Today, however, tulips are no longer a luxury item reserved for the few. With a little understanding of their needs, anyone, anywhere, can grow these beautiful flowers.

But if you're new to planting tulips, you might be wondering where to start. This beginner's guide will walk you through everything you need to know to grow stunning tulips in your own garden.

Why Tulips?

Main Image

Tulips are incredibly easy to grow. Unlike some other types of flowers, they don't require a green thumb or hours of maintenance each week. As long as you plant them in the right spot and give them a bit of care, they'll thrive.

Tulips also come in a staggering array of colours and varieties. From classic red and yellow to more unusual shades like purple and white, there's a tulip out there for every gardener.

But perhaps the best reason to plant tulips is the joy they bring. There's something special about seeing those first tulip shoots emerge from the ground in early spring, a sure sign that winter is finally ending. And when they bloom, their bright colours can light up even the gloomiest day.

Why Does Timing Matter?

Why Does Timing Matter

When it comes to planting tulips, timing is everything. In most areas, the best time to plant tulips is in the fall, about 6-8 weeks before the ground freezes. This allows the bulbs to establish themselves in the soil over the winter and then send up shoots as soon as the weather warms in the spring.

Planting in the fall also helps prevent a common problem called tulip fire, a fungal disease that can damage the bulbs. By giving the bulbs a chance to establish themselves before winter, you can help prevent this disease from taking hold.

That being said, if you miss the fall planting window, it's not the end of the world. You can also plant tulips in the late winter to early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Just be sure to get them in the ground before it starts to warm up too much.

Selecting the Right Tulip Bulbs

First, think about the colours you like. As mentioned earlier, tulips come in a rainbow of shades, so pick bulbs in colours that will complement your existing garden decor.

Next, consider the height of the tulips. Some varieties can grow quite tall, up to half a metre or more, while others are more compact. If you're planting in a bed, taller tulips can go in the back, with shorter ones in the front. If you're planting in pots, compact varieties are a good choice.

Finally, think about when you want your tulips to bloom. Some varieties bloom early in the spring, while others bloom later. By mixing in some early, mid-season, and late-blooming varieties, you can have tulips in your garden for months.

How To Plant Tulip Bulbs

How to Plant Tulip Bulbs

Now that you have your bulbs, it's time to get planting!

1.      Choose a spot with good drainage. Tulips hate wet feet, so make sure the area you choose drains well. If your soil is heavy clay or prone to puddles, consider raising the bed or adding in some organic matter to improve drainage.

2.     Plant at the right depth. The general rule of thumb is to plant tulip bulbs 2-3 times deeper than they are tall. So, if you have a 5cm bulb, plant it 10-15 cm deep. Space the bulbs about 7-15 cm apart, depending on the variety.

3.     Plant the bulb pointy side up. This might seem obvious, but it's easy to get it wrong. Make sure the pointy end of the bulb is facing up and the flat base is facing down. If your bulb is irregularly shaped, plant it on its side.

4.     Cover with soil and mulch. Once the bulbs are planted, cover them with soil and add a layer of mulch. This will help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate the soil temperature.

5.     Water well. Give the bulbs a good soaking to settle the soil, and then keep the soil moist but not soggy until the ground freezes.

Caring for Your Tulips

Caring for Your Tulips

Once your tulips are planted, the hard part is over. Here's how to care for them:

Deadhead the blooms

Once the tulips finish blooming, remove the flower heads to prevent the bulbs from putting energy into seed production. Let the foliage die back naturally, however - this will help the bulb store up energy for next year.

Fertilise lightly

Tulips don't need a lot of fertiliser, but light feeding in the spring can help promote healthy growth. Look for a balanced, slow-release fertiliser and follow the package instructions.

Keep the soil moist

Tulips prefer well-drained but moist soil. Water them regularly during dry spells, but make sure not to overdo it.

Consider replanting

Tulips are technically a perennial, but they often bloom best the first year and then decline. If you want a big show of blooms, you may need to replant new bulbs every year or two.

Understand Your Garden's Winter Needs

Understanding your garden's specific needs is the first step to successful winter preparation. Research the typical temperatures and precipitation levels in your area. Knowing if you experience harsh frosts, frequent snow, or mostly mild winters will determine the level of protection your plants require.

