The stunning Japanese Maple Tree.
IN our mild corner of Ireland we can grow such a huge range of plants that we do not have to venture outside those that are hardy to ensure enough choice for most situations and interest.
My usual advice is to select plants that grow well in your area and, from this base, expand as and when the interest or inclination arises.
There are many that go outside the norm and grow marginally hardy and sometimes tropical exotics. For a period they will be able to enjoy the seemingly unobtainable until we experience severe and prolonged freezing weather and then these plants will die and for a few years nobody will try these plants again until, slowly, the interest, faith and hope will encourage another attempt. I am in the camp that does not want or have the time to cover and protect plants for the winter, such as the tree fern (Dicksonia), but I leave the banana plant (Musa) and a few others outside to take their own chances and most have survived undamaged for the past 20 years.
On the other end of the scale are those plants that were planted in our grandparents’ time and are still common enough and well worth considering as they are tough and give a good display at a time when colour is needed. They include forsythia, flowering currant, Darwin’s barberry, Mock Orange and lilacs. Gone from the list of cottage plants are Canterbury Bell’s, Bellis daisies, Brompton Stock, Sweet Williams and, in the last few years, the old fashioned wallflowers, which were sold in loose bundles of 25 in a bunch. It is a pity but the majority of the gardening is now carried out in the few spring months and planting outside those popular months means not knowing what is available at that time.
Within the range of shrubs there are more recent outstanding introductions that make an impact and they include Acer palmatum ‘Bi Hoo’, Corylus ‘Scooter’ and ‘Red Majestic’, Pieris ‘Passion’ and ‘Katsura’, Exochorda ‘Niagara Falls’, Daphne ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Perfume Princess’, Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’, Pittosporum ‘Golf Ball’ (three types), Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Runaway Bride’, Kalmia latifolia ‘Moyland’ and Viburnum odoratissimum ‘Copper Top’.
Most plants are now sold with a coloured label which gives an idea of what the plant looks like when in flower which might not happen for a few years until the plant matures. Due to the limits of printing quite often the colour is only an indication of what it might look like. We are told there are “50 shades of grey” and the same applies to all the other available colours. It is always a good idea to take note of plants when they are in flower and visits to parks, gardens and nurseries will help in this direction.
TIP OF THE WEEK
It is a prime time for sowing seeds and this can continue until May at least and will ensure that the resulting plants will reach maturity during the summer. Besides the many flowers and vegetables that are on offer, why not include some of the annual herbs, such as parsley, chives and basil, which can be started in trays or modules inside before transplanting out. Coriander, rocket and dill should be sown in small batches direct into containers or the ground as they have a tendency to bolt and go to seed without any notice.
If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and, if of general interest I will include it in a future article.