Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gardening

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gardening

Article excerpt

THERE'S not much that Chris Blom doesn't know about bulbs.

As a director of Bloms Bulbs, the award-winning family-run firm which this year celebrates it 150th anniversary and its 60th gold medal at Chelsea, he has spent much of his life growing, developing and nurturing bulbs. You might think that after more than a century of development it would be easier to grow bulbs now than it was when the company first started, but that's not so, he says.

"I don't think it's easier, but the varieties you have now are stronger and the breeding's better so you get better displays. But the fundamentals of gardening remain the same today. "If you look at something like tulips, 'Alba Regalis', a lily flowered tulip, used to be very weak, thin-stemmed and small-flowered. Now you have 'White Triumphator', which is immensely strong and big flowered. The development of it came about before the Second World War, when they discovered the viruses in tulips and they bred that out of them to get stronger plants."

Many people make the mistake of not sufficiently watering their bulbs in pots in spring, when the flowers are forming.

"One of the biggest changes we've seen over the years is the increase in patio gardening. But if you are growing bulbs in containers, what people forget, especially around March when you can get some very dry weather, is that they do need watering."

While beds and borders dry from the top downwards, patio tubs dry from the sides inwards and top and bottom. Without enough moisture in the tubs, you won't get a properly developed flower.

Another problem can occur when tubs freeze in winter, he notes. The secret of a good display is to concentrate on five or six different types of bulbs, making sure you plant enough of each type to make a show. Dwarf bulbs should be planted in groups of 10, larger bulbs such as crown imperials and alliums in groups of three. …

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