Next, identify the plant varieties in your garden. Some plants are naturally more winter-hardy than others. Perennials, for example, tend to be tougher than annuals. Evergreens, with their persistent leaves, are less susceptible to winter damage than deciduous plants.

The health and drainage of your soil significantly impact how well your plants tolerate winter. Ideally, your soil should be well-draining to prevent winter wetness from rotting plant roots. Healthy soil also provides essential nutrients that help plants stay strong during colder months.

Cleaning and Clearing the Garden

garden for winter

Before winter descends, it's essential to give your garden a good clean-up. Gather any remaining fruits and vegetables, leaving some late-blooming flowers for the bees to enjoy. Clear away dead leaves, stems, and spent annuals, disposing of them properly.

Prune trees and shrubs to remove dead, diseased, or overcrowded branches. Pruning allows for better air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases and reduces the risk of winter storm damage from heavy snow or ice accumulating on branches. Finally, gather any remaining plant material and add it to your compost bin. This organic matter will decompose over winter, enriching your soil with valuable nutrients for the coming season.

Soil Care and Enhancement

plant protection

Healthy soil is the foundation of a healthy garden, and winter is the perfect time to give it some TLC. Consider doing a soil test to determine its nutrient levels and pH. This information will help you choose the right amendments to improve your soil's health and fertility. Add organic matter like compost, aged manure, or leaf mould to your soil. These amendments improve drainage, retain moisture, and add vital nutrients that will fuel spring growth.

Apply a layer of mulch, around 2-3 inches thick, around the base of your plants. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature by insulating the roots, and suppress weeds that might try to germinate during mild winter spells. Choose a material like bark chips, shredded wood, or straw for your mulch.

Plant Protection

Depending on the type of plants you have, some winter protection might be necessary. For delicate plants or those not suited to frost, consider covering them with frost cloth, burlap, or row covers. These coverings will protect them from sudden drops in temperature and help retain warmth around the plant.

If you live in an area with harsh winters, you may need to dig up tender bulbs like dahlias and gladioli. Store them in a cool, dark place for the winter months to prevent them from freezing or rotting in the ground.

Certain evergreens, especially those in exposed locations, can suffer from winter desiccation, where they lose moisture through their leaves faster than they can take it up from the frozen ground. To prevent this, water them deeply before the ground freezes. In particularly harsh conditions, you can also consider using an anti-desiccant spray on your evergreens.

What is Topiary?

Topiary is the art of shaping trees and shrubs into ornamental forms. This practice dates back centuries, with historical records showing its use in ancient civilisations. Today, topiary continues to be a popular way to add structure, interest, and a touch of whimsy to gardens. From classic geometric shapes to playful animal figures, topiary allows you to express your creativity and transform your garden into a sculpted haven.

The Best Plants For Topiary

Not every plant is suited for topiary. To achieve those clean, defined shapes, you need a plant that meets certain criteria. Here are some key characteristics to look for:

topiary plants

Dense foliage:

Plants with close-growing leaves will give you a fuller, more finished look. Boxwood (Buxus) is a classic topiary choice due to its dense, evergreen foliage that responds well to pruning. Other options include yew (Taxus), holly (Ilex), and privet (Ligustrum).

Slow growth rate:

Frequent trimming is essential for maintaining a topiary shape. Plants with a slow growth habit require less pruning, making them easier to manage, especially for beginners.

Good branching structure:

A strong branching structure provides a good foundation for shaping the plant. Look for plants with multiple stems that grow evenly.

Basic Techniques For Topiary Clipping

Before you start wielding your shears, it's important to understand some basic topiary clipping techniques. Here are some key things to remember:

topiary trees 3

Start small:

As a beginner, it's best to begin with small, simple shapes like spheres or cubes. This allows you to develop your skills and confidence before tackling more intricate designs.

Sharp tools are essential:

Use sharp pruning shears or secateurs to ensure clean cuts that heal quickly. Dull tools can damage the plant and promote disease.

Less is more:

It's better to take small, frequent trims than to try and remove a large amount of foliage at once. This helps maintain the shape and promotes bushier growth.

Visualise the final form:

Before you start clipping, have a clear image of the desired shape in mind. You can use templates or even create a wireframe to guide your pruning.

