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Going potty in the garden
With the summer now well upon us and relaxation time well on the way. Why not get rid of the old spring pansies, bulbs and primroses and replace them with some of the many tried and tested varieties of patio plants. I grow most of my summer plants in pots because they are easier to look after and grow much better in good potting compost. Bedding plants in the garden are fine but if you want really fantastic richly coloured displays you will get far better results by growing plants in pots. Modern composts are formulated these days to cater for all of the needs of a well kept pot area. The other advantage of having everything in pots is that you can move them around to get the best from the best each week.
There are plants to suit any pocket with the straight forward bedding plants such as Busy Lizzies and Begonias giving a cheap and really colourful display for months and moving on to the slightly more expensive New Guinea Busy Lizzies and million bells as a trailer.
The Garden Centre industry has seen a wealth of new summer inspirational plants over the past few years and there are double trailing petunias, hanging basket sweet peas and even tumbler tomatoes to add a bit of edible interest to our displays. There are now even hanging basket trailing Busy Lizzies adding to the arsenal of colours. The illumination series of begonia gives a versatile plant that can trail over your pots or grace your hanging basket with a super selection of colours. You can ask us to design you pots if you like and get them planted hassle free.
Far too many people plant up their pots in a good compost and then 6 weeks later after a bit of sporadic watering wonder why they look drab and a bit yellow.
Follow these tips and you will not go wrong.
Firstly choose the colour combination of plants that you want.
Plant in decent compost that has a wetting agent added to it.
Keep moist at all times without drowning it and feed every time you water with half strength liquid fertiliser such as phostrogen or miracle grow. If you keep your plants healthy they will shake off diseases such as mildew.
Use larger plants in the centre of the pot to create height and let sunlight do the rest.
Regular deadheading will prevent the plants from going into seed production and will maintain their vigour and flower power.
I have an lot of orange and yellow spots on my Torbay palm. Can I get rid of these and will they harm the plant?
You have rust on your cordyline I am afraid. Plants that are under stress often get diseases as they are having trouble with coping in conditions that are unsuitable. Firstly try to treat the problem such as re-potting a root bound plant or feed a starving plant. Now remove all affected leaves even if it leaves just the central spike. Treat with a general fungicide spray such as dithane and accept that the old leaves cannot be cured but you can prevent spread to the new ones. A long term slow release fertiliser and plenty of water on dry hot days will help.
Things to do in May
Spray roses every 2 weeks with Roseclear or Multirose to keep them clean from pests and black spot.
Feed tomatoes that have the first trusses showing with Tomorite.
Weed and feed your lawn once and cut every 10 to 14 days. Or cut 3 times a week if a very fine one.
Stake perennial plants that are getting tall.
De tendril and side shoot sweet peas if growing large blooms for cutting.
Check Gas regulators and that gas bottles are full on barbecues ready for the summer outdoor season.
Plant out bedding if all frost has past.
Pot on geraniums to give a really good display in late June.
Sow summer annual seeds in borders on a 2 week basis to stagger flowering.
Water as needed on dry days and conserve water by directing at the roots.
Sit back enjoy your labours.
Grow your own grapes for wine even.
Plant of the month
This month is it the Olive Tree
Anyone who knows about geography will know that the olive line is a line that determines the latitude from the UK below which olives will fruit with success. This line is somewhere near the south of France. Above this line the olive fruits will not ripen except in odd years when the summer is a good one.
Here in the UK we are well above the Olive line but this does not mean that the tree is useless to us. There are over a hundred varieties of Olives and they are grown for oil or for culinary or eating purposes but there is an exceptionally hardy variety called cipressina that is very cold and wet tolerant. This tree suits the UK very well and fills a very wide gap in our plant world. It is one of the only evergreen slow growing trees that can be bought today .There are so few evergreen trees and this one is perfect for most gardens. You won’t get any edible olives from it but the flowers have a wonderful scent.
To get edible olives you need to get fresh 41 fruits from below the south of France and soak them for about 48 days, changing the water every day to get rid of the bitterness. Sounds like too much of a chore to me. Enjoy your tree though and be sure to buy the right variety. Don’t be tempted by cheap offers and buy a non hardy cultivar. . . I hand pick each one myself.