Being desperate to find any gardening related activity last week, I resorted to trawling around the garden departments of the local DIY stores one afternoon to see what's new. It's mostly the usual suspects: summer bulbs, plus a few dormant herbaceous perennial roots. However, this year looks set to be big on Dahlias as I found lots more choice than usual with not a D. 'Bishop of Llandaff' in sight. I've stocked up on more D. 'Arabian Night' as this did so well in my garden last year as well as looking marvellously sultry. I added a contrasting D. 'Duet' to my shopping basket: a cranberry and white striped combination, plus pure white D. 'Sneezy' again for contrast, but mainly because the name made me laugh.
All these were on offer at around the £2.49 mark for 2 good sized tubers, or three packs for a fiver. Good value, especially when catalogue prices are around £5.95 for three tubers + postage. However, the best bargain of the day were the pictured autumn onions for 10p. I know they should have been planted out by the end of November, but the sets are still very firm, with no hint of sprouting. Now, I have a track record in tardy bulb planting: In February last year I was planting some daffodils I found lolling around in the garage, 5 months later than advised. But I still had a marvellous display, with them flowering just a couple of weeks later than what was said on the packet.
Bearing that in mind these onion sets have got to be worth a try, so I'll be planting them later on today. If you've still got some bulbs lying around - floral or vegetable - and they're still sound, why not give them a go and plant them, despite what's said on the packet re planting dates. And if you find any similar bargains in the shops (like the tulips I used for my guerrilla planter last month), don't hesitate to buy them if they're still firm. Even if the ground's too wet or you've used up all your pretty pots, potting them up in any medium to large containers you've kept from previous plant purchases will give you plenty of additional colour to dot around in any gaps you find in your borders come spring :)