I can’t remember a summer without hydrangeas. Their large blooms bring flamboyant colour to the garden in late summer and autumn. They are easy to grow, dependable and improve with age. Use them in big, bold groups in the border, or even try them in large containers.
Hydrangeas are deciduous and can be either treated as large shrubs or small trees. They are grown for their beautifully domed or flattened flowers which appear from late summer for about a month.
The flowers normally consist of a mass of fertile flowers surrounded by infertile flowers which give the hydrangea its large flower heads. Hydrangeas are recommended for the amateur and the experienced gardener alike.
Mop head hydrangeas (with rounded heads of large flowers) come from Japan where the native species with lace cap flowers (flattened heads of large flowers) have been grown for hundreds of years. When these plants reached the west in the eighteenth century they caused a sensation, initially treated as tender and grown indoors. There are now many, many varieties to choose from.
Musician, singer and keen gardener Katie Melua is also a big fan of hydrangeas, and she told the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), “Even as a singular flower head, a hydrangea is majestic to me. Flowering from summer all the way through to autumn, large cone shaped hydrangea flowers command a lot of attention. The variety and richness of colours from white to the deepest purples are another glorious quality of this plant. Even when the flower is dying, the textures of the tiny flowers and the large florets, means the colours carrying on. I used a lot of hydrangeas at my September wedding and was able to keep and dry nearly all of them. They still fill the house with that richness and bring back the lovely memories of that day.”
Saliva, prices start from £7.99
A plant that is valued by landscapers and novice gardeners alike for its colour and structure is the much loved Salvia. It’s also a favourite of BBC Gardener’s World presenter Pippa Greenwood who says, “I’m a great fan of the hardier salvias. Even before the buds open they are attractive plants with erect stems, often with aromatic foliage and forming a sort of clump of exclamation marks. Then when the flowers appear, usually in shades of violet, purple, pink or white, they can bring any sunny border to life instantly. Provide these plants with a well-drained but humus-rich soil and plenty of sun and they are easy to grow…seriously rewarding and simply gorgeous!”
Salvias are long flowering, with the potential to put on a great show from June through much of the summer and into autumn. If you remove the flower spikes as soon as they have faded, or give the entire plant a serious haircut as soon as the last of the flowers fade, then they will keep flowering and you can often enjoy a second flush of flowers in October. They are much loved, not only by gardeners but also by bees and butterflies. Nominated and agreed upon by British growers and retailers, the HTA’s Plant of the Month campaign highlights the plants that are widely available and looking especially good each month.
I know it has been a wild and wet winter but there are an awful lot of plants out there flowering fit to bust! Some of the winter and spring bedding has taken a beating but pansies and violas are so resilient that they quickly recover with a few days good weather. March is the perfect time for a garden spring clean after the winter, re-invigorating and livening up existing flower beds, borders and containers. Pansies are the perfect spring plants – along with primulas, forget-me-nots and wallflowers and are perfect contenders for patio pots, hanging baskets and window boxes, ideal and easy to plant.
Pansies and violas are two of the most popular bedding plants and are great for filling the gaps in borders once you have cleared away bedraggled or dead plants. Their names are often used interchangeably. Plants considered to be pansies have four petals pointing upwards, and only one pointing down. Violets have three petals pointing up and two pointing down.
Both are hardy annuals that offer colourful flowers in your garden. They both need watering regularly and need to be planted in moist, well-drained soil.
Pansies and violas like sun and cooler temperatures. Make sure you remove fade or dead flowers to prolong blooming and encourage more flowers to grow bringing a joy of spring to a garden following cold winter months.
