April is the peak of our spring flower season so I thought I’d take the opportunity to give you a roundup of our favourite varieties.
Galillee Pastels – We source these from Whetman and they come in a lovely range of soft pastels plus a few brighter pinkish reds and darker purples. We grow them in the polytunnel in order to give them winter protection. This year they started flowering in the middle of February and are still going now. They produce a range of different stem sizes, some of which are enormous. They continue to lengthen once cut. They are best harvested when the buds have just coloured up but aren’t yet open.
Bianco CN – Sourced from Italian Ranunculus, this stunning variety is white with a black eye (CN – centro nero is Italian for black centre). These are sometimes referred to as Panda Anemones. This is a much more attractive variety than the green centred white anemone which is often found in mixes.
When buying Hyacinths, you can purchase the bulbs in three different sizes: 14-15cm, 16-17cm or 18cm. These measurements are the circumference of the bulb around it’s widest part. The larger the bulb, the larger the bloom and also the large the price tag. We choose to grow 16-17cm bulbs becauses the margin on cut flowers is so small that it’s difficult for us to make a profit on each stem if we buy the largest bulbs. The other issue with the largest size is that these often produce flowers that are so large they become top heavy and are more likely to flop over. Hyacinths are one of our earliest flowers, blooming early in March.
Sky Jacket – a beautiful pale blue variety that has darker blue streaks on the petals.
The scented narcissi begin flowering in March and take us through into April. They have the most amazing fragrance and are also useful in arrangement as their smaller flowers, which are often borne in clusters on each stem, help to separate the larger focal flowers so that they can shine.
Earlicheer – a beautifully fragrant double flowered variety. In it’s first year it is fairly short but we hope that it will be taller in subsequent years. Similar excellent double, cream coloured varieties with longer stems are Bridal Crown and Cheerfulness. Bridal Crown flowers a little earlier than Cheerfulness.
Silver Chimes – the Whitest of the scented Narcissi we grow, this one has lots of single trumpet shaped flowers on each stem. Again, it’s fairly short in it’s first year but is taller in subsequent years.
We only grow double daffodils, having found that there is little market for single types. The double daffodils tend to arrive a little later than the smaller scented Narcissi and are at their peak in April.
Obdam – our absolute favourite Daffodil, this one looks very bridal and is perfect for spring wedding flowers. It has huge heads on long stems and is a complete stunner. It is prone to ‘blindness’ if conditions are too dry during bud formation so make sure it gets plenty of water in a dry spell. It’s equally likely to be battered by wet weather so is best grown with support. Suspending netting horizontally over a patch of these would help keep them upright.
Delnashaugh – Another wonderful double variety, this is white with salmon coloured frilly centres. Like Obdam, this had large heads on strong stems.
Ice King – An earlier flowering variety with a densely ruffled cup.
Pink Wonder – a pretty, delicate Butterfly-type daffodil. This one is a creamy colour with a salmon pink split corona.
Acropolis – A later flowering variety. Mainly white with a few small bright salmon petals that emerge at the centre. This is another large flowered variety
Calgary – This is such a sweet double daffodil. It’s heads are smaller than the other varieties and it often has a couple of heads on one stem. The trumpet is packed full of ruffled petals.
Wallflowers – wallflowers make excellent filler flowers in spring arrangements. At a time when there are a lot of large focal flowers all vying for attention, it’s great to have something more airy with lots of sprays of smaller flowers. They also have a beautiful, delicate scent. They can be prone to wilting so it’s a good idea to sear them by dipping the bottom inch of stem in boiling water for 15 seconds before conditioning them in cold water. These are the earliest flowering of the biennial plants (sown in June to flower the following spring). We grow two batches – a new sowing plus plants kept from the previous year. We find the two year old plants grown in the polytunnel do best, producing longer more usable stems. The year old plants come into flower a little later so it’s a good idea to grow two batches like this as a way of extending their flowering season.
Our favourite varieties are Sunset Apricot, White Dame and Giant Pink
These grow from dried, claw like corms that we source from Italian Ranunculus. They are the trickiest to grow of all our spring flowers, being prone to grey mould and stress from cold, heat, drought and overwatering!
Bianco (White), Rosa Chiaro (mid Pink) and Hanoi (pale blush pink) look stunning en masse. These are luxury flowers that are excellent for wedding arrangements.
Salmone is definitely the most popular variety we grow. It’s soft, frilly pale peach flowers are divine. There’s quite a bit of variability between plants of this variety with some being more pinkish and others more orange.
Striato – New to us this year, this is a very pretty variety. Again there’s quite a bit of variation between plants but broadly they are white with a picotee edge in varying shades of pink/red.
There are so many stunning tulips, it would be impossible to include all our favourites here so I’ve just included a selection. When choosing which varieties to grow, we tend to focus on the large Darwin hybrids and the later flowering large cottage garden varieties, plus some of the parrots and doubles. The varieties available through the supermarkets and wholesalers tend to be short stemmed with small heads so we deliberately grow larger, more unusual varieties as these are more popular with our customers.
Sweet Impression – probably my favourite tulip. This is our fourth year growing it and it has been reliably amazing every time. It has huge heads on very long, strong stems. It starts a pale pink with green stipes up the buds but opens to a lovely soft pink (seen here on the left) with striking markings that are visible when the flower opens up. The beauty of the flower is matched by that of the foliage which has delicate pink stripes up the leaves.
(Also picured above are La Belle Epoque and Purissima)
Apricot Pride – another close contender for the top spot. This is another sought after variety in pale blush peach, very much the colour of the moment. As with Sweet Impression, it has huge heads and long, sturdy stems. This one is very popular with florists.
Montreux – an early double that starts creamy yellow, before developing a subtble pinkish red flush on its petals.
Madonna – a wonderful white and green Parrot tulip. Particularly stunning in white and green wedding arrangements.
Green Star – another striking green and white variety with a quirky, spiky shape.
Big Love – another large tulip in a deeper pink colour. I particularly like the more waxy texture of this one and the mahogany colour of the stems as the flower bud is developing.
So that’s it for this month. I hope that’s inspired you with some spring varieties to grow if you’re new to cut flowers. If you’re already growing, we’d love to know what your favourite spring flowers for cutting are – do let us know in the comments.