The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: bulbs

Calla Lily – Zantedeschia

I have bought three bulbs of the Calla Lily. I am hoping to have them situated close to the pond. I know nothing about them except that for me they are expensive. I have read that they multiply annually so I hope I live long enough to see that. Initially, until the pond area is better prepared, I intend to grow these beautiful flowers in a pot. These bulbs don’t need to be dug up and stored over winter and I am glad about that. Overwintering of bulbs is one of the drawbacks of growing them I think,

The calla lily was originally found in tropical marshlands, which means it is a very thirsty plant that will not tolerate dry periods or neglect from the gardener. Either water the plant regularly during hot summer days or plant the calla lily where it can get lots of water without having to be in wet soil. If there is a small pond in your garden it will be perfect to plant calla lilies close to it  just remember that it needs to get to the water, since an artificial pond is not automatically in contact with the earth surrounding it. If this simple request of the calla lily is fulfilled, it will fill your garden. The calla lily is a hardy plant with very little needs but there are some nutritional considerations you might want to try. Just because calla lilies are sometimes considered weeds in their country of origin it does not mean that callas are hardy everywhere. However, if you give your calla lilies a little extra time and a weekly feed the result will show immediately with lots of beautiful flowers stretching up from the healthy plant.









The calla lily or zantedeschia is a genus of twenty-eight different species all native to the southern parts of Africa with a tropical climate from South Africa up to Africa aligned with the northern point of Madagascar. The genus calla was originally named by the famous Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus but as it became apparent that the genus needed to be split up the German botanist Karl Koch named the new genus after his fellow botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi from Italy. It became a major hit in Europe and is still very popular as a wedding or funeral flower.


Asiatic Lily Double Sensation – Lilium

Asiatic Lily Double Sensation from Farmer Gracy  has fantastic colour and lovely ruffled petals. It is perfect grown in a container for use on the patio or plant the bulbs in the border where they’ll come up every year. Lilium Double Sensation is one of the most exclusive Asiatic Lilies available on the market. Asiatic Lily Double Sensation is known for its double flowers which create an amazing impact once in full bloom. Planting this delicate and rare Lily variety in pots makes a nice and compact show as the flower size of double flowered Lilies is much bigger than other regular Asiatic Lilies. Double flowering Lilies are very rare and it often takes many years to cultivate and offer them on the market. Lilies are perfect for combining with other perennials, grasses or shrubs. They like to have cool, nourished roots whilst their heads reach for the sun but choose shallow-rooting plants to prevent them sulking at the competition for both nutrients and moisture.

I received these three Lily bulbs as a free gift with a delivery of bulbs from Farmer Gracy in the Netherlands. I have planted them in an existing pot of Violas. There was a space in the middle of the pot and the violas were gathered around the outside so I made a space for them. After reading up about them I think that maybe they will need a pot of their own as they will be bigger than I thought they would be. Update – I did move these bulbs to a bigger pot of their own and already green shoots are showing.

Probably the easiest to grow and hardiest of all the lilies, Asiatic Lilies are usually the first ones to bloom, flowering between June and August. Asiatic Lilies also have the widest range of colours but, unfortunately, most do not have a fragrance. Blooms vary in style, usually in terms of how they display their flowers. Some even hang their beautiful heads in a way reminiscent of pretty paper lanterns. Asiatic Lilies should be planted in full sun in soil that drains well. The bulbs don’t do well in soggy soil.

Freesia Mixed Colour Bulbs

I have planted twenty Freesia bulbs today in a large terracotta patio pot. I put them into Miracle Gro All Purpose compost. I have never grown these flowers before as I had always thought them to be difficult but this year I’m giving them a try. I have bought them in the past as cut flowers and love the perfume.

Cultivation has meant that Freesias are now available in more colours than the original wild South African yellow and white ones. These delicate, beautiful and fragrant flowers now come in shades of red, pink, orange, lavender and even bicolour. Excellent long-lasting cut flowers, Freesias give their blooms an uncommon display platform by bending the flowering tips of the 1′ stalks that each support about 8 funnel-shaped flowers, about 90 degrees and presenting the upward-facing blooms horizontally. Freesia bulbs like soil that has good drainage and prefer sunny places to grow. Freesias flower in late summer and autumn.

