UP THE GARDEN PATH AGAPANTHUS
If you are looking for a mid- to late-summer architectural statement plant, then look no further than Agapanthus.
These long-flowering, drought-tolerant plants are perfect for the summer garden. Sometimes called Lily of the Nile or the African Lily, there are around 600 different varieties to choose from, that range in colour from pale and indigoblue to dark purple. The name Agapanthus is derived from the Greek words ‘Agape’ meaning love and ‘anthus’ meaning flower, which is why it is affectionately known as the flower of love. Agapanthus are easy to grow, perfect for containers or as specimen plants in a summer border or planted on mass to edge a pathway for that exotic look. These adaptable plants are often seen growing in nooks and crannies near to the coast, being wind and salt tolerant, makes them perfect for a coastal garden. Agapanthus fall into two main groups semievergreen and deciduous. One of the best semi-evergreen varieties is Black Pantha with its deep blue-black flowers that burst from almost black buds and grows to about 40 cm tall but will need some winter protection. The deciduous perennial varieties of Snow Crystal or Windsor Grey make a good choice if you fancy a white flower, or if you prefer the blue-purple colour varieties then Royal Velvet with its purple bells and a near black stripe along the length of each petal on sturdy upright stems is the one for you. Or how about something different? Golden Drop has lilac-blue flowers that emerge from a dense clump of green foliage edged in yellow. All varieties like to be in free-draining soil, and when planting young plants into containers restrict their roots by adding 2 or 3 plants to each. During the growing season, feed plants regularly with a high potash liquid feed to encourage more blooms and apply a liberal layer of mulch in the autumn to protect from frost.
These trouble-free plants really are a good choice to add to your garden, even the pests leave them alone! Snails, slugs, deer and rabbits will leave these gorgeous specimens to get on with what they do best, which is to bask in the hot summer sun.
Until next time, Julie
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It might feel odd to even think about it now, but it’s time to start planning your early spring gardening displays. In the next few weeks, a vast array of spring flowering bulbs become available and these will need planting over the next month or so in order to create displays in the New Year and beyond. Such displays are often vital in giving hope in some of the darkest months and then inspiration as spring starts to take a hold.
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In this list are daffodils and narcissi, tulips, crocus, hyacinths and the like. The bulbs are available from early August but the range peaks in September and October. The beauty of bulb gardening is that the first task is to spend some glorious time choosing the bulbs in our vast displays! The perhaps harder (yet still enjoyable) task of planting can wait awhile! Making one’s selection whilst the range is at its highest is a good idea and the bulbs will be happy being kept cool and dry whilst waiting for space to be available in the garden. It also means that when it’s time to plant, the soil should be moist and easier to work. Indeed it is traditional to wait until November to plant tulips.
One bulb that will need planting sooner though are hyacinths for flowering indoors at Christmas. These are what are known as prepared bulbs, which have been specially treated to induce them to flower within a specific timescale. If you’d like the beautiful scent of a hyacinth on Christmas Day, then the bulbs will need to be planted before 25 September. In order to get a bowl of, say, five plants all in flower at the same time, my suggestion would be to plant the same colour bulbs in individual pots in bulb fibre in a cool and dark space. To get five evenly growing bulbs, plant about seven or nine and then later choose those that are most matching in their growth. Bring the bulbs out into the warmth and light once the flower buds have pushed up past the leaves – that’s usually just a few centimetres of growth.
For planting outside, there is a huge selection of tulips available with some spectacular flower colours. With all bulbs just
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about, the larger the bulb, the greater the potential for flowers. We have a great selection of large-sized tulips, including the almost black Queen of the Night which is spectacular. At the other end of the colour scale is the pure White Dream. Equally as dramatic are some of the green and white varieties, such as Spring Green which grows to around 20 inches (50 cm) or the slightly smaller and yellower variety Formosa at 12 inches (30 cm). For a slightly showier flower with similar colours choose Exotic Emperor, which grows to a height between the other two.
Something really unusual is the variety Ice Cream which caused me to do a double take when I first saw it! A short-stemmed variety, the white petals force up through the middle of pink outer petals giving the effect of an exotic ice cream, as the name suggests! It also reminds me of a protea flower and is well worth a look. Dwarf daffodils and narcissi are always a delight and so useful in tubs and baskets, as well as in the ground. As a centrepiece to a tub or basket, varieties such as Tête-à-tête, February Gold and Jack Snipe will force their way through the rest of the planting to perform at a time when everything else is finding it tough. For something a bit different, have a look at Rip Van Winkle with its shaggy double flowers. Some of the varieties are also scented. Spring Dawn is such and also flowers very early in the season.
I’m a fan of the dwarf iris. There is something about the structure of the plant and its neatness when it’s in flower that pleases me. Often the varieties are scented and the blues such as Harmony and Clairette are particularly good. The yellow Danfordiae is great too.
So lots to choose from for a beautiful display next year and no work to do… just yet!
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THE PARADISE OF YOUR GARDEN
It really is looking like holidays abroad may be off the cards for a while, so it is time to make our outdoor spaces at home feel at least a little like paradise.
Easy access to the wonderful world of overseas outdoor spaces may be dampened this year, with most of us considering whether to leave foreign travel and holidays for another year. This can only mean one thing; we will have to draw from past experiences and bring some paradise to us.
Due to the pandemic, we’ve all been somewhat forced to live a more outdoor lifestyle, but we know that sometimes with English weather this can feel pretty impossible. Whether you decide to plant Musa Basjoo to make your garden feel like a Japanese haven, or a few palm trees, there is sure to be a way to bring paradise to you. In other words, you may not be abroad, but with a glass room like ours you can make your garden feel like a tropical paradise.
Maybe, once before, you went to a different country and you fell in love with certain colours or plants? The chances are you’ll be able to find them here somewhere and be able to plant them in your own garden or perhaps choose LED lights in those colours for your outdoor room. You can also opt to include an integrated sound system and play music or sounds that make you feel as though you are back in that tropical paradise once again.
When it comes to furniture, we recommend bringing in something you can relax in; a recliner or one of the on-trend hanging egg chairs. You may even want to bring the bar to you and install one inside your glass room allowing you to make all the tropical cocktails you can think of, thus making it feel all the more paradisiacal.
The uses for a glass room really are endless: a bar, a hot tub cover, a relaxation room, a tropical paradise. When decorating your glass room and rejuvenating your garden, you want to take into account what you want it to feel like and think about where would you like to take a holiday. As already mentioned you could plant some Musa Basjoo and decorate your glass room with Japanese vases and wall decor to create that authentic Japanese feel. Alternatively, you could fill your garden with palm trees and mount a surfboard on the wall of your glass room to make it feel like you are on Venice Beach.
Stop waiting to get back out into paradise, bring paradise to you.
Thank you for reading, see you next month!
Looking out the window at the falling summer rain, I watched a little wren who was busy again. Storm or not she had young to feed, Whilst other birds sheltered in shrubs and trees. Amongst the flowerpots insects she would seek, Her second brood calling with expectant cheeps.
Beak full of grubs amongst roses she flew, Back to the nest that only she knew. Built using moss, twigs and pride, Deep within the ivy, a perfect place to hide. She divided the bounty between her young, Raindrops on ivy leaves sparkled in the sun.
If wary of a predator or another bird, with a shrill call she made herself heard. She taught her young to feed and fly, A joy to observe, these days slipped by. The little fledglings have now safely flown, From the nest within the ivy, they called home.
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