spring display

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

Entertainer Dudley Moore gets the lowdown on ‘Sexpuss’, the latest cutaway boots in purple suede by Ravel (Boutique in Carnaby Street), at the Spring collection displayed in London which Dudley compered. October 25, 1966.

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Plant of the Day

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Tulip Week - Tulipa ‘Amazone’ planted with pink flowered Myosotis (forget-me-not) as a striking spring display prior to the roses in summer at Pashley Manor, East Sussex. The new red foliage of the roses can be seen at the back of the border.

Jill Raggett

My Ever After High collection as of 2/6/16

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Plant of the Day

Friday 3 March 2017

Carpeting the soil under this Quercus robur (oak) tree are the long-lived tuberous perennial Cyclamen coum (eastern cyclamen) with Galanthus nivalis (snowdrop). The shocking pink flowered Cyclamen have gradually self-sown and naturalised, providing a winter and early spring display. The rounded leaves sometimes have silver markings on the upper surface which provide another display value for the winter garden. 

Jill Raggett

Noticing that the pile of brochures was running low at the “Taste of Scotland” stand, Brody reached beneath the food stand to grab a handful of brochures, careful not to bend over and reveal too much. As he stood upright he tugged at the side of his kilt to ensure that it was still secure. He didn’t trust his mom when she said it would be. Refilling the brochure holder he looking around, popping a piece of black pudding in his mouth. Plenty of people came over to have a look at the food on offer: black pudding, haggis, potato scone, caramel shortbread, and smoked salmon. Cans of Irn Bru were being kept cool in the ice bucket. The salmon and caramel shortbread seemed to be going down a treat but so far nobody had been brave enough to try the haggis or black pudding. He turned the traditional Scottish bagpipe music up a little bit as he picked up a sample tray from the table. Brody stood in front of the stand, beginning to dance a little in the hopes of grabbing people’s attention.

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Happy Arbor Day from Table Rocks in Oregon.

The 4,864-acre Table Rocks Management Area is cooperatively owned and administered by the BLM and natureconservancy.

The Table Rocks were designated in 1984 as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) to protect special plants and animal species, unique geologic and scenic values, and education opportunities. The remarkable diversity of the Table Rocks includes a spectacular spring wildflower display of over 75 species, including the dwarf wooly meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila), which grows nowhere else on Earth but on the top of the Table Rocks. Vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), federally listed as threatened, inhabit the seasonally formed vernal pools found on the tops of both rocks.