This Month in the Garden, June 2019 with Derek Cox

During May a number of self seeded Lunaria annus ‘Albo Variegata’, pictured here, were at their best their creamy-white variegated, nettle shaped leaves giving a superb backdrop to its sprays of small mauve-pink flowers.
This attractive annual will attain two feet (60cm) or more in height and is tough enough to self seed in most garden soils. The normal green leaf species is well known under its common name of honesty, its added attraction being its flat, round seed pods that are often used by flower arrangers.
I often find time to pop along to Goscote Nurseries on Syston Road, Cossington, which I helped to start during March 1964. Inevitably I usually come away with yet another one, or two new plant introductions. Last week whilst there I spotted and could not resist Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Irene Paterson’, pictured right, an evergreen New Zealand shrub whose new leaves are almost white. This shrub is slow growing and produces small yellow flowers during the summer. I have a feeling this might be a little tender so I shall pot it up and put it in my greenhouse during the winter months.
Abelia x grandiflora ‘Lady Peach’, pictured below, is a dwarf, dense, evergreen shrub whose narrow green leaves are richly edged with peachy-gold. Its bell shaped white tinged pink flowers are produced during late summer. This will also remain as a container grown plant to over winter in my greenhouse.
I must admit that whenever we go to a garden centre, or nursery, my wife Vi will say to me ‘You must not buy anymore plants as the garden is so full’. That was until my daughter Louise and her hubby James took us to Bretby Garden Centre. There Vi came across some superb Sempervivums and bought six, needless to say then we had to purchase a low round container in which to plant them, see picture below.
At one time I had over 50 varieties of Sempervivums (house leeks) which the blackbirds would pull up and throw about in their search for wood pigs (pill bugs). I wonder how long it will be before they set about Vi’s container?
At the same garden centre I spotted nine cm pots of a brilliant orange Gazania that must have been grown in a greenhouse to have been in flower by early May. I planted this in my sandy loam in full sun as Gazanias, like most South African plants will only open their flowers in brilliant light.
I love May as all of my Japanese maples are in full leaf. My oldest is a 50 year old, 15 feet (4.5m) tall Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ whose rich, red leaves add a difference to the tree colours in my garden.
‘Oridono Nishiki’ is the same age and almost as tall, but the foliage is outstanding being, white, pink, or even a combination of both colours. As young plants variegated Japanese maples are prone to sun scorch, but my old plant has come through some dry, sunny years without showing any sign of scorch.
My first early potato ‘Rocket’ which I planted in 50 litre black tree tubs during the 15th March are now two feet (60cm) tall and by late May are ready for us to harvest as new potatoes. The skins are so thin you can almost rub them off with your fingers.
My runner beans ‘St George’ are now almost 6 feet (1.8m) tall on their canes in 50 litre tree tubs and would you believe it, they are now in flower so I shall expect to be picking beans in three weeks time.