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We are definitely talking trees! Trees add structure to the landscape and garden. There are all types, shapes and sizes. From flowering cherries and crab apples to evergreen yews, there are trees to suit every taste and position imaginable. Trees offer different leave size, shape and colour and many have attractive flowers, fruits and seeds. There are those that flower magnificently in spring to those whose leaves offer brilliant autumn colour just before leaf fall
Trees can be selected for all soil types including very wet and dry land. They can tolerate acidic, chalky, sandy and clay soils. They even make up soils in new gardens or landscapes. …read more »
Meanwhile, perennial Asters, Sedums and Japanese Anemones are all on full song. All are easy to grow and have a good long flowering season. They can be planted almost anytime of the year but inevitably you will notice them more in the garden centre when they are actually in flower. Local soils range from sandy acid, to heavy alkaline clay and shallow chalk. Any of them can be improved with some good organic matter to grow this collection of autumn beauties. Asters [Michaelmas Daisies] include a large range of hybrids and it is worth checking labels to see that you have what you want in terms of height and colour. …read more »
So much to choose from – some just going over, some just coming in.
Phlox paniculata; the perennial border phlox is a long established group of garden plants. There are a number of other species, several of which are best grown in the rock garden.
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Fuchsias are grown for their very attractive, usually hanging flowers that are carried, more or less continuously from summer to autumn. They are useful in summer-bedding schemes, containers, hanging baskets or in the ground. Some fuchsias are hardy enough to be used as hedges and in permanent plantings.
Fuchsias were first spotted by European botanists in the at the end of the 17th century on the Caribbean island of Hispanola which is the current day Dominican Republic and Haiti, and occur naturally mostly in Central and South America. They were named after the renowned German botanist Leonhart Fuchs, who lived from 1500 to 1566. So, there you go!
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Lavender is a great favourite for many gardeners; it really is a romantic flower that most of us get the urge to plant in the garden sooner or later, adding real value many ways with its shades of blue flowers and silver leaved backdrop, its scents and the fact that it attracts all sorts of insects and butterflies.
‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ are two of the hardiest and most often planted cultivars of lavender. They are both compact forms that work well as hedges or in groups of 5 or more. Other taller varieties work equally well and to successfully grow lavender, it needs to be planted in a warm, well-drained soil with full sun. Lavender however, does not like ‘wet feet’ as it promotes root rot. Dampness is often the reason that lavender does not perform.
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Potatoes from your plot….
With the shortage of potatoes having driven the prices up in the shops, it makes sense to grow a few spuds yourself this year! They are easy and rewarding to grow and it’s good exercise too! Here are a few tips to getting started;
- Choosing seed potatoes from the garden centre (on sale now!) These are certified as being pest and disease free which is key to getting a good healthy crop. The seed potatoes are clearly marked on the packs:
- First early - choose these varieties if you want new potatoes early in the season. Plant mid to end of March to crop mid to late June
- Second early - plant these varieties early to mid April to crop late July to early August
- Maincrop - Plant mid April to crop early – mid August. These can also be stored for autumn and winter use.
- Chitting - Just means encouraging the seed potatoes to produce sturdy green shoots before planting. Place in trays or egg boxes with the end with the most buds uppermost somewhere light and cool (and frost free) until you’re ready to plant.
- Soil - Potatoes love an enriched soil – lots of home made compost or bagged rotted manure or similar. A general fertilizer is a good idea too but avoid using lime with potatoes.
Our full range of seed potatoes are now here and we have many varieties to choose from!
Amongst our ‘first early’ crop we have;
- Arran Pilot
- Pentland Javelin
- Vales Emerald
- Sharpes express
We also have a selection of Second early & Main crop. All come in 2.5 kg bags at £3.99
Vinca minor is a very popular ground cover plant and is a smaller version of its vigorous relative the greater periwinkle. Vinca minor’s leaves, flowers and growth rate are about two thirds those of Vinca major. This makes Vinca minor more suitable for a variety of uses.
It can be planted in smaller beds and borders, and is very useful in winter baskets and containers. It is also good at colonising poor, dry and slightly shady conditions. It’s creeping and arching stems soon make an attractive carpet of bright green foliage. The sky-blue flowers appear in spring and are very attractive set against the green leaves.Vinca minor can also be used as under planting for shrubs, roses and any odd corner of the garden that requires some greenery to brighten it up.
Vinca will grow in most soil types but like most other plants, requires good drainage at all times. It can even be grown as a substitute for grass under trees. Spring flowering bulbs like snowdrops and crocus can also be under-planted as companion plants to good effect.