Some of the members of the onion family, despite their smell, are very dec-orative in the garden and quite easy to grow in almost any. The smaller ones-are useful for . They flower from May to July and are good for cutting. When cut immerse the stems in plenty of cold water overnight, and the smell will have disappeared by next day.
When buying the plants, get advice from the bulb merchant and choose carefully, as one or two may becomeand be difficult to eradicate.
Plant anywhere, except in full shade, in October — the large bulbs 3 or -I in. deep and about I ft. apart and the small ones 2 in. deep and 6 in. apart.
Allium beesiamim, 4 to 6 in., with clear blue flowers. Likes a moister spot than the others.
A. caenileum (syn. A. azureum), 2 ft., sky-blue. Plant in as dry a place as possible.
A.famri, 3 in., the smallest of all, with drooping heads of small, red-purple blossoms.
A. flavum, grey leaves, golden flowers on 6-in. Stems.
A. karataviense, 8 in., pink. Lovely leaves, but flowers rather straggly for the garden though good for dry winter decoration.
A. ostrowskianum, 6 in., rose-pink.
A. rosenbachianum, 3 to 4 ft., purple-lilac.
Anemones are colourful flowers, 6 to 8 in. high and ideal for cutting. The main kind is the de Caen (giant poppy) anemone, and its St. Brigid forms. Plant in October for spring flowering, or in February for summer flowering, 2 in. deep and 4 in. apart in medium loamy soil in a sheltered position. Although the plants can be left in the same position for several years, provided the ground is good and they are fed, it is better to lift them, as in wet seasons they may suffer from rust disease. It is better still to buy new corms each year, since they are cheap. Recommended varieties of the single de Caen type are: Hollandia, scarlet.
Mr. Fokker, blue.
The Bride, white.
Recommended varieties of the double St. Brigid forms are: Lord Lieutenant, mauve. The Admiral, deep pink. The Governor, scarlet.
Smaller anemones for planting in drifts in October for early spring flowering are: Anemone apennina, about 6 in., blue. Plant in fully- or partially-shaded positions.
A. blanda, 3 in., blue, looks lovely in sunny positions at the edge of borders or among shrubs.
These plants grow from 1-½ to 4 ft. high, with star-shaped flowers of light blue, white or purplish-blue, and are excellent in early summer. Plant in early autumn, 4 in. deep and 4 in. apart in a moist soil, or even heavy clay.
The golden-yellow crocuses have been in cultivation for nearly -100 years and have never set seed. There are other coloured varieties, the large Dutch, which grow somewhat taller, and a selection of these is invaluable in the spring garden. There are also many wild species, which flower in the autumn, winter or spring.
Plant the spring-flowering species in the autumn, and the autumn-flowering species in August, 1 in. apart and about 2 in. deep. Plant in rough grass as well as at the edge of borders, between shrubs and beneath small trees. Mice love to eat crocuses, so plant a few more than are really needed. Sift naphthalene over the places where the crocuses are planted, or bury a mothball with each crocus when planting.
Although after flowering the foliage is untidy do not cut if off. Divide the plants when they become too crowded, probably after five or six years.
The best of the large crocuses are: Jeanne d’Arc, pure white. Kathleen Parlow, pure white. Little Dorrit, china blue. Maximilian, china blue.
Hyacinths are a doubtful proposition for the outdoor garden as they tend to topple over in rough spring weather. But their colours are good and their perfume exquisite, so for planting in a sunny sheltered position near the house buy the cheaper, less heavy, second-size bulbs. Plant in September or October, 3 in. deep and 6 in. apart, in light-well-drained soil. If the soil is in good condition the bulbs need not be lifted, and although their second-year spikes may not be as large as the first year’s, they will still be attractive.
The Dutch, English and Spanish irises are essentially plants for the summer border. The Dutch flower about early June, the Spanish, which are scented, about two weeks later and the English at the end of the month and in early July. They all grow to 1-½ to 2 ft. high and are excellent for cutting. If cut while in bud they will open in the house to perfect blooms.
Plant in October, 4 in. deep and 6 in. apart, except the smaller bulbs of the Spanish variety which are more effective at 4 in. apart.
The Dutch and Spanish prefer a light, sandy soil, but plant the English iris in a heavier, moister soil. All require an open, fairly sunny place.
The snowflakes flower in spring, summer and autumn and are easy to grow in any good soil in sun or half shade. The bell-shaped white petals of the spring and summer ones are spotted on the outside with green. Plant in autumn, 2 in. deep and 3 in. apart.
Leucojum aestivum, is in., flowers in April and May, has four or more bells. This is a native plant and the Gravetye form is better than the type. It likes a moist soil and grows well in full shade.
L. autumnale, 4 in., flowers in September and October, has slender grassy foliage and pink-flushed white bells, which appear before the leaves. Plant in light soil.
