GARDENING: Help save the freesia – buy now if you can find them, says Brian Kidd

Save the freesia
Save the freesia
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I have very often mentioned that if we don't buy bulbs garden centres won't sell them and I fear I am right because we have not seen any freesia bulbs on sale at any of our local garden centres. What a blooming shame!

If you would like to grow some and help save this beautiful, easy-to-grow gem, go online and you will find stockists.

September is a good time to plant freesia corms for flowering next Easter.

They are one of the most fragrant flowers which may be grown in a greenhouse or conservatory. All they require in the way of heat is the assurance that the temperature won't fall below freezing.

If you have no greenhouse, these beauties may be grown indoors provided you have a large window with plenty of light.

Mind you, be warned, by the time Easter arrives you will think you live in a field because their grass-like foliage grows like mad and can easily reach four feet in height if grown in a window.

I have never known such an untidy plant either, great grassy leaves which fall over the edge of the pot or when they are tied up with all sorts of sticks and string, appear more like a bonfire than a cultivated gem.

Seriously, freesias can be supported with hazel twigs or other fan-shaped sticks so the foliage doesn't flop about all over the place.

Place about five pieces of hazel, or beech, spray-shaped twigs about two feet high all around the edge of the pot and you will soon see most of the sticks are hidden or disguised by the foliage.

I remember being shown how to do this when I was an apprentice gardener.

Bill Hedges (yes, really!), the head gardener at the Staunton estate, was a wonderful inspiration on how to do things correctly. He used to say: ‘If it’s done properly, the sprays of hazel won’t be visible in a few weeks.’

Freesias enjoy quite a deep root run, so a six-inch clay pot is ideal in which to plant the corms at any time now.

Use John Innes number three compost inserting five or six corms around the edge of the pot ensuring the corms are buried with just the tips showing at a height of a quarter of an inch above the compost surface.

Water well and always keep the compost moist but never stand the pot in water for days at a time otherwise they will fail.

Why use a clay pot and John Innes compost? A clay pot is six times heavier than a plastic one and JI compost is twice as heavy as loamless compost. This will help prevent the plant falling over when it grows tall.

If you have not already bought your freesia corms, they may be available in attractive packs at garden centres. If you so find some perhaps you would let me know where you bought them?

Make sure they are the indoor types because some areespecially treated to flower in the garden. These are not suitable for growing during the winter. The colours are normally mixed but let's hope you get some red ones and gold ones.