Gardening advice by Alan Standring
by Alan Standring fron Earlswood Plants
It is true to say that no one has ever experienced a year like this in the gardening industry. It started off with what probably could be classed as an Olympic start, but soon collapsed when the desperately-needed rain fell and continued to fall until early July.
Even the hardiest gardeners have felt the trials and tribulations of this season: the only three things that have blossomed until now are weeds, slugs and snails.
There seem few plants that these slimy molluscs will not touch, leaving holes in the foliage and stripping stems bare. The problem is, they feed mostly at night and unless you are out with your torch, the only sign is the damage they have left behind and the tell-tale slime trails.
There are numerous methods of control varying from biological control to chemical or traps or if you are not squeamish, picking the slugs off is an option.
What we want more than anything now in our gardens is colour. Although most of the bedding plants have become jaded with the persistent rain, don’t become disheartened, for there is a range of plants that can fill this gap year after year: perennials.
The definition of a perennial is a plant that lives for two or more years. Most die back in the autumn to ground level, storing energy in their roots to send up new growth in spring.
They can provide colour from every shade of the rainbow and come in myriad shapes, textures, forms and scent.
Whether you like the striking upright blooms of traditional delphiniums and lupins, the graceful delicate foliage of fennel or the striking true blue or white large flowers of agapanthus, these flowers can plug a very useful gap. Try, too, the hot colours of day lilies and red hot pokers (Kniphofia).
Borders can be created from perennials alone, or they can be used to intersperse between specimen shrubs in borders to add interest.
As late August approaches, you need to look to the next challenge in the gardening calendar. Although this spring may have been washed away, now is the time to start planning for spring 2013.
For if you want to experience that sea of daffodils that Wordsworth once wrote about, you need to plant now. Other bulbs that need to be planted at this time of year include tulips, snowdrops, iris, fritallaria, and alliums.
Keep a watchful eye out for new varieties of daffodil, including Vanilla Peach, and Goldcrest, while on the tulip front there is a tasty new variety called Ice Cream.
Bulbs can also be added to containers and hanging baskets to provide a splash of spring inspirational colour.
Have you ever dreamt of harvesting your own potatoes on Christmas Day? Potatoes are normally planted in March for harvesting throughout summer and autumn, but there are varieties that can be planted in August or September, which can be lifted for Christmas Day if you have time. Worth a try!
Earlswood Nurseries, Just 1 mile from Junction 3 of the M42
Forshaw Heath Road, Earlswood B94 5JU
Tel: 01564 700152