (or seedling root) and shoot already in the expected orientation can be turned upside down, or placed on its side, while kept in darkness. The root will subsequently bend and grow downwards, and the shoot upwards. Because the plant is still in darkness, phototropism (a growth movement in response to light) can be eliminated as an explanation for these movements.

Several theories about the manner by which plants perceive gravity have been advanced, but none of them is entirely satisfactory. To account for the positive geotropism of roots, some researchers have proposed that under the influence of gravity, starch grains within the cells of the root fall towards the “bottom” of the cell. There they provide signals to the cell membrane, which are translated into growth responses. However, there have been many objections to this idea. It is likely that starch grains are in constant motion in the cytoplasm of living root cells, and only “sink” during the process of fixation of cells for microscopic examination. Roots can still be positively geotropic and lack starch grains in the appropriate cells.

A more promising hypothesis concerns the transport of auxin, a class of plant-growth regulating hormones. Experiments since 1929 have shown that auxin accumulates on the “down” side of both shoots and roots placed in a horizontal position in darkness. This gradient of auxin was believed to promote bending on that side in shoots, and to do the opposite in roots. Confirmation of the auxin gradient hypothesis came in the 1970s. When seeds are germinated in darkness in the presence of morphactin (an antagonist of the hormonal action of auxin), the resulting seedlings are disoriented—both the root and shoot grow in random directions. Auxin gradients are known to affect the expansion of plant cell walls, so these observations all support the idea that the transport of auxin mediates the bending effect that is an essential part of the directional response of growing plants to gravity.

landscaping dublin, gleditsia

November In The Garden

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It is that time of year… some say it’s bloody depressing. But I like it. I don’t know why particularly… maybe it’s that I get home [a little] earlier… maybe it’s that I get to burn the timber that I have mamaged to amalgamate over the last eight months or so… I don’t know. 😉

To the garden… mine and yours, this is probably the most important month/ season, for me, in the entire calender. It is what I do here that will pay most dividends come next season. So once again, this is what will I be doing in my garden this month and what I recommend you do in yours…

new plant trees trees ireland trees dublin

Top of my list is my trees. I’m now in a position where they can be cut back without all of that foliage in the way and so some crown raising will take place [removing of the lower branches…]. I’ve also got a batch that served a purpose until the others surrounding them matured and so I’ve got to move some and relocate others… if I don’t do it this year I am literally up the creek and next year it will become an impossible task. Stakes and straps at the ready….

berry fruits birds fruit cotoneaster-1

With the trees in mind and leave fall in place… it is time once again for the bird feeders to go back out. That and I need to get some other types of berrying plants into the garden to help those birds who don’t go to sunnier spots for their winter hols. Looks like a trip to farm supplies shop is looming….. or do I still have some in the shed…

In other news…. 😯 The apples on my trees had started to drop. It is at this point that the apples are about as ready as you will get…. I’ve picked them all now – except for the smaller fruits [about the size of a plum as they won’t taste so good – best leave them to nature]. Once again when the leaves fall off some select pruning will be required, removing dead and diseased wood and then the branches that over cross each other. If you planted yours in the last two years  make sure the straps and buckles aren’t too tight.

winter-colour colourful pots cyclamen 

If you are looking for some instant colour you’ll find there’s tonnes of it to be found – don’t those pots just cheer you right up 🙂 Some instant colour – from the plant department can however be bought in the form of ornamental cabbages and cyclamens. Add them to existing beds that need a little sprucing or redo those hanging baskets you took down last month…. g’wan you deserve to treat yourself!!

hedges lavender creative

Outside of that you [and I] still have to get those hedges cut… the plants still need to be trimmed back… and with that done… the mulch has to go down. This will leave the garden pretty much with its groove back on so it doesn’t look like a brand spanking new hair cut… more a well maintained garden, come Nanny & Poppa calling around for turkey and mulled wine for the celebrations December 25th 😉

Finally, trees and bulbs!! and finally [finally 😆 ]… herbs. Crop them and what you can’t dry store… pop them in ice cube trays… pour water on top and freeze. You’ll need them for cooking that big bird in a months time and believe me there once you move from dry herbs to fresh…. you’ll never go back. 

Have I forgotten anything…. leave me a note and I’ll add it to the list.

Enjoy!

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Allium Rosenbachianum

allium rosenbachianum - peter donegan file

This allium, also a member of the alliaceae/ lilliaceae family, the same as kitchen garlic [allium sativum] is probably my favourite bulb.

My favourite variety is this and of course Allium globemaster – mainly because of its yellow centre spot on a mre purple flower; akin to that of the solanum crispum glasnevin.

These guys do cost a little more han your average daffodil but well worth it and amazing as a cut flower on its own.

The stems of these guys can grow up to about 24″ tall upon which a 4″ diameter head sits on top.

I still look at it to this day and wonder ‘how on earth can your sister be stinking garlic… ?!!’. How inspiational life can be from such a breathtaking little piece of natures finest beauty. A fine specimen and well deserved of entry in my favourite plants list.