Thursday, 1 June 2017



We have enjoyed a brilliant spring display of flowering bulbs, wallflower, polyanthus and pansies, but as most have now given us their best it is time to make the change over to the summer bedding plants for beds, borders, tubs, pots and hanging baskets. As usual my winter flowering pansies refuse to die down and always seem at their best just when I need to remove them, but with some care they can be replanted into a border where they will continue to flower for a few more weeks.
Summer hanging basket
Any tulips, narcissus, crocus or hyacinths removed from tubs and baskets can be replanted into a spare patch of ground to allow them to die back slowly. Once they are fully dormant they can be lifted for storing somewhere dry and free from mice. The bulbs can be planted in borders in the autumn and left undisturbed to naturalise.
Before planting up pots, tubs and baskets freshen them up with some new compost and some fertiliser. It is ok to retain a fair bit of the old compost but it will be deficient in humus and nutrients, so will benefit by the addition of fresh compost.
Tuberous begonias
We can now plan for the summer displays using whatever we have grown ourselves plus other bedding plants from garden centres which offer us a great variety. We all have our favourites that we continue to grow every year. I have my own range of geraniums that give me a dazzling red, a lovely pink, a pure white and a salmon with a strong zonal leaf effect. I retain these varieties by taking cuttings at the end of summer and growing them over winter on a windowsill. My tuberous begonias were purchased about twenty years ago and although the tubers can get to a fair size I just chop them up as long as each bit has two to three shoots. They never let me down.
It is good to have a range of bright dazzling colours, but I also like some white petunias and  as well as Nemesia and trailing Lobelia.
Impatiens to cool down the display. For a splash of yellow there are many good varieties of dwarf French marigolds, but keep the African Marigolds for larger tubs and borders as they can grow a fair size. Tubs and hanging baskets also need edge plants to hang down the sides so I use Impatiens
Summer bedding plants
Where ever I have a hanging basket beside entrance door ways I add in some dark blue Petunias as they have a wonderful perfume, and I usually place a bright red geranium in the middle for impact.
Fuchsias are also perfect in baskets as we can appreciate the flowers best when they are at eye level. Two varieties that really stand out are Swingtime a red and white double and Southern Belle a white with deep purple petals. Another perfect hanging basket plant is the trailing tuberous begonias available in a wide range of colours. It is a good idea to plant up the hanging baskets well ahead of time and give them some greenhouse protection (if you can find space) to get them established, and make sure the wall support brackets are strong enough to take the weight as a large hanging basket that has just been watered can be quite heavy.
When planting up beds, borders and other spare places in need of brightening up we can extend the range with Antirrhinums, Salvias and African Marigolds and for a soothing drift of deep blue Lobelia Crystal Palace is just perfect.
Dot plants were once essential to add height and character, but times change so we don’t see so many Caster Oil plants, Brugmansias (Angels trumpets) or Kochias or even Zea maize, though you could substitute it with a few sweet corn plants.

Wee jobs to do this week
Sweet corn freshly planted
Sweet corn sown at the end of March was potted up and grown in the greenhouse to make a strong plants which were ready to plant out towards the end of May. I choose land that has been well manured or composted and as the ground has been lying vacant there has been just enough time to grow a fast acting green manure to improve soil structure before it gets dug in a fortnight before the sweet corn needs the space. Space the plants just over a foot apart in a square block. This assists pollination in summer as these plants are wind pollinated.


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