Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
EVERYONE who has plants should now be enjoying lush growth with plenty of flowers, fruit or vegetables depending on what is grown. We are in the peak of near ideal conditions, such as a reasonable amount of warm, moist and light days.
Plants that have been added to the garden over a year ago including long established specimens rarely need any cultural attention as their nutritional and moisture needs have been satisfied.
We keep these plants weed free around their bases and, in some cases we lay bark over cardboard out from the trunk as this will help retain moisture levels during a hot summer. The nice thing about permanent plants is the ease or lack of much maintenance that is required bar some pruning to keep plants in shape.
Under ideal conditions we can grow almost any plant and that includes many of the exotic types that we might associate with more tropical regions. The trouble is that, in Ireland, our winters are quite unsuitable for many of the less hardy plants and our damp conditions, which encourage diseases.
Of course, there are many enthusiastic people who defy the trend with their focused interest and who manage against all odds to grow superb exotic plants, such as the cactus specialist along the coast from Tramore.
Generally, we have little control over the weather except when we grow plants under protection like a tunnel or glasshouse. Then we can give the plants all the love and attention they like and they will flourish. Plants outside are a different matter and we have to take the weather as it comes which are usually warm days and long daylight hours but it might not rain enough or at the wrong time for our plants so, therefore, it is important to maintain good moisture levels, which means watering regularly in the evenings.
Quick maturing plants such as annuals, patio flowers, vegetables and some soft fruit will need an extra regular feed every two to three weeks from late spring until the end of August. We make our liquid feed half the recommended strength as we have already rich nutritious compost with added chicken pellets and we find this brings just the results we are looking for.
Gold star plants
For long lasting floral displays we like the annuals such as Bacoba, Bidens and Surfinia (trailing petunias) and the old fashioned Snap Dragon, which sometimes overwinters and flowers the following year. Good perennials in the same category include such good quality plants like Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, Erigeron ‘Sea Breeze’, Agapanthus and Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’. Shrubs with a long summer flowering period include Hydrangea in many forms like H.paniculata ‘Limelight’, H. Arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and H. Quercifolia and do not forget some Fuchsia, Cistus, Hebe, Potentilla, Hypericum, Lavender and the ground cover and relatively disease free rose called ‘Magic Carpet’. Many of the shrubs are common enough but worth having in the mixture as they flower for so long and are trouble free.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Weeds are becoming easier to control now as the huge surge of growth has become manageable. We run along with the hoe cutting down weeds as they get to about 5cm (4”) and above, and just leave them there as they will wither by the next day. Hand weeding is done near plants and larger annual weeds end up on the compost heap. The few remaining perennial weeds like bindweed, couch grass, docks and nettles are dug out and put into bags to decompose away.
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.