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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Gardening Notes June 2011

Summer Shiners

If you have a few gaps in your borders you need some good summer shiners to fill them. A dousing of rain has made planting now a little easier, so take advantage of the good growing conditions. Cheat and plant some substantial annuals or strong cottage garden plants in your empty spaces and maximise on colour for the whole summer long. Annuals are the ideal way to plug unwanted gaps in summer borders we want to enjoy now, whilst we decide what could be planted on a more permanent basis and enjoyed next season at a later date.

Perfect Plants For The Summer.
There is an array of super sized annuals that have been given space and grown into large plants. Take advantage of bold extravagant double busy lizzies in peppermint pink. These are a good low ground cover or edging plant that can cope well in shadier positions and the pinky colour is a definite talking point. If you would like something tall and spiky what about using colourful Antirrhinums. Anthirodora varieties are fragrant. Large begonias produce a profusion of plump rose shaped flowers in very bright colours and handle drier positions better than most bedding. Salvia Victoria Blue is another tasteful spiky flower ideal for home borders. It is the most wonderful deep blue and I would choose to plant swathes of this blue to bask in all summer. Nemesia always fills spaces quite softly with a swathe of natural little flowers. If you like rich purpley blue colours like me Heloptrope is the one to choose. The flower head is a midnight blue and the fragrance is divine. Finally don’t forget the good old Dahlias, Cosmos and Argyranthemums. They all flower well are are study and they last. All these plants are equally suited to filling a few extra pots around the patio or giving the front kerbside entrance a little lift of colour.
Annuals last until the first frosts usually in November so you have all summer to soak up the colour.

Cottage Garden Plants Looking Good Now
These will always provide a great spectacle of colour and this time of year is no exception. At the moment Lavender has come into its own. It looks gorgeous and so quintessentially English.  I love mixing it in pots with bedding just as much as in the borders. Nepeta is a close contender for Lavender. Adored by the cats (I call it cannabis for cats!) they love to rub against it and chew it. Nepeta Six Hills Giant is the most wonderful rich blue and Racemosa Walker’s Low is similar but lower growing so better for ground cover. This is an ideal complementary plant to put with roses. We also have spiky blue Salvias (Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’) that look outstandingly good in summer herbaceous borders and Veronica spicata which has just come into flower and joined in the spiky blue wave of colour. We also have dwarf varieties of blue Veronica that stay compact. 
Lupins are dazzling us everywhere with their extravagant tall blooms along with delicious Delphiniums, also looking fresh and summery they come in lots of shades.  I have also spotted an abundance of tall Phlox plants just beginning to produce clouds of colourful flower heads.

Percicaria is an interesting plant to add which I find it very tough. Some of the larger varieties like Bistorta ‘Superba’ (75cm) are ideal for places that dry out or water log and struggles to grow anything. I like the smaller leaved lower growing Percicaria Affinis (25cm tall). This plant will make a great ground cover and the rosy pink almost grass like bloom is very reliable colour.
I have to mention Penstemons because they are brilliant colour. I slip them into all my borders for good measure. George V in red is looking particularly lush at the moment but there is a whole array of rather feminine flowers to enjoy and they make a bold statement in the beds. Here at the Nurseries there is an opportunity to learn more about how colour works. We have a free informal talk with the usually refreshments here at Preston Bissett Nurseries about ‘Colour In The Garden’ on Saturday 16th July. We also have a free ‘Water Colour Workshop’ on the 23rd August. 

Summer Roses
Roses deserve a page to themselves but I have to mention them before signing off. They are just looking fabulous. Silver Anniversary, Silver Jubilee, Golden Celebration, Ruby Wedding, there is certainly a rose for every occasion and colour scheme. The newer varieties are gaining strength through careful breeding and the limitations of weaker pesticides and fungicides. If you want soft pink tones try David Austin’s Wisley or Lady’s Blush or perhaps if you’d like something a little brighter try Summer Song in rich golden orange. Ultimately wait for the new white double climber available later this year. ‘William and Kate’ was on display to delight the public for the first time at Chelsea a few weeks ago.
Finally  if you are interested in garden herbs and the use of plants you may enjoy our free talk this Saturday. We have two herbalists here talking about every day plants and how to use them medicinally. There are free refreshments and the talk starts at 11am.   

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