Mat Reese is head gardener at Malverleys in North Hampshire, where, with its owners, he has designed and developed a modern English flower garden over the past decade.
Favourite bulbs for a modern English flower garden
Tulipa ‘Evergreen’ is a tall, late-flowering tulip that continues into early June. Its green flowers last so much longer than normal flowers, so it’s excellent for cutting; it also goes very well with Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’.
Tulipa ‘Blue Aimable’
Tulipa ‘Blue Aimable’ is, in my opinion, one of the best tulips to flower in mid to late May. Its flowers are an unusual dusky purple, with shades of blue within.
T. ‘Merlot’ is a good, wine-red lily-flowered tulip that looks particularly fine woven through perennial spring foliage. Its blooms open in warm weather to reveal a blue eye.
The stems of Allium obliquum develop in a corkscrew fashion, eventually straightening out to bear small golden globes of flowers, which look great combined with thin blue salvia spikes.
A. stipitatum ‘Violet Beauty’
A. stipitatum ‘Violet Beauty’ is a vigorous allium, quickly building up into large groups of metallic-mauve star-shaped flower orbs. It looks particularly good woven through the foliage of spring-flowering perennials.
Narcissus ‘Segovia’ is a short, pure white variety with a lemon-yellow corona: the petals are slightly swept back and it is highly scented. One of the last daffodils to flower, Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus is a white-flowered variety that looks good in a meadow or flower border and does best in moist, rich soil.
For the woodland garden I enjoy Scilla siberica, which is a strong, self-sowing bulb that spreads to create sheets of blue pendent flowers.
Hyacinthus ‘Delft Blue’
Hyacinthus ‘Delft Blue’ is a pale blue variety that shows up well in the garden and has a very good scent. It is ideal for the house, either as a cut flower or grown in pots.
Finally, Eremurus ‘Joanna’ is a showy perennial bulb that develops tall wands of white, star-shaped flowers on strong stems — give it good, free-draining soil in a sunny border.
Malverleys opens on select days and for private tours throughout the year. Booking is essential. See malverleys.co.uk for details.