spring bulb celebration

Watch our programme of online talks below. New talks posted 9am Saturday 20th – Sunday 28th March
 Q&A on bulbs and bulb-growing with our garden team on Friday 26th March
Send your questions to us at info@standrewsbotanic.org by midday on Thursday 25th March 

Sunday 28th March - Calochortus at Denver Botanic Garden with Mike Bone

Mike returns to help us round off the week. He and colleague Jameson Coopman bring us right up to date showing how modern culture techniques can help bring even  reluctant plants like the mariposa lily into cultivation.

Sunday 28th March - The bulb collection at Gothenburg Botanical Garden with Johan Nilson

Johan Nilson is the horticulturist/specialist at the Alpine department at Göteborg Botanical Garden, where he has been working since 2009.  Besides taking care of the Bulb collections, he looks after large parts of the Alpine collections, including the Himalayan part of the Rock Garden. Johan has a broad interest for plants and travels widely to see plants in the wild.

Saturday March 27th - Collecting bulbs from the wild and incorporating them into Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's collection with Elspeth MacKintosh

Elspeth Mackintosh is Senior Horticulturist in the Alpine Department at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. For over 20 years she has been responsible for the running of the area which includes the public display area, an extensive back-up collection and propagation facilities for Rock and Alpine.  Spring finds her taking bulb displays to alpine shows around the country and she also hunts for plants in far-flung places such as Bhutan, Nepal and South Africa.

Saturday March 27th - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's alpine bulb collection with Petra Palkova

Petra has trained both at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Threave Garden. Her current role is as Horticulturist in the Rock and Alpine team at RBGE, where she has been for almost 5 years. “I love too many plants to name just one but I’m particularly fond of the Primulaceae family, Daphne species, South African plants and Scottish natives.”

Friday 26th March - St Andrews Botanic Garden Bulb Question Time

Beccy, Peter and Sarah join Harry to answer visitors’ questions about starting bulb collections and how best to grow all kinds of bulbs.

Friday 26th March - Bulb chipping demonstration and Galanthus with Sarah Carlton

Sarah Carlton graduated with a first class honours degree from the Horticulture with Plantsmanship BSc taught at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in 2013. Since then, she has enjoyed a successful career as a botanical horticulturist, working at the RHS flagship garden Wisley for two years, interning at Kew Gardens, and travelling to study alpine plants in the Swiss and French Alps, China’s Yunnan mountain ranges, the Russian Altai, and Kyrgyzstan. Sarah is currently the Garden and Conservation Supervisor at St Andrews Botanic Garden. Her role encompasses the whole garden, managing a small team and caring for extensive botanical collections. Prior to that she spent four years as Alpine and Woodland Supervisor. Sarah is passionate about understanding the world of Alpine plants and sharing this knowledge to raise awareness of the threats climate change poses to their existence.


Bulb chipping demonstration

Galanthus at St Andrews Botanic Garden

Spring bulb fact: Bulb chipping is a technique used by horticulturalists to increase the number of individuals of a plant, often of a rare or precious species or cultivar. Hygiene is really important during the process as the bulb is being cut open and its tissues exposed to pathogens like fungi. 

Friday 26th March - Fritillaria with Cyril Lafong

Cyril returns to show us some beautiful specimens from his favourite group of spring bulbs, the Fritillaria

Thursday 25th March - Central Asia: bulbs in their native habitat vs growing in cultivation with Nick Courtens

Nick’s passion for horticulture began on his family’s organic vegetable farm in upstate New York. A graduate of Longwood Gardens Professional Horticulture Program, Nick joined Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, Colorado in May 2010 as an intern. In his role as Curator of Plant Collections, Nick is responsible for developing and maintaining the Gardens’ collection of alpine plants. Nick’s extensive travels have taken him to alpine environ­ments around the world. His encyclopedic knowledge of alpine plants, combined with his keen observation skills, is particularly evident in the Gardens’ expanding Alpines of the World collections.

Through the stunning pictures in this presentation, Nick takes us on a journey to the beautiful central Asian origins of some favourites from his collection. 

Wednesday 24th March - Branklyn's spring bulbs with Jim Jermyn

Jim Jermyn is currently the Property Manager/Head Gardener for NTS Branklyn Garden, Perth. He specialises in Alpine and Woodland plants with an interest in the Genus Meconopsis. For 20 years (from 1978) he was proprietor of Edrom Nurseries, in Berwickshire. Jim lectures widely in the UK, Europe, Canada and the USA. He has written three books, The Himalayan Garden, Growing Plants from the Roof of the World, Alpine Plants of Europe – A Gardener’s Guide and Mountain Walks in Eastern Europe. Jim lives in Perth with his wife Alison. He is currently Chairman of the Meconopsis Group, serves as a Trustee on the Merlin Trust and as an honorary member of the RHS Joint Rock Garden Committee. His interests run to growing a wide range of Snowdrops as well as many Himalayan Primula and related species. Now that he has family living in Catalonia he is exploring the Spanish Pyrenees and has recently introduced a new species of primula (P. subpyrenaica) into cultivation. He enjoys fine wine, Real Ale, Classical Music, Cricket and sadly supports Newcastle United F.C!

Wednesday 24th March - Early germination problems in Fritillaria with Cyril Lafong

Today Cyril is back to show us the set-up he uses to help early-germinating Fritillaria make it through the winter.

