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Crocus Buying & Cultivation Tips


Crocus Cultivation Tips


  • Allow foliage to die back. Do not tie foliage because it weakens the bulb and flowers for next year.
  • A little bonemeal in spring will help build up corms and bulbs for next year.
  • Crocus often like a rather heavy but well drained soil. Enrich sandy soil with leafmould.
  • If troubled with mice or squirrels eating corms, place wire netting just below the soil surface.
  • Bring a pot of Crocus into the house when the first buds show and keep in a light cool spot.
  • Allow species crocus to self seed to increase your display in years to come.
  • Suspend black cotton over the buds to stop them being attacked by birds.
  • After the foliage fades Crocus can be lifted and split every 4-5 years to avoid over crowding. Leave them be if they are naturalised under grass.
  • Mulch with garden compost only sparingly 5cm deep.

Types of Crocus

Colchium Autumnale Album

  • Autumn Crocus  flower before the leaves and are also sold as Colchium. If autumn is dry water the corms.
  • Crocus vernalis tend to have larger bulbs and spring blooms.
  • Crocus chrysanthus like sun or light dappled shade and a lighter soil.
  • Species Crocus Tommasinianus, C.sativus, C. angustifolius C. biflorus, C. korolkowii and C. olivieri will grow well under a late leafing shrub.

ledsham crocus

Buying Hints and Advice

  • Buy firm plump bulbs.
  • Avoid bulbs that are in the least bit soft.
  • Avoid bulbs which are already sprouted and showing green.
  • Avoid any bulbs that show signs of fungus, spots, rot or mould.
  • Buy as soon as Crocus become available and plant September-November


I have just planted 100+ crocus around a new Paperbark Acer and a similar number in a variety of pots and containers. When the containers have flowered the crocus will be fertilised and planted out.

See our other photos
Bulb: A Hand-Picked Selection of the World’s Most Beautiful Bulbs by Anna Pavord is a personal selection and authoritative guide to the most gorgeous bulbs on the earth.
Anna Pavord, world-famous author of “The Tulip”, writes charmingly about her favourite subject from Acis to Zigadenus via Tulip and Crocus.


Hedgerows Worth Watching

Hedgerow flowers

January started the year quite well with a few early snowdrops and the remnants of primulas. February will be even better snow permitting. Leap forward to June which is a spectacular month for flowering hedgerows and particularly in the under-storey.

Identifying plants whilst out walking as a child, was my first introduction to the environment and natural gardening. There is still a buzz seeing a plant growing in the wild that some careful gardeners has subsequently developed for the garden or nursery trade.

Why not under-plant your garden hedges with native species of hedgerow flowers. The trick is to leave them undisturbed, unfed and untreated with chemicals. I would bank up the soil to start your hedge’s lower storey.

Hedgerows by County

  • I nominate Somerset as my favourite hedgerow county but I would like to know what other UK counties can lay claim to be hedgerow county 2010.
  • Cornish hedgerows have a soil banking (so that helps the smaller plants) with a rocky top and shrubs.
  • Devon hedges are similar to Cornwall but with turf on and at the top of the banking.
  • The Yorkshire Dales tends to have dry stone walls rather than hedges but the understorey plants can still be attractive.
  • In Perth, near Blairgowrie, is the tallest and longest hedge on earth. Meikleour Beech Hedge, planted in 1745, is 98 ft in height and nearly half a mile long. (I wouldn’t want to trim it).

Book Cover

‘Hedgerows, moors, meadows and woods – these hold a veritable feast for the forager.’ and all is laid bear in the River Cottage Handbook. Book link

The English Hedgerow Trust provided this apposite quote from Shakespeare.

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite canopied over with luscious woodbine
With sweet muskroses and with eglantine.

For a bit of fun read Copper Beech Hedges
Green Garden Habitats


Gardeners Year for Organic Fruit and Veg

Book Cover

‘Organic Fruit and Vegetable Gardeners Year, The A Seasonal Guide to Growing What You Eat’ by Graham Clarke

Yesterdays Gardeners Question Time on radio 4 featured many questions on this subject. The main advice that appealed to me was to concentrate on growing more fruit. (We all more likely to take the advice we want to hear.)

Gardeners Tips on Organic Fruit Growing

Organic Principles
Organics should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animals and humans as one.
Organic growing is based on ecological systems and cycles that are worked with and sustained.
Organic gardening should be done in a precautionary manner to protect the health and well being of current and future generations.
Organics promotes the concept of fairness with regard to common environment and life opportunities.

Soil Fertility

Chemical fertility is the availability in the soil of all the elements, nutrients, ions,   traces and inorganic chemicals that plants need to grow.
Biological fertility includes micro organisms that help nutrient recycling’ including fungi, bacteria and protozoa that clean up bacteria. It also covers macro organisms such as arthropods that break down organic matter in the early stages of decomposition, worms that help drainage and aeration and nematodes that help in various ways but   occasionally act as pests.
Physical fertility is the mix of sand, silt and clay that makes up the soil and determines texture, ability to hold water and sustain life.

