This Month in The Garden August 2012 with Derek Cox

On the morning of 28 June, I rang Fiona of Syston Town News to say my garden is looking outstanding, so would you like to come over and take a few photographs? Fiona said she was busy, but would pop around the following day. Then, during the afternoon disaster struck, this was in the form of a violent hailstorm, which took not only the flowers off most of my plants, but also a great deal of the foliage off trees, shrubs and perennials. The hailstones were so large they even broke a great many of the panes in the roof of my greenhouse. I rang Roger who occasionally helps me in the garden and the following day he replaced all of the broken glass. My leaf Vac came in very handy to both shred the leaves and then blow them into the back of the borders. The shredded leaves will not only rot down into compost, but also help to suppress weed growth. In the past, I have mentioned how fond I am of alpines, or should I say rockery plants, as many of the plants that I grow in my rockeries and screes have never seen the Alps, many are either native to mountainsides throughout the temperate world, or are dwarf sports of taller growing plants. In my front garden, I placed two large pieces of sandstone in a limestone scree and many years ago, one of the rocks developed a crack. Five years ago, a tiny evergreen Cotoneaster appeared in the crack and it is now only six inches,15cm in diameter, but is completely prostrate. It has never flowered, but its leaves are similar, but smaller than those on a large, prostrate Cotoneaster Dammerii, which grows in my neighbours drive. Recently whilst browsing around a garden centre I came across Cistus x Hybridus ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, which forms a dwarf, compact dome shaped evergreen shrub with small gold variegated leaves. During late June, July and early August ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ produces white, tissue paper-like flowers that are blotched with yellow in the centre. This has gone into a space in the limestone scree, not only for its summer flowers, but also for its foliage that will help to brighten a winter’s day. Amongst the perennials in my garden are five different varieties of ‘Princess’ Alstroemeria’s, which to my wife’s delight, provide her with cut flowers from June until October. Last year at a nursery show I came upon Alstroemeria ‘Rock n’ Roll’ whose foliage is mainly cream edged with green, which provides a brilliant contrast with the plants red flowers. A plug grown plant of ‘Rock n’ Roll’ arrived by post during the middle of June, but it looks weak and spindly, I have potted it on and await to see if it will survive. Last year I purchased Gazania ‘Apache’ and grew it in a pot on my patio, where it produced huge, orange, daisy-like flowers although listed as hardy I over wintered it in my cold greenhouse. During last April, I split the Gazania into two and now I have two superb plants whose grey-green leaves show off their orange flowers. During the hailstorm in June my runner beans lost all of their flowers and their leaves were badly shredded, consequently we were almost a month later than last year in picking our own runner beans. Many of the tops of my potatoes where also broken and the broken tops needed to be cleaned up to prevent potato blight. Although we still managed to start cropping them during June; so far, the earlies and second earlies are producing a much smaller crop than last year.