Monday, 20 June 2016



Gardening is a year round activity with flowers, fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers for the house, winter landscaping and digging and trying out new plants and ideas. I grow a very wide range of plants and am often asked, “What is my favourite plant”. I suppose everyone has their favourites, but I like so many that I cannot single out just one, so I thought I would look at those that have the biggest impact on me throughout the seasons. I try to create a garden that has at least one area of impact for a couple of weeks or so then another area has its day. This means bringing together plants that flower at the same time, rather than have them scattered around the garden.
Betula jacquemontii
There is a distinct lack of flowers in the garden from November to the end of February when the snowdrops appear and indicate that winter is coming to an end. Though the last few years, with mild winters, the snowdrops have been coming into flower from December onwards. My winter border has Kerria, Japanese maples, cornus and other coloured stemmed shrubs that brighten up the dark winter days, with my favourite, white stemmed birch tree, Betula jacquemontia. The main trunk is a brilliant white and on a clear day with blue skies it is very dramatic.
Once the warmer weather comes along there are numerous plants all competing for their two to three weeks of glory. At ground level the crocus can make a great show followed by daffodils then tulips in late spring, but this is also the time for rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias to flower as well as the flowering cherries. It is very hard to pick a favourite as each group can make a bright splash of colour in their own time before the next one has its turn. Last year my favourite would have been my red Camellia Adolph
Doronicum with tulip Negrita
Audusson, but this year the biggest impact was from a large group of yellow Doronicums which I had underplanted with a purple tulip all flowering at the same time.
This year after a long cool spring summer arrived and lasted a lot longer than we could have hoped for so the garden just burst into flower. Summer colour usually belongs to the roses, but before they came into flower I got a fantastic show from my oriental poppies, flag iris and Euphorbia polychrome.
Climbing rose Dublin Bay
Then at ground level my deep pink phlox and bright yellow Delosperma were outstanding and both came with a fantastic perfume. By mid summer my red climbing rose Dublin Bay stole the show as it covers the front of the house from ground level right up to the roof. Just a pity it has no scent, but for sheer impact it has to be the favourite.
Fuchsia Mrs Popple
As summer fades and autumn takes over the dazzling colours of deciduous trees and shrubs will brighten up most gardens with my maple Sangokaku hard to beat, but Fuchsia Mrs Popple comes into flower from mid summer and last year continued till the first frosts arrived. It was definitely the favourite with the added bonus that the mass of flowers all produced a wealth of edible fruit. These all got picked and put into the juicer for a delightful and very different drink.

Wee jobs to do this week

The allotment has benefitted from great growing conditions, but now many rows of radish, lettuce, dwarf French beans, beetroot, chard, turnip, Swedes and parsnips are all needing thinned out. I usually do this in two operations with the first to remove weeds and give the seedlings room to develop, then the final thinning is to select the strongest plants and thinned to the desired spacing.


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