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Gardening: Break for the borders; GIVE YOUR BEDS A BOOST WITH BULBS.

Byline: with ADRIENNE WILD

ADD impact and create dazzling displays in your garden from June through to autumn with the dramatic foliage and exotic-looking flowers of summer bulbs. They don't take up much ground space and slender plants such as lilies can be squeezed between clumps of perennials to add an extra "storey" of colour. Now's the time to plant, so buy bulbs and get busy!

ARUM LILY

WHITE funnel-shaped flowers and large lush leaves make arum lily or zantedeschia a sought-after plant for making a contemporary statement in exotic borders and stylish containers. It's a great choice for a pond- edge, where the damp soil will ensure that this tuberous perennial gives plenty of summer flowers. Crowborough is the hardiest variety, while the green-edged Green Goddess can last two weeks as cut flowers. Plant rhizomes immediately. Start them in pots of John Innes No2 compost cover with 2-3in of compost. Keep compost moist until growth appears and transplant them outside in June.

CANNAS

THESE bold-leaved, exotic flowering bulbs can be grown in a container if it's big enough to start them off, but they don't like being pot-bound and this will reduce flowering. They are greedy, and perform best with plenty of water, feed and sunshine. If you're a foliage or hot-border fan you will love Tropicanna, with its combination of purple, pink and orange-striped leaves. And if that's still not enough colour, its flowers are bright orange with big, orchid-like petals. Start the fleshy rhizomes off in pots indoors and plant them out at the end of May after the risk of frost has passed.

CROCOSMIAS

THESE add a fiery glow to fading borders and will thrive in bad weather. With sword-like leaves and arching stems, they produce sprays of vivid red, orange or yellow flowers on their wiry tips. Lucifer is the hot favourite variety but Star of the East is a fine alternative if you prefer orange blooms. Plant before the end of May 4-6in apart and 2in deep alongside other later summer

perennials, such as Michaelmas daisies, rudbeckias and sedums. Crocosmia thrives in well-drained soils that don't dry out, and tolerates shade.

LILIES

LILIES always have a big presence and the superstar is Lilium regale, which has white flowers and the sweetest scent. Plant with colour- matched roses and evergreen foliage for a cool white bed or with perennials for posher borders. Star Gazer lilies have bright blue salvias and you can team orange varieties like Enchantment with purple foliage. Plant fresh bulbs immediately in pots or the garden at a depth 21/2 times the depth of the bulb. In heavy soil line the hole with sharp grit to aid drainage. Water freely.

GLADIOLI

WITH their tall spikes of summer flowers in shades of white, red, pink, yellow and orange, plus some bi-colours, gladioli look striking in cut flower displays as well as in the garden.

Grow in rows for cutting or partner with day-lilies and ornamental grasses, or amongst aromatic lavenders and silvery- leaved artemisia for a

Mediterranean effect.

The smaller gladioli can be grown successfully in tubs. Plant the corms immediately, 3in deep and 3/4in apart.

GIANT HIMALAYAN LILY

WHITE-scented trumpets are an imposing sight on top of the enormous stems of Cardiocrinum giganteum. It can take several years to flower but is well worth the wait. Grow a small group in a shady border, planting just below the surface. Ideally, get the bulbs in the ground during September or October or buy ready-grown flowering-size potted plants now and find a sheltered site to show them off. Feed with a balanced fertiliser in the growing season to encourage offsets and top-dress annually with organic matter.

DAHLIAS

DAHLIAS are the undisputed kings of colour in the late summer border. Dark-leaved varieties such as Bishop of Llandaff are especially fashionable but there's a vast range of varieties from daring to dainty to suit every taste and garden style. The tubers should be started indoors and planted out after the frosts...or simply put them straight out from around the end of May. Prepare the ground well before planting by digging in plenty of well-rotted garden compost, but avoid excessive feeding, as this encourages foliage at the expense of flowers. Protect young shoots from slugs and feed the plants regularly in summer to promote plenty of blooms.

GAYFEATHER

THE tall, purple flower spikes of Liatris spicata open from the top down instead of from the bottom up, giving them a bottle-brush shape. It does best in moisture-retentive soil and may need staking in windy gardens. Try growing with perennials with open-faced, daisy-like flowers such as coreopsis to accentuate their striking form. Plant immediately and blooms will appear on stout leafy stems in September.

PURPLE SHAMROCK

PRETTY ground-hugging clover, purple-coloured leaves and pale pink flowers make Oxalis triangularis a great asset in a summer garden. Get bulbs in immediately in a sunny or partly-shaded spot, in gritty soil enriched with well- rotted garden compost. Rust

disease can be a problem and plants should be sprayed regularly with a fungicide in summer to avoid damage.

AGAPANTHUS

THE bell-shaped blooms of agapanthus, in deep shades of blue and violet or in white, make excellent cut flowers. If left on the plant, attractive seedheads will follow, which can be dried for indoor arrangements. These late flowering perennials look good in containers and flower from July until August or September in a sunny, sheltered spot. Plant bulbs immediately, 2in deep. Don't disturb after planting.

CAPTION(S):

Left... orange dahlias add warmth to a bright display of rudeckia and other perennials
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2004
Words:931
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