This Month in the Garden (August 2017) with Derek Cox

During the last week in June, my son Johnathan came and took us to his house in Taverham, Norfolk where, together with his wife Tracy, they had created a superb garden that contained not only shrubs, perennials and bedding plants, but also container grown cherries (which we picked and ate the next day), also apple trees that had all been grafted onto dwarf rooting stocks.
There was a huge giant willow herb, see picture right, growing in a small border, so I went to pull it out saying it was a weed. “No” said Tracy, that is an Echium that I purchased recently, there was no sign of an Echium, but only a label saying it should be.
The next day we visited the garden centre where she had purchased this so-called Echium and it was then I could see why she had been mistaken as a great many of the perennials had died and weeds were growing in their place. This taught Tracy a lesson that the label in the pot does not mean that it is necessarily the right plant, but just a pot of weeds.
The following day we visited the Urban Jungle at Old Costessy, Norfolk. We always like to visit this nursery as it has a sub-tropical showground and stocks so many unusual plants, some being on the tender side. I still finished purchasing Ugni molinae ‘Butterball’ that has small light green leaves and small almost round white flowers, I also purchased the variegated form ‘Flambeau’ whose leaves are variegated with yellow. Both originate from sub-tropical Chile and I shall have to keep them pot grown to enable me to put them in my greenhouse during the winter months.
One other evergreen shrub that immediately drew my eye was Mitraria coccinea ‘Clarkes Form’ whose bright orange flowers said ‘buy me’, so I did. This is also a slightly tender shrub from Chile and needs planting where it gets protection from hard frosts and cold winds, so I planted it in well prepared soil close to my South facing fence where a large Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ will not only help to give it protection from cold winds, but also ‘Sundance’s’ golden leaves would contrast greatly with the Mitraria orange flowers.
Vi loves Alstroemeria’s, so we finished up purchasing a plant of ‘Princess Diana’, right, whose yellow petals where splashed with light brown and striped with black, also ‘Princess Elaine’, shown bottom, with rosy-red striped brown flowers. Both were planted in with the existing Alstroemeria’s, which meant moving five clumps of polyanthus, my soil six inches (15cm) down was as dry as snuff, so after digging out large planting holes I then had to fill the holes with water and let this soak in before working plenty of garden compost into the soil prior to planting.
I sometimes mention ornamental plants which resemble our native so-called weeds. This month it is Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ a lax ornamental shrub that is a relation of the woody nightshade, whichis often seen growing in hedgerows. I saw ‘Glasnevin’ growing against an archway in my son’s garden and it looked outstanding massed with light blue flowers. This is not a natural climber, but a lax shrub that is best grown trained and tied out on a trellis, or against an archway. During June my container grown ‘St George’ runner beans had their leaves shredded by strong winds and the consequent hot weather caused the leaf edges to turn brown, but the three plants of ‘St George’ which I gave to my son Johnathan and which I saw growing in his allotment at Taverham had no leaf damage and as a consequence had six inch (15cm) beans on them.
Having fed my beans twice with liquid seaweed fertiliser during early July, a new lot of leaves appeared and now I can say that we are once more picking our own beans.