Garden Advice from The Mains of Drum Plant Expert Dr Jane Bingham

Winter Preparation and Planning for 2017

Tulip planting time 

It’s time to plant tulip bulbs. Tulip bulbs are planted later than most other spring-flowering bulbs as this can prevent them from succumbing to the fungal disease, Tulip Fire. Choose healthy, undamaged bulbs and plant them at least 5cm (2in) apart and about 15-20cm (6-8 in) deep. Tulips do best in fertile, well-drained soil in a sheltered, sunny spot.

Most tulips deteriorate when left in the ground and do not re-flower. It is best to replace them with new bulbs each year. Alternatively, carefully lift them once the leaves have died down, clean and store the bulbs somewhere cool and dry. Damaged or diseased bulbs should be discarded. They can be replanted in November. (Dwarf species tulips do not need to be lifted.)

Compost and leaf mould bays in the grounds at The Mains of Drum


Our Mains of Drum gardener, Jon, makes superb compost and uses it for digging in and mulching all of the beds around the grounds. It is easy to make: add a good mix of chopped up material, turn the heap regularly and keep it moist during the summer months.

Compost materials

Grass mowings in thin layers

Weeds (not seedheads and roots of perennials)

Fruit and veg peelings and scraps

Shredded or chopped prunings


Cardboard and paper

Straw and hay

Wood chippings and sawdust

Leaf Mould

Jon also collects the fallen autumn leaves from around the grounds to make leaf mould. Leaf mould has many uses around the garden. It makes a wonderful soil conditioner and mulch. It can be used on lawns as a top dressing. Well-rotted leaf mould can be sieved and used for seed sowing, or mixed with equal parts of sharp sand, top soil and compost for use as a potting compost.

Pile up the leaves and leave them for at least two years to break down into crumbly, black leaf mould. Keep the leaf pile moist and turn it regularly. Leaves from beech, hornbeam and oak break down the quickest and make good quality leaf mould.

Reminders for November

Plant tulip bulbs in borders, pots and troughs.

Rake up fallen leaves, especially from lawns and alpine beds.

Cut back herbaceous plants from now to early spring, making the most of fine weather.

Store dried-off dahlia tubers and gladioli corms and onions and shallots in a frost-free place.

Tie up conifers and evergreen hedges that are vulnerable to snow damage.

Keep houseplants in good light, stop feeding and water sparingly.

Tie in this year’s growth of raspberries and blackberries to prevent wind damage over winter.

Stake brussel sprouts to prevent them blowing over in the wind.

Christmas is coming to The Mains of Drum Plant Area

Beautiful fresh Nordmann Fir Christmas trees, Holly and Fir wreaths, Fir swags, Mistletoe and Poinsettias galore will be arriving here from late November. We will have plenty of other colourful seasonal plants to choose from, many of them in attractive containers, which make great gifts. Christmas tree stands, kindling and logs, salt, sand, and snow shovels will also be available under the Plant Area canopy.

Enjoy your winter garden!

Dr Jane Bingham

26 October 2016