Work from top to bottom:

Start by shaping the top portion of the plant and work your way down the sides. This ensures a clean, even finish.

Step back and assess:

Regularly step back from your work to assess its overall shape and make any necessary adjustments.

Popular Topiary Shapes for Beginners

Now that you're armed with the basics let's explore some popular topiary shapes that are perfect for beginners:

topiary techniques 1


This classic shape is a great starting point due to its simplicity. Start with a boxwood or yew plant with a rounded form, and use your shears to refine the shape into a perfect sphere.


Another beginner-friendly option, cubes add a touch of modern elegance to your garden. Prune the sides and top of the plant to create a clean, square shape.

Pom Poms:

For a playful touch, try shaping boxwood or yew into pom poms. Start with a spherical shape and then gently prune the top and bottom to create a fluffy ball effect.


This whimsical shape is surprisingly easy to achieve. Simply create a standard topiary by pruning a single trunk upwards and then shape a ball at the top.


While spirals may seem intricate, they're actually a great option for beginners. Choose a plant with a single, central leader and prune away side branches in a continuous spiral pattern.

With a little practice, patience, and the right plant selection, you can master basic topiary shapes and transform your garden into a unique and captivating space.

This stems from the sheer amount of work that seems to be required for the project. After you’ve done your research, bought your supplies and slaved on your hands and knees for hours hunched over a garden bed, only to cross your fingers and hope that something actually grows, is it worth it?

The pride you would feel serving your family and friends food you grew in your backyard and the money you save avoiding spending five dollars on a capsicum would surely negate the back pain. Growing your own vegetables can absolutely be worth it if you know how to get maximum results with minimum effort. These tips are for the beginner gardener who doesn’t know where to start or the lazy gardener who can’t be bothered with all the admin that comes with maintaining a vegetable garden.

214275679 l normal none min

Introduction to Lazy Gardening

Tip 1: Start small

This seems like the most obvious concept, and yet it is so easy to let simplicity get away from us. When starting a new project, it’s easy to get overly excited and overestimate how much time and effort you’re actually willing to dedicate. Consider your capabilities and make a manageable plan, even if that is a grow bag by the back door or a small planter box in a sunny corner of the backyard.

Tip 2: Start with a quality foundation

Laziness loves low maintenance. If you start with a solid foundation, meaning good quality soil, your plants are more likely to thrive without intervention. It’s recommended that the mix be 50/50 organic soil and compost mix to ensure your plants receive the nutrients they need. A slow-release fertiliser can be supplemented if you think the extra boost is needed.

Tip 3: Consider a raised bed

A raised garden bed is a lazy gardener’s best friend. Your garden will be much easier to tend to if it is off the ground, reducing your need to kneel on the ground and compromise your back. You’ll be more likely to pop out and pull weeds if the physical demands are minimised.

Tip 4: Choose your vege carefully

Plant things that don’t need to be pampered or have special requirements. The best options are heat-tolerant vegetables that can withstand the fluctuation of temperature changes. Zucchinis are a great option for low-maintenance growing; they grow quickly and are incredibly versatile to cook with, meaning they won’t go to waste.

Tip 5: Equip yourself

Set yourself up for easy work by knowing what tools you’ll actually need and what will end up collecting dust in the shed. The experts suggest the bare minimum you will need to start are:

· Gloves

· Trowel

· Pruning shears

· Spade

· Hose or watering can

Don’t let clever marketing trick you into spending hundreds of dollars on a state-of-the-art wheelbarrow if you’re only working with a small vege patch or raised garden bed; chances are you won’t need it.

199486840 l normal none min

Enjoy Your Low Maintenance Garden

Gardening can be a relaxing and extremely rewarding hobby for some; for others, it feels like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips to enjoy a beautiful, productive garden without the hassle of high-maintenance gardening. By simplifying the task, you can be serving up delicious produce this summer with minimal effort!

Embark on a citrus adventure with our step-by-step guide to cultivating and nurturing lemon trees.

From choosing the right variety to fostering optimal growth conditions, this comprehensive manual covers everything. Unlock the secrets to bountiful harvest and enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own thriving lemon tree oasis.

Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide
Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide
Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide
Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide

Step 1:

Fill your pot with potting mix.

