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Summer Bulbs To Plant In Your Cornish Garden Now

Whether you’re a green-fingered goddess or an amateur fumbling with a fork (that’s me), it’s spring and the garden can no longer be ignored. Despite the windswept and soggy Cornish landscape, the countryside is bursting into life, with yellow gorse and fields of daffs and in the Great Gardens of Cornwall, the magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons are a sight to see.

Looking for some inspiration for the humble Muddy plot, I turned to Cornish horticulturalist Barbara Tremain for some creative ideas to keep us busy in the garden in the year ahead. I will share them in a series of mini posts (because I’m easily overwhelmed by gardening advice).

Over to you Barbara… “You can find lots of gardening advice by month online. One of the Royal Horticultural Society’s March must-dos is to plant your summer bulbs and I’ve found some unusual ones to complement the exotic style of planting that makes Cornish gardens so unique in Britain, due to the varied microclimates and milder weather. All the plants I have chosen from a specialist catalogue, have won the RHS award of garden merit, which means they not only look beautiful but have extra qualities like scent and being pollinator friendly.”

Arisaema Candidissimum (Pink Striped White Spathe)

Arisaema Candidissimum

Flowers June -September

Scented. 6-10” tall.

Plant in a cool shaded site in moist, well-drained, humus rich soil. Good for the Carrick Roads, Helford area, Arisaema, or Cobra Lillies as they are also known, thrive in woodland areas and damp gardens.

Orchid Flowering Dahlias

Orchid Flowering Dahlias

Flowers July-October

Lightly scented. 32” tall. Perfect for pollinators.

A new breed of a popular plant, with eight petalled, star-shaped flowers and petals that furl inwards towards their tips. Choose from the Dahlia Honka Fragile, which has white petals with purple pink edges or Dahlia Honka Red, which has red petals with yellow centres.

Dahlia tubers (roots) are edible and can be cooked like a potato and the flowers are good in salads too.

Hedychium Gardnerianum (Butterfly Lily)

Hedychium Gardnerianum Butterfly Lily

Flowers July to August (or longer, in Cornwall).

Sweetly scented. 49” tall.

These beautiful, yellow tubular flowers with red pistils are happiest in borders or pots. Start them in a pot to plant outdoors in May, in rich soil. Water and feed them copiously with liquid fertiliser (see my recipe below).

The rhizome (root) is edible, and a close relative to the ginger we buy in stores and are used to eating. If you place a piece of culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) into a pot or the ground it will grow into a plant like this one, producing an annual crop. In the warm, frost-free atmosphere and rich soils of the sheltered subtropical gardens in The Isles of Scilly, Falmouth and Penzance, these plants thrive all year round, virtually evergreen. The richly scented flowers blossom early and are long lasting. In colder, more exposed climes they are smaller and later to flower and the leaves will die right down in winter.

How To Make Your Own Nettle Fertiliser:

How to make nettle fertiliser

Nettle fertiliser is free and will feed your Ginger plants perfectly! This is one of the very useful purposes for this ‘weed’, as well as being a host to several butterfly species

  • Steep 1 ounce of nettles in 1 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes to an hour, then strain the leaves and stems out and toss into the compost bin.
  • Dilute the iron-rich fertiliser 1:10 and it’s ready for use

Good for Leafy plants and heavy feeders, not good for Tomatoes and roses

To enlist Barbara’s expert help in your own Cornish garden, email her at

Find more ideas here


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