This Month in the Garden, September with Derek Cox

The Syston in Bloom committee is now composed of fourteen members and a number of these are younger, so will be a great help to those who have been its mainstay for many years. Having said this, Ron one of the members who have joined us this year is 86 years old and has proved a great asset, not only on the committee, but also as a volunteer in helping to keep the memorial park free of weeds.

St Paul’s Court is a small complex of 24 flats opposite the Dog and Gun pub against the brook side. This has been entered into the community East Midlands in Bloom awards and in mid July Dave, our reliable park keeper, and I showed the East Midlands in Bloom judge around St Paul’s Court and he seemed very impressed with what he saw. I thought it was a credit to all of the elderly residents, who have put so much time into creating such a lovely display of colour in not only flowerbeds, but also hanging baskets.

In one bed I came upon an evergreen Azalea, which had finished flowering and this, as with so many evergreen Azalea’s, including one in my garden, was suffering with an attack of Azalea gall. The gall is formed by a fungus, which causes the leaf to distort into blister-like lumps. You can control this by spraying with a systemic fungicide, but I just pick off the galls and drop them in the dustbin.

Lewisia’s are North American mountainside plants with rosettes of thick, deep green, evergreen leaves, during June and July flower stems appear carrying flowers mainly in yellow, orange, or red shades. In St Pauls Court, growing in a pot, there was a very impressive red Lewisia, which I must admit put mine to shame. Lewisia’s hate wet feet and are at their best grown in gritty soils, either in rock crevices, or even on their sides in dry stone walls. This year my bedding Begonia’s have put on an outstanding display of colour. The first twenty-five arrived from Thompson & Morgan during early May; these were plug plants, which I immediately potted up into 9cm pots. During the last week in May, they were then planted out into one of my borders, and came into flower during mid June.

The flowers were mainly shades of yellow or orange. As I was admiring them out of the kitchen window, my wife said, “I preferred the red ones we had last year”. So I drove over to Church View Nurseries in Barkby who had bedding plants on sale. Amongst these were two trays containing twelve red Begonia’s in full flower, which I purchased and took home. After planting these in a flowerbed very close to the kitchen window, I walked into the house and said to Vi, “What do you think to our red Begonia’s?” During last November, I wrote about a nursery in which 47 varieties of tomato were trialled for their flavour. This year I have grown the two varieties that came top of that trial, these are ‘Sweet Million’, which is a cherry tomato, also ‘Rosado’ a small plum tomato. I have grown three of each in separate growbags in my cold greenhouse. I always water tomatoes as and when required, on hot days probably twice a day and during cold spells only once a day. Every week they are fed with Tomato fertilizer and as they put on such vigorous growth, by the first week in July I gave each plant a teaspoonful of Sulphate of Potash, which not only slows the growth down, but also helps the plant to produce more flowers and consequently, more fruit. I cannot eat tomatoes, but Vi tells me they are gorgeous.

My half-standard Lycianthes rantonnettii, due to lack of room in the conservatory, was over wintered in my cold greenhouse, where it was wrapped in layers of horticultural fleece. After repotting in May, I pruned the head back to keep it more compact, it was left in the greenhouse until the first week in June, by which time it had produced new growth and deep blue flowers. During the first week in June I pruned off side shoots that appeared near the base of the stem and cut these into six inch, 15cm lengths to insert as cuttings, the cuttings are now shooting, but will remain in their pots before repotting next April.