I had a lovely letter from Chris who lives at Denmead.
She loves tulips but the squirrels pinch them and have the cheek to hold them in their paws, gnawing the bulbs and ignoring her waving her arms around!
I had to smile and share her experience with you all.
This is the very best time of year to plant tulips because there is far less slug damage and, as I mentioned a fortnight ago, people aren’t buying them.
At Keydell Nurseries you will find all bulbs have been reduced by 25 per cent.
Be warned, if we don’t buy tulips the garden centres won’t stock any more.
Have a look at the attractive pictures on the fronts of the packs and you will certainly find your favourite colour, because no other species of plants has such a wide variety of colours and shapes than tulips.
See if you can find orange tulips. These are gems when planted with light blue polyanthus.
Pink tulips look wonderful with forget-me-nots or dark blue polyanthus.
What about pots and containers? Lots of gardeners have them and quite often they have nothing in them during the winter.
Go mad and have a look at the dwarf tulip pictures on the fronts of the packs. Red Riding Hood is short with liquorice stripes on green foliage, very attractive and loved by grandchildren.
Pinocchio is red with white stripes, only 12 inches high and one of the best if you suffer from the wind (my little joke).
Red ones such as Oxford or Apeldoorn Red are perfect planted with Golden Bedder wallflowers. You will have the combination of contrasting colours with the added advantage of perfume from the wallflowers.
At home we have just finished planting 750 wallflower Golden Bedder right through our front drive underneath a Leylandii hedge.
Wallflowers and tulips enjoy well-drained ground but wallflowers thrive underneath that boring hedge and bring a splash of sunshine in an otherwise problem border.
In three other areas where the ground is well drained they have been planted eight inches apart in huge carpets with red tulips in between.
A teaspoon of sand beneath each bulb will encourage excellent roots.
Now, to go back to Chris’s problem with squirrels, cut up a shallot into quarters and put one quarter over the top of the tulip bulbs when planting. The shallot disguises the smell of the tulip bulb and squirrels don’t like the smell of shallots. Simple!