This Month in the Garden, July 2014 with Derek Cox

This year, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War there will be numerous red poppies flowering throughout Europe. I too have a number of red native poppies growing in my borders and these are usually only referred to as weeds, but I also have a superb clump of Californian poppies, shown above, whose deep red flowers contrast well with its feathery grey-green foliage. These have been in my garden for two years and appear to be perennial, but I feel that one hard winter will kill them.

Mention the word Convolvulus and the first thing that springs to mind is our native bindweed, which if it gets its roots into your garden is very difficult to eradicate. Bindweed or Bellbind as it is commonly referred to, can be seen twining in the hedgerows throughout the British Isles. However, I grow Convolvulus cneorum, which unlike the troublesome twining weed, is a low growing, evergreen shrub with silvery-grey foliage and white, open trumpet-like flowers. I grow this in an ornamental pot, and throughout the summer months, it stands on my terrace, but this far north it can be a little tender, so during the winter months it takes up residence in my cold greenhouse.

Clematis Dancing Smile 2

In the past, I have mentioned about my fondness for Clematis, and many grow up trellis, pergola and even large shrubs, but I have never been fond of double flowered Clematis. That is until last year I received two small plants of Clematis ‘Dancing Smile’, shown left, which has an amazing double, lilac-pink flowers, which look like pompoms. ‘Dancing Smile’ is not a strong grower and would be suitable to grow up an obelisk in a large container.

Rhododendrons seem to do quite well in my sandy loam, and although most flower during April and May, I have two, which start to open their flowers during June. Rhododendron nakaharae ‘Mount Severn Stars’ is a very dwarf alpine, evergreen Azalea with upward facing orange-red flowers, and this is ideal to grow in a rockery.

However, the other is Rhododendron ‘Alexander’, which I purchased many years ago as only growing 12 inches (30cm) in height. I am glad I did not plant this in my rockery, as although it only grows 12 inches (30cm) in height, it is now 5 feet (1.4m) across, but it forms a carpet of bright orange flowers, which due to their late flowering do miss any frost damage.

Kalmia latifolia (below) is a tough North American shrub with dark green, laurel-like foliage; in fact, the American’s referred to this as ‘The Mountain Laurel’. At one time, I had four different flower colours of this shrub, but now it is just the species with a sugar-pink cluster of flowers. This North American shrub will grow tall, but my twenty-year-old plant is growing beneath a large maple and this has restricted its growth to only three feet (90cm).

Kalmia Latifolia

Many people will associate the name Geranium with the tender brightly coloured greenhouse and bedding plants. These are not Geranium’s, but Pelargonium’s, which are close relatives. Most of Geraniums are hardy herbaceous perennials that vary from low growing alpine forms to much taller species. In my garden, I do find the carmine-pink Geranium sanguineum is by far the easiest to grow, in fact, seedlings of this species appear in various places throughout my garden, one super dome shaped seedling is growing in gravel scree and for most of the summer, it produces numerous lilac-pink flowers.

Syston Town Council have once more entered the RHS East Midlands in Bloom competition, so the Syston in Bloom committee, together with the Town Council are pulling out all the stops to show the judges not only Syston’s wonderful flower display, but also our parks, the cemetery and last, but not least, the Towns heritage. So do pull together and help to give the town a clean and welcoming appearance.

Might I also add Syston in Bloom’s front garden and container competition; this is open to all no matter what size your front garden is, just put on a good display.