Southsea gardens inspired me as a child – Brian Kidd

Orange ballerina tulips.
Orange ballerina tulips.
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Do you love tulips? This flower has always been in the forefront of my mind. It started when I was a little boy when my mum and dad took me to see the gardens at Southsea just after the war and Burgoyne Gardens and The Dell were magnificent.

In those days the promenade and seafront gardens were literally full of people and it was impossible to find a seat to have a rest.

We used to walk up to Canoe Lake and could always find a seat at Cumberland House gardens where there were gorgeous flower beds full of tulips and as you walked round you suddenly realised a lot of the blooms were perfumed.

Pam and I went to the garden centre and bought some tulips and the amazing thing is that the flower is already in the bulb. For if you cut the bulb in half and look inside, you can see the flower. It’s amazing, the flower bud is already in the bulb, all they need is moisture, light and air.

Let’s plant some!

The tulip is readily available, just look at the picture on the front of the pack and choose the colour you like best.

All tulips bought in packs will produce flowers because the bulbs are large, Beware if you see what appears to be a bargain in cheap magazines and the offer seems to be too good to be true. The bulbs will be smaller than normal and they don't all produce a flower, just leaves.

Here are some ideas for you to think about.

Blue looks great if grown with something pink and pink tulips are wonderful. Just look at the pictures on the packs. Orange Ballerina tulips are scented and stunning when grown with Golden Bedder wallflowers. The latter are fragrant and the tulips zoom above the wallflowers. Both will flower at the same time.

Make sure you plant them this month to avoid slug damage.

They need to be planted points upwards with three inches of soil above the top of the bulb. A tablespoon of sharp sand beneath each bulb will help protect them from slugs. The sand will ensure they are not in cold wet soil.

When our grandchildren were young Rebecca, who is 10 going on 15 and David, now nine, saw pictures on the packs of tulips and asked me which ones to plant? I recommended this. For little boys, plant Pinocchio; for little girls, plant Red Riding Hood, Seriously, both these are dwarf varieties but very strong and bold and excellent in windy gardens.

I thought I would mention our wonderful grandchildren and guess what – they planted the bulbs the right way up!

I adore tulips and hope you will find the colour you like best. Please don’t plant those which are labelled ‘mixed’.

Pink looks great with blue; red looks wonderful with yellow; orange is beautiful with dark blue forget-me-nots. Merry Widow, a pink, looks good with light blue forget-me-nots. See if you can find West Point, a most remarkable lily-flowered tulip, bright yellow with pointed tips on the flowers. If you can, your spring garden will be greatly admired.​​​​​​​​​​​​​


If the borders look a bit dull, cut off some sprays of evergreen shrubs and poke them intothe ground. This ground cover will look good for several weeks.