Sunday, 24 July 2016



Our unpredictable Scottish summer could never make up its mind whether to come or go and garden plants take every opportunity to respond to highs and lows of sunshine and rain. Summer in May was brilliant but then the rains came in June and early July, so plants put on a great spring display then had a quiet spell while they returned to a growth period. Weeds were just as happy to make up for a late start. My garden and allotment was weed free before I took a week’s holiday at the beginning of July, but on return the weeds were all back and growing just fine, so the hoe had to reappear and give them a fright. Weeds had to be removed as frequent showers help them re-establish.
John checking his new dahlia collection
Although each type of flowering plant will have its own season of a few weeks, there is always an overlap, and some kinds have a flurry, then a wee rest and if the summer continues they will put on a burst towards the end of the season.
Summer flowering shrubs like Philadelphus, Senecio and Cistus have been brilliant, but the show stopper has been my hardy Fuchsia Mrs Popple. My bushes are now quite big, and seem happy to flower themselves to death. I am hoping for another harvest of berries from them to make a healthy summer drink. They put on massive growth during the mild wet weather, but then while I was on holiday, a thunderstorm passed by and several large branches weighed down with flowers could not cope and broke off.
Red petunias and marigolds
Rose borders, shrubs and climbers put on their best show in mid June, but with plenty dead heading they will continue to flower throughout summer and into the autumn. Shrub rose Ispahan was a mass of flower buds at the end of June, but unfortunately peaked during the wet week at the beginning of July, then sulked a wee bit, but now it is having another go at flowering so all is not lost, provided sunny days return.
Herbaceous plants such as the Oriental Poppies and flag Iris had a great show in June, but now it is time for the Delphiniums and Oriental Lilies. The exotic perfume from these lilies is fantastic, so I buy several bulbs every year to increase the stock and flower power. They are quite happy to grow amongst other plants such as dwarf Japanese Azaleas, peonies, Shasta daisies, so long as drainage is perfect and they can get their heads into full sun.
Delphiniums grew very strong with the mild damp weather but then the flower spikes were massive. However despite plenty of tying in for support, the thunderstorm which came while I was away on holiday did them no favours, and many of the spikes broke off at the top of the stakes.
Lilium After Eight
My deep purple Delosperma cooperi revels in the sunny weather. This succulent ground hugging plant thrives in the crevice of a south facing stone wall devoid of soil.
Hanging baskets with fuchsias, geraniums, petunias, lobelia and Impatiens were late to come into flower, but are now putting on a show alongside plant tubs filled with tuberous begonias. I bought these tuberous begonias over thirty years ago, and save the corms over winter. They have always been very reliable and as they grow bigger each year I just divide the corms in spring to increase the stock. They do not seem to be bothered with any pests or diseases and will keep flowering provided they get an occasional liquid feed.
I keep several dahlias for display as well as cut flower for the house, as they are another easy and reliable plant to grow.

Wee jobs to do this week

Pumpkins and courgettes are now well established but to get the best results from these hungry plants give them a weekly feed to boost growth, and fruiting. Pick courgettes when they are about six inches long as this encourages continued cropping.


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