For anyone interested in growing flower bulbs for seasonal colour, whether for naturalising, pot containers or cut flowers, Tim Woodward’s talk gave a good insight into the range of bulbs - suitable for various aspects of gardening covering both planting and aftercare - while offering ideas and inspiration for planting schemes.
Following initial training in Agricultural Mechanics Tim switched his interest to Horticulture with Winchester Bulb Growers, the world’s leading grower of daffodils processing volumes in excess of 20 million per annum, to widen his career to later become Sales and Marketing Director servicing most of the UK’s horticultural retail outlets: RHS Wisley, Redfield’s and Avenue Nurseries to name a few. Tim is also a past President of the Horticultural Trades Association and a trustee of the gardening charity Perennial – helping people who work in horticulture.
Tim is currently responsible for UK sales for a major Dutch bulb grower - a leading exporter worldwide - while working with his wife at their web-based bulb company, Direct Bulbs, a family business with over 20 years’ experience in the horticultural industry providing a broad and unusual selection of the very finest bulbs.
After a thorough description of a wide variety of bulbs for all seasons – from Alliums through Fritillaria, Hyacinths and Narcissi to Tulips – members were given an insight into marketing techniques aimed at the keen / casual / impulse buying customer groups with Tulips now exceeding Daffodils by sales volume.
Members were also advised of the importance of feeding bulbs with a high potash feed e.g., Tomorite during their leaf and flowering stage to assist annual regeneration together with the essential value of not cutting back leaves for 6 weeks following flowering for the same reason.
When asked how bulbs may be affected by the use of peat-free compost members were recommended to use a mix of spent potting compost, grit and 2-years’ old natural compost or leaf mould to provide bulbs with sufficient moisture, feed and root stability.
On a final note, we learned that early spring flowering bulbs, such as Snowdrops and Narcissi, are predominantly white or yellow to attract early pollinators having limited colour recognition.