Monday, 19 May 2014



The spring bedding displays were brilliant as the cool weather prolonged the show, but as it came to an end we look forward to the next display of flowers as we begin to plant the summer flowers.
There is any amount of summer bedding plants available in garden centres, nurseries and stores. However be quite selective for colour and type to make sure your flower beds have the best and don’t just go for basement bargains as the chances are these will be inferior colours.
Some plants such as fuchsias, tuberous begonias, geraniums and impatiens, (Bizzie Lizzie) can be retained from year to year once you have got the best colours in each group. My begonias and geraniums have been with me for over fifteen years, but I lost my impatiens a few years ago when an attack of red spider devastated them.

Tubs, hanging baskets, flower beds and any other spare land can be planted up or sown down with annuals from seed. The allotment has a display border at the front which gets all my spare plants as well as a chrysanthemum bed and a few rows of gladioli for cut flower for the house.
Sweet peas were planted several weeks ago and are now beginning to climb up their weldmesh supports.

Flower beds and tubs
I have two main beds which I alternate each year, so my main bed will get the tuberous begonias this year as they got geraniums last year. The geraniums are quite hardy so they were the first to get planted as most had stood outdoors in a sheltered spot since the beginning of March. I got lucky as the threat of frosts just did not happen. I have planned my colour schemes for harmony or complete contrast. Salmon pink geraniums will be central in a tub with deep blue petunias and my white geraniums will have pink and red petunias and impatiens. Red geraniums will be planted with Nemesia carnival and some deep blue lobelia.

One tub of fuchsia Swingtime, an old favourite, was left outdoors plunged into my compost heap hoping the fermentation process would generate enough heat to keep it cosy after my greenhouse was destroyed in last Decembers gales. It was later transferred to the new greenhouse in April and has never been happier. It has started to flower already but that is a wee bit too early.
Tuberous begonia corms are well sprouted and getting quite big, so I usually cut a few in half in early May when potting up to increase numbers as long as each portion has several young shoots. I never loose any as they are quite tough.

Hanging baskets

These get planted up in early May and kept in the greenhouse till they bulk up. I line the basket with a plastic sheet cut from an old compost bag with the black colour facing outside. Half fill with compost (home mixed with added garden soil, sand and rock dust) then cut a few holes in the side and push a few plug plants through before topping up with more compost and completing the planting. There should be enough trailing and bulking up plants such as nemesia, impatiens and petunias to create a complete ball of colour once established. My baskets sit on a large pot for several weeks before erecting them on the wall brackets. Keep them well watered and fed all summer. I always use some dark blue petunias in baskets at front door entrances as they have a fantastic scent which makes visitors very welcome.

Chrysanthemums and gladioli
Chrysanthemum stools are retained from one year to the next but usually topped up with new varieties as some often die over the winter, or I just fancy a new variety. As stools grow, cuttings are taken and rooted indoors. These are then potted up and grown on under glass before hardening off in early May. I plant mine out in a bed three foot wide planting about nine inches apart. They are supported by weld mesh wire slowly raised up on four supporting posts as the plants grow. I grow spray varieties for display and cut flower so do not need to disbud. Depending on the variety, early  chrysanthemums may need two foot spacing if grown in a single row and staked individually.
Gladioli are planted in rows a foot apart spacing the corms four to six inches apart depending on their size. They are planted about four inches deep. Each year I buy in a few extra varieties to increase the colour range.

Plant of the week

Azalea Hinodegiri is a dwarf evergreen Japanese azalea with scarlet flowers. However this one which I have had for over thirty years may be Vyuks Scarlet, the label getting lost in the mists of time. The plant explorer E H Wilson discovered this range of hybrids of Rhododendron obtusum growing in the mountains above the Japanese city of Kurume. He brought back his selection of the best fifty in 1920 which became famous as the Wilson Fifty. They come in a wide range of colours from pure white to pink, mauves, orange and scarlet. They root very easy from cuttings taken in autumn and kept cool and moist.


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