A bit of a challenge to grow but well worth the effort, these cottage garden favourites produce sprays of fragrant, funnel-shaped flowers at the ends of arching, branched stems in summer. A favourite with the florists as they are excellent cut flowers. They look superb planted in a mix border or in patio pots. So say These bulbs were planted on 11th March and today 1st April, are pushing through the soil.

Snake in the Grass

Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria meleagris –  Add plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to the soil prior to planting to improve soil.  Plant snakes head fritillary bulbs at a depth of 4″ and 4″ apart. The bulbs are fragile so always handle them with care. Planting them on their sides will help to avoid water collecting in their hollow crowns and prevent the bulbs from rotting. Divide from August to September. Information and picture from

I have tried to grow these lovely things before without any success. I now have fifty bulbs and have to decide where to plant them. Some plants men say that the flower is deadly poisonous. It has many common names as well as snakehead it is called lepers lily.

Grigson, in his Englishman’s Flora, calls the Fritillaria  meleagris snaky, deadly beauties, but there is little written evidence of harm.

On sunless days in winter, we shall know
By whom the silver gossamer is spun,
Who paints the diapered fritillaries,
On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Chionodoxa – Glory of the Snow


Chionodoxa bulbs are new to me and were part of a collection of Spring bulbs I bought from . I am planting them in a large pot for now but maybe next year when we remake the rockery and pond I can use them there too.

One of the first bulbs to flower in the spring, Glory of the Snow, creates a carpet of colour, naturalising well beneath trees and shrubs. These flowers also make a hardy and low-maintenance addition to rock gardens and spring patio pots where they’ll return year after year. Height: 6″ Picture and information from

Oriental Lilies – Lilieaceae

Oriental lilies prefer a moist, free draining, neutral to acid soil that is rich in organic matter. Prior to planting, add plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to the soil to give your lilies the best start. When growing lilies in containers, use a loam based compost such as John Innes No.2. Lily bulbs should be planted at a depth of approximately 3 times their own height and 15cm (6″) apart. Planting deeply helps to protect the bulb during particularly hot periods. Choose a sheltered, sunny position where lilies will grow with their heads in the sun and their roots in the shade. Information and photograph from T&M where I bought the bulbs.

I am ready and waiting for them to arrive which I’m told will be late November. I shall put them into two large black, square planters. Well the Lilies arrived this morning November 7th. Unfortunately I have run out of compost. I have ordered some more so another wait now until it arrives. The Lilies are sitting in the fridge for now. Friday 11th November. All the lilies are in now. I divided them up between two large pots, keeping one back to put directly into the garden in the white border.

Oriental Lilies range from 2′ – 6′  and their very large flowers emit a strong fragrance when they bloom in the later part of summer. Their flowers, often freckled or lined, tend to lift outwards or to the sky, as though soaking up the sun they enjoy so much. Blooms are usually wide open, with recurved petals. Not always the easiest lilies to grow, their large fragrant flowers make it worth the effort. Oriental Lilies grow best in full sun in rich, slightly acidic, and well-drained soil; like lots of water during the growth period and some mulch to keep their roots cool. Smaller varieties of the Oriental Lily do well in containers, and all make superb cut flowers. 13th March – The lilies are a foot high already and I plan to mulch with ericaceous compost tomorrow and move them out away from the wall and into a sunnier part of the garden. I am looking forward to finding out what colours I have.


Spring Bulbs


I ordered some bulbs from T&M at the end of last year but so far they haven’t arrived so yesterday I was tempted to buy some from Netto. They should have been planted in the Autumn but as they were only £2 I am going to risk it. They are a collection of pinks and whites and should look good if they get established. Our garden is not the sunniest place either so they are at a disadvantage all round.

Both the tulips; Van Eyk, pink and Purissima, white, are tall varieties and so is the Narcissus Salome so they can go in the back of the rose border round the side of the house. The Crocus Ard Schenk and the Allium Oreophilum will go in the new rockery around the pond. The Narcissus Thalia will be put into the white border.