Step 2:

Add citrus fertiliser

Step 3:

Remove plant from the pot and place into pot you are wanting to use.

Tip: Squeeze the pot before lifting it out and transferring

Step 5:

Add more potting mix:

Step 6:

Add a layer of maltch

Step 7:

Water your plant – add Seasol as this promotes root growth (use 30ml every 9 liters)


Citrus plants are heavy feeders so you will need to fertilize every 3 months

Monitor your plant to make sure there are no pests or diseases – to prevent this use a Pyrethrum plus oil pest spray.

Flourishes in full sunlight; however, it necessitates protection from strong winds.

Requires regular feeding for optimal growth.

Displays moderate drought tolerance but demands water during prolonged dry spells. Adequate watering is essential during the flowering stage to encourage robust fruit development.

Thrives in all zones excluding arid regions, ideally suited for milder areas within semi-arid climates.

Typically 3–6m, with pruning commonly used to control height. Dwarf variants are also available, suitable for cultivation in containers.

Products You'll Need:

Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide
Lemon Eurela - Citrus Lemon
Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide
aScotts Osmococote 1kg Coontrolled Release Fertiliser for fruit / citrus / tress / shurbs
Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide
ates 750ml Nature's Way Citrus And Ornamental Insect Gun
Growing and Caring for Lemon Trees Guide
Yates 2kg Thrive Citrus And Fruit Granular Fertiliser

By Sheppard & Rout Architects associate director, Jonathan Kennedy

In a day and age where humble and modest dwellings are flavour of the month amongst architectural critics, larger, high-end homes are still what many clients aspire to.


With the advent of energy efficient appliances, lighting and heating systems, together with higher levels of insulation and smart passive design techniques, larger homes aren’t always more expensive to run.

It has been common to see larger sites in Canterbury carved-up and subdivided but, for those that go against the grain, the real value is in those sites that retain their land, gardens and outlook.

These sites are fast becoming the desirable ones.

Smaller, modest homes aren’t always what clients are after – often our clients have large families, pets, and stunning sites that deserve homes that stretch out and into the landscape.

In recent years, Sheppard & Rout has completed many larger, high-end homes.

At this level of the market, clients understand the value of incorporating energy efficient systems into their homes – solar power is one such example which offsets running costs and can even pay for itself in just a few years.

By putting more insulation into the home, they are also kept cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter, which means less power is required.
Larger homes often allow our clients the freedom to really flex both their and our own artistic thoughts.

Rather than being constrained to one or two ideas, the scale of these projects allows different moods to be created across the home – from dark, moody powder rooms to bright and airy double-height living spaces.


Creating Smarts Spaces

This contrast of scale and materiality within the house can really add drama to the designs.

One area of design that needs specialist attention on larger homes is the integration of mechanical and electrical installations.

In smaller houses, it’s not such a concern to have separately-switched lights or independent heating/cooling systems but,
in larger homes, it’s important to make sure our clients can efficiently control their homes with fully or semi-automated systems.

This not only includes lighting systems that can control various lights around the house from a single point, but also heating/cooling systems that will talk to one another and be remotely controlled when away from the house.

It has been a common trend in our larger homes to include for a pool and/or spa.

We will always recommend that larger houses be heated with a hydronic system such as wet underfloor heating or radiators – these systems provide a much more comfortable and temperate environment.


Creating Smarts Spaces


The beauty of these systems is they can also be used in the winter months to heat the house, whilst in the summer switched over to heat the swimming pool.

The capital outlay is subsequently less through reduced equipment requirements.

However, this does need specialist input at the design stage to ensure all systems are talking to each other and space is properly allocated and designed for.

Another common request from our clients wanting larger homes, is to design for large windows to allow the best visual and physical connection with the outside environment.

The advent of argon-filled, Low-E double glazing means much higher levels of thermal performance can be achieved with windows.

Thermally-broken aluminium window frames further increase this performance and, together with good passive design techniques, we can make the windows actually help with the thermal performance of the house.

Recent technical developments in building materials, together with wider client acceptance of modern design means the larger, high-end house is still something to aspire to and something Sheppard & Rout Architects always looks forward to being part of.


Sheppard & Rout Architects 104 Salisbury Street Christchurch
(03) 366 1562




linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram