Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
THE spring months are usually some of the most exciting months for gardeners as there is so much happening in the plant world. Growth which had slowly emerged is now growing away strongly and there is an abundance of flowers in most groups of plants.
We are now in the middle of May and while there is much to keep us busy in the garden, there is also enough time to be able to enjoy your plants and surroundings. This enjoyment can be extended into treats like visiting some garden and flower shows but this year they have all been cancelled so there is no ‘Bloom’ in Ireland and no ‘Chelsea’ either, and for the latter you did not have to travel far to enjoy the spectacular displays as the TV coverage of Chelsea was every day and you could record it for viewing later when time allowed.
While the cancellation of the shows is disappointing, we quickly accepted the reasons why we have to be relatively isolated and adhere to the safety guidelines. After that, it is up to us individually and collectively to make the best of the situation and be imaginative and creative to make sure we take some exercise, eat wisely and keep the mind active – and gardening ticks all these boxes. Sowing seeds, creating or improving new growing areas, obtaining some new plants and generally making your garden a more pleasant place to spend time will all help stimulate an ongoing interest.
Many of us have an idea of what diversity means but in gardening it encompasses all of the natural living world and not just the plants we grow but all the things that are associated with growing, such as the soil and insects too. Those involved in gardening can diversify within the range of plants they grow and many do have many divergent interests which makes for interesting conversation. On our holding, we have livestock including chickens, and grow organically a wide range of fruit, vegetables and flowers for admiring outside and also for picking for indoor decoration.
The nice thing about most flowers is that you can enjoy them in many ways as well as give some to friends and other people who might not manage to go outdoors anymore. One of the easiest and quickest growing flowers are those that you plant now which will flower after a few weeks and keep going until the frosts arrive in the autumn.
The old traditional methods was to plant flowers into prepared beds and have massive colourful displays but those days are long gone and the fashion now is to plant a number of containers around the house, including the patio or seating area.
Pots of Gold
The variety of containers and flowers available is huge and the difficulty is what to leave out as they all are beautiful. The lucky thing is that containers are usually filled with a variety of plants together and they seem to enjoy the company and provide colour and interest until the frosts come in late autumn. Once planted all that needs to be done is water them regularly and feed twice a month with a weak liquid feed. For a variety of exciting colours to plant, consider geraniums, osteospermums (daisy), Begonias (double and trailing), Fuchsia (upright and trailing), trailing petunias, including million bells and scented dianthus (dwarf carnations).
TIP OF THE WEEK
Because of the coronavirus, huge numbers of people began to grow vegetables and some fruit, especially strawberries and this can continue for the next six weeks at least.
If you are growing potatoes, you must constantly cover up the emerging shoots once they reach 15cm and continue to do this for the next six weeks at least. When the potatoes start to flower, you might test dig one plant up and see whether they can be harvested. Keep all vegetable areas free of weeds and pests and thin out any drills if the plants are too congested.
The sowing of flowers is coming to an end now but you can still buy young plants which will flower soon and it is the easiest and most economic way to have a great variety of flowers where small numbers are needed.