bulb flowers

Tulips.  Metal engraving by Richard Earlom, based on the artwork of Philip Reinagle, for the book, New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnaeus:  And the Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature, published in 1807.


Plant of the Day

Monday 24 April 2017

Tulip Week - A container display to catch the attention of visitors with Tulipa ‘Suncatcher’ with raspberry-red tipped flowers extending up from a striking yellow base. In the same pot was Tulipa 'Holland Queen’ a yellow Rembrandt tulip with broad red flames and Tulipa 'Ile de France’ a cardinal red tulip with blood red colouring inside.

Jill Raggett

Student Activity: Bulb Planting

Bulbs come in all shapes and sizes: the larger bulbs pictured are Crown Imperials, also known as Fritillaria, along with Allium, which are known as Giant Onions.

Every fall at Longwood a mighty mission takes place, whereby a staggering 230,000 bulbs are individually planted! These bulbs spend the winter underground and bloom in the spring, to create Longwood’s famously spectacular springtime display. Last Thursday us students spent a day helping the team with this huge bulb-planting project, as one of our weekly activities.

Bulbs are underground batteries packed with energy and they help a plant to survive the harsh conditions of winter in a dormant state. The plant is then able to flower early in the year and harness the springtime light. The fall is the best time of year to plant spring flowering bulbs, as they are dormant at this stage of the year and at Longwood a mix of bulbs are planted including Tulips, Daffodils, Fritillarias and Alliums.

One of the main display areas for bulbs at Longwood, is the Flower Garden Walk, which is an historic pair of parallel borders, which are the length of two football fields. Each spring this area hosts a mix of bulbs, which are planted in blocks of colour, following the spectrum of the rainbow. In order to achieve such a large scale planting, a design is drawn up a year in advance and detailed orders are placed for the delivery of the bulbs. It then takes over a week of intense work kneeling down, for a large team of staff, students, and volunteers to first lay-out the bulbs and plant each one individually. Guests are always delighted to see the vast planting process and some ask whether we simply dump soil on top of the bulbs once we lay them out? However we reassure them that each individual bulb is dug in, 6 inches deep, using a trowel in order to maintain the pattern and design.

Curiously we started our day of bulb-planting, with an area of bare soil and having planted the bulbs, we also ended the day with bare soil. Come the Spring, the Flower Garden Walk will be ablaze with colour and we will be able to see the results of this hard work and the blooms of this buried treasure.

Here we are planting a mix of Tulips and Daffodils.

To ensure correct spacing of the bulbs, when laying them out, we use a pre-cut measuring stick. It is a tricky skill to keep the rows straight and uniform!

Fellow interns Spencer, Clare, Myself and Nathan, after a busy day laying out bulbs.

Thirsty work planting, on a warm October day.

Article and photos by Katy Merrington, International Horticulture Trainee


Plant of the Day
Tuesday 7 March 2017

Dramatic drifts of Crocus vernus (Dutch crocus, giant crocus, large-flowering crocus) cultivars include Crocus ‘Pickwick’ with large purple-striped flowers on a greyish-white background with orange stamens and stigma. These
herbaceous perennials grow from a corm, with linear leaves usually with a silvery central stripe.

Jill Raggett