Weed Management Continue Reading →


Dangerous and Mind Altering Plants

Many plants have dangerous components, leaves, seeds and roots. Some of the most dangerous must be grown under government license.
Below are notes on just a few plants to avoid eating.

Mandrake is one of the most poisonous plants that is known. The specimen above is grown under strict control with a fence around it. A member of the nightshade family, Mandrake also contains atropine, scopolamine, apoatropine and hyoscyamine that affect brain functions.

Strychnine, the deadly poison, is produced from the beans of Strychnos ignatii. It is also found in the orange fruit and nuts of Strychnos nux vomica.

Ricin is a poison found naturally in the seeds of the Castor oil plant that also produces the oil that is fed to babies. Ricinus communis ‘Gibsonii’ has red-tinged leaves with reddish veins and pinkish-green seed pods but there are other Castol oil plant varieties.
If castor beans are chewed and swallowed, the released Ricin can cause injury.
Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans into castor oil.

Mescaline is a hallucinogen compound made from the small, spineless cactus Lophophora williamsii or Peyote. It is also present in other cacti including Echinopsis peruviana.
Mescaline is also found in certain members of the Fabaceae bean family.

Book Cover
Continue Reading →


50 Best Seed Merchants and Catalogues

Since I put this list together 7 years ago but I have now started to favour Kings Seeds (Suffolk Herbs) for my vegetables. I also get many more seeds from clubs and organisations rather than merchants.

Seed catalogues


My Regular Suppliers

Thompson-Morgan have 2206 different packets of seeds. Their catalogue is one of the most colourful and once on their list you get regular offers. They are a good partner to Gardeners Tips and if you buy via our link we get a small commission that helps with our costs – Searchable T&M site.

Wallis Seeds have a new web site and are based in   Chelmsford Essex . I like buying by weight for some varieties that I can scatter willy-nilly so 15 gms of Calendula ‘Pacific Beauty’ and ‘Art Shades’ are on the way .

Chiltern Seeds of Ulverston Cumbria have  a 220 page densely packed catalogue.  They are good for providing Latin names and  flowery comments on each variety.

Vegetables Seed Suppliers

Continue Reading →


Grow a Low Allergy Garden – Scent and Smell

Hay fever and Asthma attacks can be brought on by Scented Plants as well as pollen or Fungal Spores. Histamin problems can also be exacerbated by scent and smells in the garden.


Tips to cut Spores and Fungus

  • Ferns reproduce by sending out millions of spores from under the leaves. If you suffer then do not grow any ferns.
  • Fungus and mould are common names for a large variety of mycelium like Alternaria that grow on dead and rotting plants. They reproduce by light invisible spores that are distributed in the air usually in late Summer and Autumn.
  • Reduce the concentration of spores by good husbandry, keep rotting plant matter to a minimum, don’t use bark as a mulch, dustbin infected leaves and more drastically remove hedges that collect spores
  • Compost heaps are home to fungus and ideally should be avoided if you are allergic but a closed system rather than an open pile will be better.
  • Spent mushroom compost can be an allergy disaster – don’t use it.
  • Organic compost and mulch may be a problem but coconut shell is probably one of the lower spore hosts. Compost in a closed container.

Scented Plants are generally pollinated by insects feeding on the nectar. This can include wasps and bees so if you are allergic to stings avoid such plants. Some people are sensitive to a range of smells and perfumes or just the scent of one plants such as a lily or honeysuckle and in this case choosing plants for a garden can be an issue.

  • Aromatic leaved plants like many herbs only give off a scent when brushed or crushed so it may be worth growing herbs but take care with Lavender.
  • If you are allergic to Daisies you will also potentially be allergic to Asters, Chrysanthemeum and other members of the same ‘compositae’ family.
  • Don’t sniff individual plants
  • Many double flowered varieties attract pollination by colour and have less scent.
  • Fruit attract wasps so if allergic to stings don’t grow them or have another member of the family grow them well away from windows into the house.
  • Some allergies are related to individual plants like Strawberries and Tomato so watch for individual reactions and root out offenders.
  • Deciduous trees have more pollen than evergreens.

For a short video watch
Read more about pollen in a low allergy garden

Some top tips from the Asthma society of Ireland for creating an allergy friendly garden include;

1. Choose plants that are pollinated by bees, the pollen is heavier and sticky and therefore stays on the bees rather than floating around the garden.
2. Avoid wind pollinated plants which disperse copious amounts of pollen into the air.
3. Avoid plants which are intensely fragrant as they can be a trigger for allergies and asthma.
4. Choose female plants, as they produce no pollen. Sterile male plants are also a good choice.
5. Grass is a major pollen producer so mow your lawn regularly, before it flowers.
6. Wear a mask when mowing lawn or trimming hedge.
7. If possible replace your lawn with gravel
8. Replace organic mulches with inorganic mulches
9. Avoid ornamental grasses in your planting schemes.
10. Remove hedges which harbour dust, pollen grains and mould spores which can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.


