Wednesday, 17 June 2020

LONG SUNNY SPELL BRINGS OUT THE FLOWERS

                                LONG SUNNY SPELL BRINGS OUT THE FLOWERS

Although lockdown restrictions are now being relaxed a wee bit and we can now venture out, but not too far, it is still great to return to our place of rest and relaxation amongst the early summer flowers in the garden.
Cistus purpureus
After two months of continuous sunshine and very warm temperatures
towards the end of May and into June the flowers just love it as long as we give them plenty
irrigation. Rain has been non existent apart from one April shower at the end of April, none in May, and a bit more beginning June so with a bit of luck the soil water deficit will be returned to normal and planting can continue without the need to water before and after every planting of vegetables and summer bedding plants. This is a great time for flowers from shrubs, herbaceous, ground cover and the first summer bedding plants and now all the roses are well into their flowering season.
Iris Jeanne Price
Rhododendrons and Azaleas were at their best in May but later varieties are still in great form into June provided they got plenty water during the dry spell. Anna took the opportunity to practise some layering of the best Azalea colours so we can add a few more plants. The lockdown has given us more time to see which plants give the biggest colour impact and others that are not so great, so these will need replacing. Some Phlox subulata, Doronicum and Pulmonaria died out as the dry weather was not to their liking so they will be replaced with a few drought tolerant plants such as the succulent ground hugging Delosperma nubigenum. This is very easy to propagate from cuttings so a batch of plants are now growing in cellular trays. They will be ready to plant in a couple of months. Alliums put on a good display but it was very short lived in the dry weather.
Oriental Poppies
Viburnum mariesii and Cistus purpureus were both looking great but they had to have constant
watering to prevent the flowers flagging. However Lilacs flowered over a long time and my outdoor Fuchsia Mrs Popple has started flowering and will continue till the autumn.
Our small border of herbaceous plants has been a real eye catcher as the bright red Oriental Poppies with huge flowers all came out together. Red Peonies are also in flower apart from pink Doreen, as well as the first bearded iris. My favourites are the deep purple Dusky Challenger and the yellow Jeanne Price. Border pinks are also trying to flower but the unusual sunny weather, which is
normally in their favour, may also be helping an invasion of aphids on both flowering shoots and leaves. There is just too many to kill by rubbing off so the sprayer will be needed.
Pansies still flowering
Greenfly are also a serious problem on the Oriental lilies, roses, both bush, shrub and climbing. The first rose out was the climbers Dublin Bay and Gertrude Jekyll and the first bush was the white scented Margaret Merrill, but spoiled by the greenfly invasion. The last two are both scented with a lovely perfume letting me know I don’t have that coronavirus symptom. Even amongst all the summer flowers it is hard to forget the pandemic is never too far away.
The spring bedding plants of wallflower, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus are now all finished apart from some polyanthus in a shaded border that are still flowering and my two hanging baskets of winter pansies are still a mass of colour. They may have been replaced but I keep them on the patio as long as they keep flowering, but now it is the turn for the geraniums, begonias, petunias, nemesia and marigolds to provide the colour in summer. At the present moment all the geraniums are bursting into flower as they just love all this sunshine. Lets hope it continues.

Wee jobs to do this week

First pick of strawberries
th May. So much for two months of continuous sunshine, though the late frost did blacken the first flowers. The local blackbirds just love them so make sure the row is covered with a net. Slugs also enjoy the strawberry so sprinkle a few slug pellets along the rows, and place some straw between the rows to prevent rain splashing soil onto the fruits. Also watch out for mice as they are also fond of a few berries. They eat the seeds around the surface but leave the rest to rot. Enjoy this summer fruit.
Early varieties of Strawberries like Mae and Christine are now ready for picking. My first berries were ready at end of May but last year I was picking on 11

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