BRIAN KIDD: How about a show of colour this autumn with amaryllis?

Brian has been fending off an attack on his Brussels sprouts plants by flea beetle
Brian has been fending off an attack on his Brussels sprouts plants by flea beetle

SOUTHSEA GREEN: Winter life at the community garden

0
Have your say

My Brussels sprouts plants have been watered every evening to keep them growing but as usual there is a pest which attacks them.

It is the flea beetle which attacks the centre of the tip of each plant and then the leaves become crispy and curled.

Plan ahead for some colour in the autumn with hardy amaryllis

Plan ahead for some colour in the autumn with hardy amaryllis

I put sticky card traps on short canes to catch the beetles and before I had finished this job the first cards had about six or seven beetles stuck on the glue –no chemicals used.

Now, back to the garden at home.

I spent the whole day cutting back blackberry growing from next door’s garden and put all the prunings into huge bags ready to take to the recycling centre, it isn’t a good idea to throw it back and upset neighbours.

Serious gardeners plan ahead and as the summer will rush by.

So what about a great show of colour in the autumn?

This is an excellent time to introduce some autumn flowering bulbs into the garden.

Have a look to see if you can find any of these; hardy amaryllis, nerines, autumn flowering crocus, autumn flowering cyclamen or sternbergia lutea.

They will be found in cellophane packs with a picture of the flower on the front of the pack.

It is important to find the right spot as all of these bulbs and corms must be grown in well-drained, well-prepared soil.

This means digging the area over to a depth of 10 inches and breaking up the clods into a fine tilth.

Blood, fish and bone meal is now scattered over the surface of the soil and this is worked into the top two or three inches of the tilth.

All of the bulbs are planted so that the tops of the bulbs are about half an inch above the surface of the soil.

Amaryllis are planted three inches apart, in a group of three. Nerines are planted three inches apart in a circle.

Sternbergia are also planted in a circle three inches apart and autumn crocus are lovely planted in a drift and they are all watered well after planting.

The flowers will appear in autumn and the leaves which make the bulbs grow appear in spring.

The cyclamen are best planted at the front of the border, the tubers are planted about three inches apart and simply pushed into the surface of the soil so that the tubers are half in and half out of the ground.

Again, flowers will be seen from early autumn and if the weather is cool they will provide tiny little flowers for about six weeks.

During the spring there will be a carpet of beautifully veined leaves.

I’ve just had a thought. You may not know what sternbergia lutea actually is.

These are often called golden autumn crocus and they look like huge crocus flowers on stems which are about four inches long.

They are a bit difficult to find but if you grow some, you will have an autumn flowering bulb which very few people have seen.

Visitors to your garden will think you are a specialist!

Now, what about something for the children, remember they like things to happen quickly.

Buy a colchicum bulb, they are called naked ladies, put one into the top of an egg cup without any water and place it on the children’s windowsill in the light. During the early autumn a pink flower will emerge miraculously followed by others a couple of days later, this always thrills children and you can explain they are called naked ladies because they have no leaves. After flowering, plant the bulb outdoors and put in a label because in the spring a set of huge leaves appear and they look a bit like the weed called dock.

All through summer the leaves are making the bulb larger, they have baby ones and the following autumn you will have a lovely clump of naked ladies.

My grandson David grew some a few years ago and he made my day when he telephoned me to tell me his naked ladies had three pink flowers!!

THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP

Remove single flowers on tuberous begonias which should have double flowers.

If we forget to do this even more single flowers appear.