Tuesday, August 09, 2022


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


THERE are a few additional advantages with gardening in this drier summer and that includes not having to mow the grass often and weeding slowed down to a manageable level. It was a pleasure to be ahead of essential tasks, so that more time could be spent leisurely deadheading faded flowers, pruning and training climbers, shrubs and fruiting plants.


Good year

It all started at the end of last autumn when we headed into a mild winter and those conditions continued through spring and are still with us. All of this means that plants endured no hardship and whatever we cultivated and nurtured has responded with good growth, including flowers and fruit.



It is often said that Ireland has an abundance of quality water and we did not quite understand what other people were talking about. We also scoffed at the idea of people buying bottled water and, of course, that would never take off in Ireland. How things have changed and it has now dawned on us that water is a precious commodity and we will have to manage it better in the future. Plants love rainwater but are happy to have household grey water too so it might be possible to set up water saving systems outside and also just walk outside the house to distribute sink and similar water around the plants.


Seasonal flare

At any time of the year there should be areas or points of interest and seasonal plants can achieve that. We always expound using long living plants as the mainstay of the garden with a limited but concentrated input of summer flowers. It is only by observing and spending time in your garden that you will notice any gaps or improvements that can be made and take note of that when you visit your plant nursery or garden centre.


Flowers galore

There are a number of easy to grow long living perennials that are great to brighten up the garden and they include Anthemis, Campanula lactiflora pink or blue (1m/3’), Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’(1m/3’) or dwarfer types, Cosmos ‘Cho Mocha’ (chocolate-scented flowers), Helenium, Rudbeckia, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, ‘Brilliant’ or ‘Stardust’ and Solidago.


Exotic foliage

It is quite uplifting to have some exotic or architectural looking plants in the garden without having to go the whole hog and have the entire garden created into a themed tropical paradise. Some hardy plants fit into this without having to include those that are not fully hardy and might not survive the winter. I would exclude Phormiums (flax), which can be very pretty with their brightly coloured strap-like leaves but they eventually become ugly thugs, and bamboos, while remaining delicate looking, can take over a garden if their roots are not controlled. Perfect plants include Fatsia, Trachycarpus (Palm tree), Acacia (Mimosa), Dryopteris wallichiana (large fern), Rheum (Chinese rhubarb), Rodgersia, Ligularia, Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker), Hosta (large leaved types), Agapanthus (large types), Yucca ‘Golden Sword’, Nandina, Hydrangea quercifolia and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’. Canna and Musa (Banana) can be included but need winter protection and coaxing to get growing again in the spring as they are slow to start again.



Pick flowers and vegetables from the garden and enjoy them in the home or give them away and the plants will continue to produce more. Harvest herbs like parsley and dry in a warm room before packing into plastic bags and store in the freezer for use during the winter.

Onions, garlic and shallots are ready for lifting when their foliage starts turning yellow. Dry the bulbs in full sun for two weeks before storing inside in a cool, dry place.

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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