1000 Gardens to Visit and other 1000’s has now reached over 1000 tips on this blog. To celebrate this milestone I have looked for other notable 1000’s and have come up with the RHS Garden Finder last published in 2007 – 2008. This publication advertises ‘More than 1,000 gardens to visit and enjoy‘ and is a weighty 500 page reference book edited by Charles Quest-Ritson. Available from Amazon at a remaindered price from 1p plus postage.

Listing gardens to visit by country and county within the United Kingdom it also lists all the NCCPG National Collections. I guess the Philadelphus collections at Pershore College and The Hollies Park Leeds will smell just wonderful on the first of July.

Not to be out done on the tips front Readers Digest publish ‘1001 Hints and Tips for the Garden‘ with more contributors than you can shake a pea stick at.

Amazon also sell a couple of books celebrating one thousand including ‘1000 Fuchsias’ by Meip Nijhuis and ‘Emeralds 1000 Green Flowers and 500 Choice Green Foliage Plants’ by Karen Platt


Tulips from Catalogues

Tulips grow from bulbs not catalogues but I guess that is obvious. Nevertheless I think the first job is to check over any Tulip bulbs you lifted last spring to dry off. Bin any with mould or soft centers, do not add them to your compost heap.

There are many bulb catalogues now available and they usually supply a lot of information about the Tulips origin, size and flowering characteristics. If you are not on a mailing list you can respond to numerous off the page adverts in the press and magazines.
I like J Parker for the range and wholesale prices on larger volumes.
Bloms bulbs have been around for over 100 years and supply good size bulbs at a price and DeJager is another old established supplier.
Spalding bulbs are over marketed with too many gimmicks and free gifts so personally I tend to avoid them.
Of the many other bulb sources most seed companies supply bulbs by mail order but I particularly like the niche suppliers like Miniature Bulbs.

The big plus from mail order catalogues is that you can browse the pictures and specifications selecting the types and varieties you want. On the down side you are trusting that a good sized bulb will be supplied (a good big one beats a good small one). Remember too complain if you are unhappy with the bulbs you get, most companies value their reputation amongst gardeners.


Gardening Consequences of a long Holiday


Will I learn from my 4 week holiday traveling Europe by train? Probably not but I can list some of the gardening events that need to be considered next time I take off.

Short Flowering Season

  • Dahlias were just coming into full bloom as I left for my holiday. I had carefully prepared the ground this year with extra helpings of horse manure as I know Dahlias are heavy feeders, a bit like the horses themselves.
  • Without the deadheading, that I would have done, they now look well past there best and are running to seed. Never the less I have cut them back quite hard in some cases and if we get a frost free autumn I may get a subsequent flush of flowers.
  • Most flowers are genetically programmed to produce seed to continue the species and when this is done the energy for flower production goes into seed production and winter survival.

Friends and Neighbors

  • My greenhouse had been well tended in return for a supply of tomatoes. The Gardeners Delight cropped well and were sweet and juicy but the cool weather in early September  has slowed the ripening of the larger varieties.
  • I ordered some plug plants, long enough ago to have forgotten, for delivery late September.  As you would expect they arrived in August just after I had left. Fortunately they were noticed on my doorstep and taken in by a sensible friend who has saved my 150 or so plants.
  • The kids came and looked at the house and watered the houseplants once each, two days apart! So no water for 3+ weeks than a double dose.
  • I was willing to sacrifice my pot plants but unrequested watering by another friend has prolonged the begonia flowering and they look a treat.

Internet Gardeners Tips

  • Before leaving I preplanned a series of web page postings – you can predate your pages. Sorry I didn’t manage to cover the whole period but only a week has gone by with nothing.
  • I now need to get some autumn photographs to help illustrate the next batch of Gardeners tips pages.

Welcome to Gardeners Tips Blog

The original post on 5th April 2008′ was entitled welcome to the Compost Heap.’

It started off ‘Welcome to our blog of gardening tips and advice.

Articles will vary from simple tip pages to more complex advice about different species or aspects of gardening.’

Update 31 July 2016 from Hortoris

  • In over 8 years we have ‘posted’ over 1600 pages and even more photographs, onto our hobby website.
  • At the peak we were getting over 2000 visitors a day. Until recently that is when Google changed the way we were ranking on some key pages.
  • It is an important motivator to know that our words are being read and our pictures viewed.
  • To win back some of our old viewers we will be upgrading many of the articles and top tips over the next few weeks.
  • We can’t be sure to get it right so if you have any views or contribution to make please let us know on comments below or via twitter. (I am a twitter novice so do not expect miracles just yet)
  • If you think the site is a pile of dung fit only for the compost heap then tell us that as well.

The photographs are pictures of parts of the garden from our upstairs windows.


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Gods Own County Continue Reading →


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