L. vernum, 6 in., has large single bells, in February and March.
Montbretias are useful as late summer flowers and are ideal for cutting. Their flowers grow to 1-½ in. in diameter on 12 to 15-in. Stems, and the colours vary from yellow through orange to red. They are not always hardy, particularly in heavy soils in cold districts where they should be lifted in October and kept in boxes of dry soil in a frost-proof place until the following March or April. The old varieties are the hardier and are listed below. Plant in spring, 4 in. deep and 3 in. apart in well-drained loamy soil. In cold districts if left in thewith a 2 to 3-in. layer of moss-peat, leaf mould or bracken. If the plants are happy they soon spread into clumps and appreciate a top dressing of well-rotted manure in summer. Divide the clumps every three or four years.
Aurora, pure orange.
Comet, bronze-maroon centre.
His Majesty, orange-yellow, crimson tips.
Lady Oxford, pale yellow.
MUSCARI (GRAPE HYACINTH)
When buying choose carefully as these plants vary, some growing so vigorously that they may become a nuisance. They will grow anywhere, in almost any soil, except in full shade, and have numerous little pinched bell-shaped flowers in conical heads, often sweet scented. All grow up to 8 in. and flower in April, with the exception of M. azureum, which is only about 4 in. high and flowers in February and March. Plant in September, 3 in. deep and 4 in. apart.
Muscari argaei album, white.
M. armeniacum, brilliant blue, scented.
M.a. ‘Cantab’, clear light blue.
M. azureum, light blue. The correct name for this plant is Hyaciiithus azureus but it is generally sold as Muscari azureum.
M.a. Album, white.
M. botryoides album, white.
M. tubergenianum, top flowers light blue, lower flowers dark blue.
Nerine bowdenii, produces a head of rose-pink lily-like flowers with waved petals on 12-in. Stems in September and October. Although not particularly cheap to buy they increase so freely that it is worth investing in at least one bulb. Plant in spring in loamy soil with the neck of the bulb just level with the surface of the ground. In cold areas, plant close to a south wall or cover in the winter with a 2-to3-in. layer of moss-peat, leaf mould or bracken and put a cloche over this temporarily to keep it dry.
Plant in October, 4 in. deep and 2 to 3 in. apart, in any soil.
Ornithogalum nutans, 6 to 9 in., with flowers white within and green without in April and May. Never plant in a border or rock-garden but always between shrubs or in grass. Can easily become a weed. O. pyramidale, a good plant for the border, bears spikes of star-shaped white, green-backed flowers on 2-ft. Stems in June. Ideal for cutting. O. umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem), 8 in., flowers white within, green striped white without in May. Similar habit to O. nutans.
Puschkinia scilloides(syn. P. libanotica), 4 in., a scilla-like plant that grows anywhere in sun. The whitish hyacinth-like flowers have a deep blue line down the centre of each petal, and bloom in March or April. There is also a pure white form. Plant in October or November, 2 in. deep and about l in. apart, in well-drained soil.
Scillas are easy to grow in any reasonable soil. Plant in September, the smaller bulbs 3 in. deep and 2 to 3 in. apart, and the larger bulbs 5 to 6 in. deep and 4 in. apart.
Scilla bifolia, deep blue star-like flowers on 4-in. Stems in February.
S. campanulata (syn. S. Irispanica) (Spanish bluebell), up to 20 large bell-shaped flowers on 12-to 16-in. Stems in May. Good for cutting. Available in many varieties. Recommended are:
, deep pink.
Myosotis, sky blue.
Peach Blossom, rose.
Queen of the Blues, purple.
White Triumphator, white.
S. peruviana, produces rosettes of large green leaves, 6 or more inches long from the centres of which arise large flat heads of deep blue star-like flowers on 6-in. stems. Blooms in May. Good for the front of the border.
S.pratensis, has pyramidal heads of blue bells on 6- to 8-in. stems in May.
S.p. Ainethyslina, similar to S. pratensis but a little larger.
S. tubergeniana, light blue flowers with dark median stripes in March.
Sternbergias grow to 8 in. and bear large golden crocus-like flowers in autumn, long before the leaves. They are not particularly cheap but if happy soon increase and give a wonderful show in the late autumn. Plant in August in a somewhat heavy soil, in a sheltered sunny place, 4 to 6 in. deep and 6 in. apart.
Sternbergia lulea, flowers regularly only in very hot dry positions.
S.l. Angustifolia, has narrow leaves, an excellent variety producing its flowers every autumn in any reasonably sunny place.
TRITELEIA or IPHEION
This charming little plant forms dwarf tufts of leaves and bears large star-shaped flowers, in April or mid-May. It is sweet scented, but if crushed the leaves smell of. Plant in autumn, 2 to 3 in. deep and l in. apart, in rich, sandy loam.
Triteleia uniflora, white or violet-tinged flowers.
T. violacea, violet-blue.
Zephyranthes Candida, 8 to 18 in., hardy. Has white flowers opening from a pink-tinged bud in autumn, very like a white crocus, and long narrow evergreen leaves. Needs a sheltered place in the sun. Plant in spring, 3 in. deep and 2 in. apart in loamy soil containing sand and leaf mould. When happy it increases freely and makes an ideal edging plant.