THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN, June 2013, with Derek Cox

Many years ago when holidaying in Cornwall we visited Tintagel to see the ruins of King Arthur’s castle, to my surprise, growing on the top of the cliffs there was a large carpet of South African succulents, which at that time I thought were some form of Mesambryanthemum. I grew a number of these in a heated greenhouse and was amazed to see them growing on the cliffs unaffected by both cold and sea salt. Therefore, I planted a few outside in well-drained soil, but the first frost killed them. Last year I purchased a small pot grown plant of Delosperma, which looked almost the same plant as those I saw growing on the Cornish cliffs and this was supposed to be hardy. I planted it in a raised trough together with other alpines, this produces yellow daisy-like flowers, but they only opened in sunlight and to my surprise it came through last winter.

During April, I received J.Parkers catalogue and in this, they listed Delosperma’s in five different flower colours, so I ordered them and after receiving them, I up-potted them and Vi has bought me a fiberglass trough in which to plant them. If they turn out to be fully hardy then I shall stand the trough on four sandstone-walling blocks in a sunny spot in the garden. During last summer when looking around my Brother Ron’s garden in Queniborough, I spotted a brilliant red hollyhock and later it set a good crop of seed. During April of this year, I sowed the seed in cell trays in my cold greenhouse, quite a number germinated and now I am waiting to see if this comes true to colour, if so I shall introduce it as ‘Ron’s Red’.

I have a ‘Brazen Hussy’ in my garden, but the wife does not care if I have a hundred, as the ‘Brazen Hussy’ in question is a Celandine, which has coppery-purple foliage and contrasting bright yellow flowers. This Hussy is quick to form a broad clump and if it has one fault, it is that occasionally it will produce seedlings in my lawn.

During late May, or early June I always pop along to Goscote Nurseries just to admire the forty-year-old tree of Cercis siliquastrum, which is on the left hand side of the entrance to the nursery. This tree is commonly known as the ‘Judas Tree’, which produces clusters of pink, pea-shaped flowers on its old wood, flowers even appear out of the main trunk. Matt, who is a long serving nurseryman, came and asked me if I had a Judas tree in my garden? I said no, but I had often thought about it, so he took me down to look at Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’, which is a form of the Chinese Judas tree. The plant in question is almost 2 feet, 60cm tall and the old branches had clusters of pink flowers. Needless to say I bought one and it still sits in its pot awaiting a spot in which I can plant it.

My Rhododendrons are at their best between mid May and mid June and this year ‘Blue Diamond’ has been outstanding, pictured below. Although listed as a low growing shrub, mine, due to it growing between two other Rhododendrons is now almost 6 feet, 1.8m tall and it has so many blue flowers it is difficult to see any foliage. My runner beans ‘St George’ are now growing in 2 litre pots and are almost 3 feet, 90cm tall so I have to cane and tie them to prevent them smothering other plants in my greenhouse. I plant these, three to a 50-liter black tree tub and as they grow, I create a wigwam of 6 feet tall canes to support them. Last year I stood one tub close to a 15 feet, 4.8m tall Japanese maple and the runner beans, after reaching the top of the canes climbed almost 12 feet, 3.6m into the maple.