This Month in The Garden, August 2018 with Derek Cox

After the wet, soggy winter from November 2017 to late April 2018, many plants died through becoming waterlogged, then from early June we suddenly have a period of weeks with little, or no rain at all and during this time plants, as they were producing their new growth, came under stress through lack of water.
I am a great believer that rainwater is the best for the garden and as a consequence I have six fifty gallon water butts in my garden, which catch water from my garage, greenhouse and shed roofs. However, after carrying two gallon cans of water to empty four of my water butts my arms and shoulders protested so I decided to fetch out my 40-year-old hose pipe reel.
After connecting it up to my outside tap and turning it on I found there was more water spraying out of the hose reel than was coming out of the hose. I popped down to Wilko’s and purchased a modern plastic hose reel. Needless to say, my new hose reel fittings were not compatible with the metal outside tap fittings, so I called Darren to see if he could help me.
Darren, who you will find in Stn under Souter bathroom Ltd, came along and quickly sorted it out, so I can use my hose pipe for my bedding and raised containers.
Centranthus rubra, pictured right, is a perennial with glossy grey-green leaves and spires of rosy-red flowers throughout the summer. I grow this and its pink flowering form ‘Rosea’ in well drained soil where, if dead headed to prevent them setting seed, will keep them producing flowers for months. If you do not dead head them they are inclined to seed themselves around the garden. Centranthus are often referred to as Valerians and as such both the leaves and roots, although used in the past as a medicine, if misused can prove to be poisonous. Lovers of butterflies should plant these as they attract both Painted Ladies and Red Admirals.
In the past I have planted and lost the SW Australian Blue Bell Creeper, Sollya heterophylla, pictured here, but even in my well drained sandy loam, without winter protection it has died. This slender, evergreen climber produces a mass of small blue flowers during late June, July and early August and is ideal to plant in a 25 litre container trained up a four feet (1.2m) obelisk. The container can then be taken into a frost free greenhouse, shed, or garage to over winter.
For many years my wife Vi managed to grow Osteospermum jucundum in a well drained gravelly border and this South African perennial used to produce its large, pale lavender daisies throughout the summer. However this along with a number of other South African plants could not stand the prolonged wet winter, so I dug out the remains.
Then to placate Vi, I purchased three annual Osteospermum’s and planted these in a trough on my terrace, these have produced a mass of large lavender-pink daises, see picture above, and it is a joy to watch the bees dancing over them.
This year my Alstroemeria’s have been a delight, there was no late spring frost to damage the new growth and as a consequence they flowered earlier and despite the June and July drought they have continued to flower.
An Alstroemeria that I purchased in 2016 is I believe ‘Inca Tropic’, pictured below, and Vi was very smitten with this as its flowers have rosy outer petals with a dark spot on the end of the petals, but it is the three inner orange-yellow petals are striped with black. The two 50 litre tubs of ‘Swift’ potatoes I planted last April were harvested and eaten by the end of June. Now we are harvesting ‘Charlotte’ a second early that has a far superior taste to ‘Swift’.