Bob & Rannveig have been growing plants ever since Rannveig’s botany degree in the 1960s.  Excited by pictures of Dionysias found in the University library she joined both the AGS and the SRGC and the bug just grew.  Both are now retired from teaching (Rannveig) and pharmaceutical company research (Bob) and enjoy travelling, growing, researching and showing.  They specialise in bulbs and have an enormous collection which is grown largely under glass in our garden in south west Wales.  With over 40 Farrer Medals, 2 Forrest Medals and 33 Gold Bars, they have been fairly successful in these endeavours. 

Photo taken by Don Peace of us with one of our Farrer Medal winners (Corydalis nariniana) which just happens to be the subject of one of the talks.

Bob: Discovering the world of the Rhinopetalum section of Fritillaria

Rannweig: Delving into the Leontocoides section of Corydalis

Spring bulb fact: Zygomorphic flowers have only one axis of symmetry, like pansies and orchids. In contrast, actinomorphic flowers like crocuses and petunias have radial symmetry. Most Fritillaria are actinomorphic, but there are exceptions in the Rhinopetalum section.

Monday 22nd March - Bulbs in the garden with Cyril Lafong

In this video, Cyril shows us the beautiful bulbs growing outdoors in his garden.

Spring bulb fact: in horticulture, bulbs can often be seen in ‘plunges’. In this video, many of Cyril’s plants are grown in pond baskets set into the surrounding soil, allowing the plants to be easily lifted, moved and maintained. At St Andrews Botanic Garden, we keep our indoor bulb collection in terracotta pots set in sand plunges: specially designed raised beds filled with sand. Sinking the pots into sand in this way helps to avoid extremes of temperature and humidity in the soil.

Sunday 21st March - Naturalising bulbs at Utrecht Botanic Gardens with Gerard van Buiten

Here’s Gerard amidst the ‘stinzenhelling’; the area he developed from the late eighties with naturalizing bulbs like Galanthus, Crocus, Scilla, Narcissus and Corydalis. ‘Stinzenhelling’ comes from the Frisian word ‘stins’ meaning ‘stone house’ and ‘helling’, meaning ‘slope’. What do these have to do with spring bulbs? Watch Gerard’s talk to find out.

“As a little boy, I accompanied my father, who was a gardener and later worked as a head gardener at a country estate along the Vecht. After my training in gardening I first worked for 10 years in a landscaping company. In 1998 I joined the Botanical Gardens of Utrecht University in the rock garden. After working there for a few years as head of the rock garden, I became hortulanus (head gardener) of the entire garden in 2009. Besides alpine plants and their ecology, “stinzenplanten” have my special attention.”

Sunday 21st March - Bulbs in the glasshouse and bulb frame with Cyril Lafong

Cyril Lafong’s skill as a grower is unrivalled. With over 50 Forrest Medals awarded for his to the Scottish Rock Garden Club, in 2016 he was the first ever recipient of the Gold Forrest Medal. He’s always happy to share his wisdom and advice.

In this video, Cyril takes us on a tour of the bulbs in flower in his greenhouse in late February. Cyril will be back throughout the week to share more of his expertise.

Saturday 20th March - Albuca at Denver Botanic Garden with Mike Bone

Mike has been with the Denver Botanic Gardens since 2002 where he has focused his career on the study of plants of the steppe regions of the world and their adjacent mountain ranges. In his time at the DBG Mike has traveled to Central and Middle Asia, Southern Africa, and extensively throughout the American west to collect seed and study the plants and ecology of the steppes. When not traveling Mike oversees the Steppe Garden, trial gardens, plant breeding, and propagation of wild collected material brought into the gardens. Mike has been working with the Plant Select® program for more than 20 years to bring climate appropriate plants to the marketplace for the Colorado front range and beyond. In his personal time Mike is an enthusiastic gardener and collector of plants. At his home in suburban Denver, CO Mike has rock gardens, crevice gardens, steppe gardens, a small greenhouse, and vegetable gardens. As an author Mike has been a contributor for 6 books published through the Denver Botanic Gardens which includes Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World’s Semi-arid Regions. Mike also produces articles for local, regional, and national publications. 

In this video, Mike shows us the beautiful Albuca spiralis along with some other spiral-leaved plants from the collections at DBG. 

Spring bulb fact: In this video, Mike describes the Albuca as caudiciform. Caudiciform plants have a bulbous stem called the caudex. These structures have evolved many times in different families of plants, including baobab trees, cycads, and of course, cacti. The caudex usually functions as a store of water, allowing plants to survive drought conditions. True bulbs are slightly different – they are modified leaves or leaf-bases rather than just stems, although the stem may also form part of the bulb.

Bulbs at St Andrews Botanic Garden

St Andrews Botanic Garden is home to a stunning collection of spring bulbs, growing both out in the garden, and behind the scenes in the research collections. These collections date back to the gardens beginnings in the 1970’s under Bob Mitchell’s curation, and have been developing ever since. Out in the garden some of the first to flower are the great swathes of snowdrops, both single and double forms of Galanthus nivalis, as well as many named selections. And as Spring really takes hold, the likes of Crocus, Narcissus, and Iris bring vibrant dashes of colour. Behind the scenes in the Alpine collections, we now grow around 700 pots of bulbs, corms, and tubers. These are grown in sand plunges, and mostly flower in spring. The largest collections are in Fritillaria and Galanthus, but we also have fantastic collections of Crocus, Iris, Tulipa, Narcissus, Colchicum, and many more. Since the start of 2017 we have been treated to many generous donations from expert growers such as Ian Christie, Cyril Lafong, Margaret and David MacLennan, and Laurence Hill, enabling us to expand our collections and make ‘bulbs’ an integral part of our horticultural, conservation, and education work! We are incredibly proud of our collections and are excited to share them with you at our very first Spring Bulb Celebration event!