Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
A RECENT period of heavy rain and strong winds hammered many lovely summer plants that were just coming into flower. While plants are tough enough to put up with reasonable variations in the weather, a burst of extreme conditions can set plants back several weeks, and that could put an end to your important flowering displays for the summer.
If some of your flowering displays have been damaged or worse, there are a number of possible remedies that you can do. At the very least you can cut off the most damaged parts of the plants, after which it might be a few weeks before the plants recover – this method is used where there are perennial or other long living plants in the display.
If the plants are mainly annuals then quite often the damaged plants further deteriorate and eventually die off so replacements are the best bet in these situations and the roots might have to be squeezed in to fit the available spaces.
In all cases give a weak feed overall to help promote recovery and establish growth.
Getting in some replacement plants is a quick fix for infilling pots, window baskets and troughs, and these can be done by using the usual suspects of begonias, geraniums, surfinias, violas, pansies and maybe the newer portulaca – a beautiful trailing plant. On the other hand, you can infill with more perennial type plants, such as campanula, asters or heucheras and, at the end of the season, they can be replanted into the garden or reused in next year’s containers and this latter possibility is a trend that is catching on as more people are favouring planting with long living plants with perhaps some annuals for immediate impact.
If your garden depends on summer patio or bedding plants and you get a period of wild weather which destroys your floral display, then you might have to rethink your strategy as depending on one aspect of gardening leaves you open to a setback like this. I do think, in designing your garden, that it is a good idea to hedge your bets and go for a wide variety of plants so that if a mishap happens, it is not a big issue. The other extreme is to plant the garden with only hardy trees, shrubs and climbers but this can lead to dull periods when not much is in flower. Therefore, the better solution is to use all the above and use the summer flowers around the patio and house area and use perennials further out in the garden among the trees and shrubs.
There are some plants that bring out the summer feeling and the first that comes to mind are the lavenders, which come is a great variety but we stick to what is known as the English or Dutch types such as ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ and have discontinued with the French (stoechas varieties) as they do not like our climate and tend to be very short lived. In fact, we do not sell any plants that do not suit our conditions and I wish other traders would do the same. Some ‘Fancy pants’ which like us include Anthemis ‘E.C Buxton’, Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’, Convolvulus cneorum, verbena bonariensis, Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ and any Nandina such as ‘Obsessed’, ‘Gulfsteam’ and ‘Twilight’.
TIP OF THE WEEK
If you keep your grass cut regularly it will tide you over periods of wet weather and it is the easiest way to having your garden looking good, even if there are weeds elsewhere.
Cutting your grass too low might look good but it is a way to encourage weeds and moss if conditions take a turn for the worse.
We do not do a great deal with the garden this month and most of our time is spent on the vegetable patch, tying up climbers and making sure weeds do not take a hold.
If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to email me at [email protected] and I will reply back and if of general interest will include the information in a future gardening section.