Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
GARDEN shows started in April and peaked in the last week of May with Chelsea but there will be smaller shows continuing during the summer, and even if you do not visit them, they will be featured on the TV all the time, showing their magnificent floral displays, which is geared to excite you into trying to emulate something similar in your garden.
Displays of fruit and vegetables at shows, though admirable, really do not motivate me at all but seeing those flowers in their perfection does have me taking notes of those varieties that catch my eye and when I return home I work out where to plant them. Some of the flowers might come from trees and shrubs but the vast majority that spark my interest are those herbaceous perennials that flower during the summer months and I will include a brief description of some types that you might enjoy too.
There are so many iris types that their descriptions can run for a number of pages but here we are dealing with the German or bearded Iris which takes pride of place during their peak flowering time from April to June. They all have large blousy blooms in a single colour or more commonly in a combination of colours and when they are finished flowering they should be lifted every three years, divided up and replanted near the surface again where the heat will encourage next year’s flowers.
These strappy leaved tropical looking plants officially called Agapanthus are easy to grow and tolerate a range of conditions, including coastal areas and produce a white or blue flowering cluster on top of a stem during the summer months. While there are many new varieties in various shades of blue, it does not matter which type you get as they are all very good.
The common name of many plants are more attractive than the official name but we need both at times to know what plant we are talking about and this plant is also known as Digitalis. It is a very easy plant to grow and happy in areas that are more shady and moist where they might even sow themselves and increase the number of plants to provide a larger drift of colour in time. You can grow your own plants from seed now.
This is a favourite flower found in bridal arrangements and has light foliage and loose clusters of small white flowers during the summer months. It provides a change of interest within the normal heavier foliaged perennials and should be cut regularly for indoor displays in order to keep it in shape and produce additional blooms.
These plants are hard to resist and are one of the most popular herbaceous perennials and it is easy to see why, as they have tall majestic flower spikes in numerous colours and flower to profusion. In recent times their over exuberance in flower and growth has resulted in them becoming short lived plants, sometimes prone to green fly attack but their popularity continues. You can grow your own plants from seed now.
This is a native plant which has become a welcome addition to the garden and as you can imagine is hardy and tough with a long flowering period from spring until the frosts arrive in late October. The frilly edged pincushion blue or white flowers last well indoors and can be dried for additional winter interest.
TIP OF THE WEEK
The mild winter and spring has thrown up a number of unexpected concerns in the garden, and these include the fact that large numbers of wildlife have survived and they have multiplied. It follows that they are on the lookout for food and are happy enough to help themselves to your plants. The most annoyed group are the fruit and vegetable gardeners who see larger than normal numbers of pests including birds, slugs, greenfly and caterpillars ruining their crops unless they are as well protected as Fort Knox. We grow our own fruit and vegetables and have increasingly had to provide more protection from pests over the years, but do not bother with other plants as we have a tolerance level and are not too concerned about pests having a chew as there is no long term damage.