Tuesday, July 26, 2022

 

Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre

 

I HAVE toned down the heading from ‘Hot Conditions’ as it might jinx things to do a U-turn and we might be back to wet weather by the time this article is printed. In any event, there are many plants that like warm sunny days and I will mention a selection of these and what they require to thrive.

 

Pointless

It is pointless to dig a hole for a plant or put it into a container and then leave it to its own devices and expect it to grow. Plants are living things and need some sort of attention until they become established. They will need a reasonable amount of shelter, water, food and some protection from pests for a period until they can grow unaided. This could be weeks in the case of vegetables and flowers and perhaps a few months for shrubs and trees.

 

Ground control

Whether you grow plants in the ground, raised beds or containers there are certain things that a plant must have to grow on successfully. The soil or compost should be fertile, well drained and moisture retentive so this might mean a combination of soil (clay/loam), organic compost (decomposed leafy matter or farm manure) and maybe a proportion of sand, grit, bark or peat. Do make this mixture the best you can and take your time in preparing the site where you want to plant.

 

Pot luck

I do like the look of terracotta pots but they are porous so they dry out faster and that might not suit the plants. You can line the inside with plastic and that will retain the moisture for longer.

There are an increasing variety of other containers now available in a multitude of materials and colours and they are longer lasting and much more trouble free. We add ‘Swell Gel’ (water retaining crystals) to all our containers, which absorb water and will then release the moisture slowly as it is needed.

 

Plant protection

Given time, living things such as plants and animals evolve and adapt to changing conditions. Perhaps with climate change we could be looking at plants that like warmer temperatures for our gardens. Warm coastal gardens down towards Kerry already have numerous gardens filled with what we might consider half hardy exotics and they are thriving, even naturalising themselves in some cases, such as the many species originating in Chile and, of course, the Tasmanian tree fern-Dicksonia.

 

Mediterranean

Dry sunny sites such as we find in southern Europe are often thought of as difficult planting environments but if you prepare the ground beforehand – as described above, you will find it is much easier than you think. However, these conditions can also be used very effectively to create more continental style gardens or simply start introducing those plants that are tolerant of drier conditions.

 

50 shades of grey

Plants with silvery or grey foliage deflect the heat and therefore many of these plants are suitable for drier and warmer gardens and I will list some of the 50 shades here: Artemisia, Buddleia (some), Caryopteris, Cistus (some),Convolvulus, Coronilla, Cotoneaster (some), Cytisus battandieri, Dianthus, Eryngium, Euphorbia, Grasses (some), Geranium (some), Iris, Hebe (some), Helichrysum, Hippophae, Lavender, Nepeta, Olearia, Perovskia, Phlomis, Potentilla (some), Romneya, Rosemary, Salvia, Sedum (some), Santolina, Senecio, Stachys, Thymus (some), Teucrium and Verbascum.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

The good news is that the growth of lawns slowed down a few weeks ago – it is a good opportunity to eliminate weeds if they are a problem as the treatment works better if the grass is left uncut for as long as possible afterwards. Do harvest sweet and edible peas and beans often as if left unpicked the plant will get lazy and stop producing new crops. The last sowing is probably this week for most vegetables. 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.

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By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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