Chronicle 10th of February 2009 | Chronicle 24th of March 2009 | All Chronicles

"The difference between weeds and flowers is that flowers are the easiest ones to pull out." Unknown"

25 February 2009.

A new day dawns. I go outside, encounter the squelchy, slushy snow and immediately decide to retreat inside. But the sight of a display of small snowdrops infuses me with a sense of spring.

Yes, yes, yes! Spring is on the way, the light has finally returned and the garden is slowly returning to life.

Something important happened today. I’m pre-planting bulbs and things are very busy at the moment. I’ve just received my large order of lilies from my Dutch suppliers. The bulbs have got to be pre-planted now. I open the large brown cartons with a degree of trepidation mixed with eagerness and happiness.

Where bulbs are concerned, the autumn is the main planting period, but unfortunately the spring planting of summer bulbs has been somewhat forgotten in Sweden. I don’t want to spend a summer without lilies en mass. But I’m trying to restrain myself a bit, so just now it’s a question of pre-planting 70 oriental Muscadet lilies, 50 Casablana, 50 African Queen, 10 Auratum (which will stand in pots), as well as 50 Golden Splendor, 10 Garden Party, and finally 30 Regale Album.

Dahlias are a plant I’m focusing on this year. I’ve not had them in the garden for several years, and after all that time I’ve come to miss them. This year I’ll be planting the dark red-black Chat Noir, the grand Akita, with its tones of red, gold and orange, and the crimson Garden Wonder. I’m really excited about it.

Today, 25 February, I’ve also put my sweet peas in water to soak. Remember always to do so with sweet pea seeds if they’ve been bought in a store. Let them soak overnight before being pre-planted in sowing soil. More about that later…

And now, to return for a moment to the subject of my lilies. Here they are. Everyone deals with lilies in his or her own way. Obviously, hopes are raised upon the arrival of the big brown bags filled with lilies that are destined to add a touch of splendour to the garden throughout the long summer months. Somehow, gardens manage to lift the soul. I think it’s something to do with expectations for the coming season. If you don’t have a balcony, a summer cottage or a garden, you can always find enjoyment in parks and public spaces; flora gives people hope.

I cannot imagine our garden with Casablanca lilies. They also bloom at a time of the year when most people have returned from the summer holidays, and so can enjoy them in the garden. In our garden, we’re talking about August-September. After thinking about the issue quite a bit, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to treat Casablanca lilies as annuals, in any event in our garden. There is, though, one spot in the garden where they come back year after year and reach a height of at least one meter –believe it or not, under a large silver birch tree!

My own method of dealing with lily bulbs is to pre-plant them now in February-March. I make a substrate by placing a few leca balls in the bottom of the pot and then filling with some soil. The bulbs should then be left in a cool place (preferably dark), between 0-5 degrees centigrade; make sure to water them thoroughly, and then leave them to their fate. They can be left in a garage, attic, etc. but absolutely not anywhere warm; the key words are– as cool and dark as possible. Check on them a few times during the late spring before it’s time for acclimatization, and finally plant them out once the worst risk of frost is over. So to people living in this part of Sweden I say: don’t be afraid to buy summer bulbs in the springtime.

As I mentioned last time, now at the end of February I’m really watering our Agapanthus down in the cellar. They’ve been standing dry for approximately 3 months, but I’m watering them now. Once again, there’s a bit of flooding in the cellar due to the watering! I give them some Krysan fertiliser and water them a bit; it’s important that they don’t dry out totally. As I’ve said previously, Agapanthus must be sitting tightly in the pot before they’ll flower.

Things are bubbling along nicely in the cellar and in the attic, and I’ve got seedlings standing in wait in the window. Away with the pots, now it’s the turn of the seedlings!

There’ll be life in the garden this year as well.

Well, I’ve been going on long enough. The light has returned to our cold Nordic climes and spring is approaching. It’s still quite a bit away, but right now I’m fully occupied with my planting and I’m looking forward to taking things easier. That’s how things stand now, on 25 February 2009.

Have a truly pleasant late winter-spring, dear garden friends.

Greetings from

A Gentleman Gardener