Colourful Chrysanthemums

First cultivated in China as a flowering herb in the 15th century BC. An ancient Chinese city Xiaolan was named Ju-Xian meaning ‘Chrysanthemum city’. It is suggested the flower was introduced to Japan in the 8th century. There is even a ‘Festival of Happiness’ in Japan celebrating the flower which was brought to Europe in the 17th century. Linnaeus named it using the Greek for ‘golden’ chrysous due to the colour of its original flowers.  They are very easy to cultivate, provide a vibrant amount of colour and can be used in different designs and forms. Flowering in autumn they can have spirals, globes and feather like petals.

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Vibrant Verbena

Verbena is a garden classic that can bloom and perform all summer long with very little effort. It’s origin is South America. Some are considered tender perennials while others are seen as short lived annuals and encouraged to self-seed. They vary in growth habit from spreading, ground cover, containers, edging and garden beds. They have attractive airy stems and flowers that soften any garden. The flowers are delicate funnel shaped borne in clusters and can range from white to pink, red, blue, purple and apricot. Verbena bonariensis is a popular self-sown annual in the genus to grow. It is best as a one year old and allowed to self-seed throughout a bed or gravel. It is suggested to deadhead all forms to encourage extended season of blooms. It is great for attracting butterflies into your garden. Miscanthus and other grasses work well as a contrasting planting combination.

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Enchanting Echinacea

There are five species of perennials in the genus
which share similar characteristics. Most species are native to the prairies of central Canada and the Midwestern United States of America. They all have the cone-shaped flower heads with ray florets in various colours. They are attractive plants to grow in your garden with their erect, coarse stems and a good contrast to floppy less structured plants. As well as a valuable cut flower they can be used in fresh or dry arrangements. Many gardeners leave the flowers on over winter for birds and they look good in frost conditions. The dried root is known for being used in modern herbal medicine, skin products and shampoos. The genus is derived from the Greek word echinos ‘hedgehog’ referring to the plants’ prickly cone flowers. Echinacea perfom best in fertile soil that is well drained. Despite this they are tolerant of poor soils and can be drought tolerant once established.

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Super Salvias

Salvias are fantastic plants to grow and they provide a vast array of colours that will brighten any garden. They have a fragrant foliage and are excellent at attracting pollinators. These plants just scream summer – with so many available they will suit everyone’s taste. Salvias are very diverse and can be used in containers, borders and as ground cover. Salvias can range from annuals, to hardy and long blooming herbaceous and evergreen perennials. Most can be propagated by seed or cuttings.  Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ flowers beautifully between the last of spring bulbs and the beginning of early summer perennials.  It prefers full sun and requires no staking and typically can re-flower again in late summer.

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Plants with Purpose

Plants can be used and viewed as functional objects. They connect the garden together and highlight the visual appeal.  A plant shouldn’t be put in a garden unless it has a purpose.  Some typical plant uses are listed below:

Structure

Screening

Foliage Colour

Floral display

Texture

Softening of garden features

Places for the eye to rest

Plants can be used in masses, others as individual specimens, and others in challenging growing conditions. It is also important to be unsentimental about plants once their purpose has past and then remove them. This helps rejuvenate areas in the garden and helps provide space for new plants. It allows the theme of the garden to continue and flow. The personality of a plant is also an important point to consider. Is the plant best as a lone specimen in a pot or better used continuously throughout a bed for contrast and visual interest?  Plants can help define a space, create and open closed areas as well as frame views. Think about your future plant choice wisely!

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Flowering Bulbs (Geophytes)

Bulbs are beautiful yet short lived by producing a great floral display at once, storing food for the following year, then becoming dormant. The bulb itself is essentially a large storage organ. For successful blooms the following year the foliage must be allowed to ripen naturally and not be cut back until it dries and turns brown. Inter-planting with other attractive plants helps disguise dying foliage. Botanists and horticulturalists refer to this group as ‘geophytes’ which is a plant with a bulb, tuber, corm or some other storage structure. Bulbs are typically most widely seen in spring eg. tulips and daffodils, but there are some summer bulbs like lilies and autumn bulbs such as Colchicums. Bulbs can be used in beds, woodland, lawns and containers. Sweeps of vibrant bulbs add colour to perennial borders while other plants are dormant. The vast majority of bulbs are planted or transplanted when dormant. Small bulbs can be planted with a bulb planter that removes a small plug of the soil. For larger bulbs a large fuel powered drill can even be used or long handled bulb planter.

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Clematis viticella ‘Etoile Violette’

DSC_0005This variety is long flowering and typically easy to grow. It can be grown up a tree, shrub, arbour, or even in a combination with a contrasting climbing rose. The variety ‘Etoile Violette’ is fully hardy and produces wonderful displays of deep purple flowers which have a light yellow centre. It flowers from July to September and is known for being able to stand up to windy conditions. It is also resistant to clematis wilt and prefers a neutral well drained soil. The flowers are produced on the current year’s growth and belong to the horticultural group Viticella. It can be propagated by layering or semi hardwood cuttings. It falls under Clematis Pruning Group 3. This means it should be pruned in late winter or early spring when the buds show signs of growth. When this happens cut back all the old stems to the lowest part of healthy buds 15-30cm above the soil. If young clematis plants are left unpruned they will produce long stems with only flowers produced at the top. Why not try this stunning and easy to grow clematis in your garden.