With his partner Graham Robeson, Alan Gray has developed Norfolk’s East Ruston Old Vicarage into a remarkable 32-acre garden. From colourful crocus to cheerful narcissus, bulbs are vital to their borders.
Alan Gray’s bulb recommendations from East Rushton
All crocuses are good but, for me, Crocus tommasinianus in all its varieties is just the tops. They are early, dwarf, and self-seeding. Grow them all together and the resultant seedlings will vary in hue.
Hyacinths are good for containers, but you should err on the side of caution and go for the multiflora varieties with smaller flower spikes. They’re less inclined to flop but have many more stems per bulb. One exception, Hyacinth ‘City of Bradford’, grown for the cut flower trade, almost defies description. What colour is it? Blue, mauve or pink with a touch of sludge? Then there are three new tulip varieties that I can’t resist trying.
Tulipa ‘Danique’ is a dwarf, multi-headed variety in shades of pink and cream with hints of brown. T. ‘Go Go Red’, is a T. acuminata lookalike with brilliant red thread-like petals opening gracefully, like some enchanting sea creature, to reveal orange and yellow inners.T. ‘Lizzie’ has pointed, star-shaped petals that open to reveal dark, devilish black hearts edged with a golden trim. All the above should be perennial.
For containers tryNarcissus ‘Banana Daiquiri’, a split-corona daffodil with pale cream tepals and a large, ruffled, lemon-yellow corona. It never fails to shout, ‘Look at me!’N. ‘Falconet’ is a tazetta variety with multi-headed bunches of small yellow blooms, brilliant orange cups and the most delicious scent. It’s a favourite here both for containers and out in the garden.
N. ‘St. Patrick’s Day’, is a late-flowering,Read more on theenglishgarden.co.uk