Although I only grow half a dozen different varieties of annual bedding plants, for many years the hybrid Impatiens always used to put on a colourful display from late May until the frosts put a stop to them during October. Then, throughout the whole of Europe, the hybrid bedding forms all came down with a virulent attack of mildew, which wiped out the whole of the stock causing them to be unsaleable. As a consequence nurserymen were reluctant to grow them.
However, this year my old friend Stuart from the large wholesale firm of Ball Colegrave sent me an email showing their new selection of bedding plants including their newly introduced mildew resistant
Impatiens ‘Beacon series’. The next week along came a parcel containing six ‘Beacon series’ Impatiens, which I potted on and now they are massed with flowers. Stuart also emailed the photograph, shown above to Fiona just to show how colourful they are.
Also during April, from a different nursery I purchased three different Verbena ‘Endurascape’ in colours of red, pink and purple. The pink ones have been planted in the soil around the base of the golden Iris yew which I had planted in place of the large conifer I had taken out during April 2018. The red ones have been planted at the rear of my rockery to complement a bed of golden Heucheras. As the colour purple will be lost amongst the shrubs and other perennials in my borders I thought they would look attractive in the boxes on the platform at the railway station.
Incidentally, Verbena ‘Endurascape’ are perennials that only grow 9/10 inches (9cm) tall and will eventually form a carpet some 12 inches (30cm) in diameter. Here I must point out, although they are fairly hardy, they will not thrive in waterlogged soils.
During early June I informed Vi that I was taking out the orange winter pansies that for months in two small troughs on my terrace had given us colour throughout the late winter and spring. Vi said “Why? They are still colourful.” They were, but they were starting to flag and as is always the problem with winter baskets and containers, when do you take them out to make way for summer bedding? As a compromise I said that I was replacing them with her favourite red Begonias.
Although I grow a great many alpine plants in both rockeries and gravel screes, unlike many alpine enthusiasts, I am not averse to growing the common Aubrietias, which for years have graced parts of my garden. My favourite is Aubrietia ‘Argenteovariegata’ whose cream variegated foliage is an excellent backdrop to its lavender-blue flowers.
Aubrietias can look tatty after they have finished flowering and then it is the time to cut all of the plant back almost to ground level to allow young new growth to appear.
There are numerous variegated forms of the evergreen shrub Euonymus fortunei and one of these Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n’ Gold’ which cloaks the base of the wall fronting Syston library. This, as is the fault with most variegated shrubs, is that they are prone to reversion. For those who do not know what reversion means, nature always breeds plants from seed and the strongest with the most chlorophyll (green matter) will survive. Variegated plants often appear as mutant branch sports and these are taken and propagated by nurserymen as attractive garden plants. Nature still wants these plants to have plenty of chlorophyll so green branches will appear and these, if not removed, will soon overcome the variegated plant. Having told you this, I have a 30 year old plant in a border which has pure golden leaves, this has never reverted, but it is very slow growing and now after 30 years it forms a prostrate evergreen carpet only six inches (9cm) tall by four feet (1.2m) in diameter. Most of the variegated Euonymus fortunei make excellent ground cover, or when planted against a wall or fence will often climb over six feet (1.8m) up it.
For you vegetable growers, we started on our ‘Rocket’ potatoes during late May and now we are cropping ‘Charlotte’ that has a far superior taste.