Wednesday 29 March 2017

Blooming lovely

Dermot O'Neill

For the gardener, July is a month when you can really start to appreciate the colour in your garden. Roses are looking great, along with a wide range of other plants, including fruit and vegetables. But it's not time to sit down! There are still many things to be done -- plenty of liquid feeding and dead-heading, and don't forget to keep an eye out for pests and diseases, most importantly slugs and snails. A little effort now will keep the garden in top-notch condition well into autumn.

David Austin Roses

Garden centres all over the country currently have a good selection of David Austin roses on offer. One of David Austin's first introductions was called 'Constance Spry', after the famous flower arranger, in 1964. It's a beautiful pink climbing rose and can still be ordered today.

In more recent times, a wide range of new colours and shapes have been superseding each other. One of the most popular in recent times is the variety 'James Galway', named after the Irish flautist. This is a beautiful, full double pink with a very soft, light scent. It's excellent for cutting and, providing it's deadheaded, will flower through the summer. You can buy and plant roses now.

It's important to prepare the soil and, if you can afford to spend money on one variety, it always looks best if they're planted in uneven numbers -- three or five, for example.

Fuchsia

If you're looking for a shrub to fill a spot and to get colour between now and the autumn, it's hard to beat a fuchsia. A very attractive variety, which is widely available, is called Fuchsia 'Genii'. It has golden-yellow leaves and large fuchsia flowers, which are red and purple. The combination is very striking and can transform a lightly shaded spot by adding vibrance and colour.

It's happiest when grown in soil that doesn't dry out and, while it's establishing, you need to keep it evenly moist. To get the best display for the rest of the summer, an occasional liquid tomato feed will encourage more flowers.

Potato Vine

Why not try something a little different if you're looking for a climber for a sunny wall? Though not strictly a climbing plant, rather a scrambling shrub, the potato vine (Solanum crispum 'Glasnevin') is best grown with a trellis or support. It's a fast-growing plant that gives a marvellous display throughout the summer.

It's called the potato vine because the flowers resemble those that appear on potato plants. The Glasnevin originates from our National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, and has become a popular wall plant throughout these isles. It can be planted now.

There is a white-flowered type called Solanum jasminoides 'Album', which needs more space as it's a larger, sprawling plant that will quickly cover a wall. In full flower, it creates a spectacular show.

Tomatoes

It's important to pay close attention to tomatoes, especially as they're starting to ripen. Established plants carrying fruit will benefit from a regular weak tomato feed. Avoid extremes of too wet or too dry at all costs. This can easily happen during warm, dry spells . Harvest tomatoes as they ripen. Those that ripen on the plants will taste superior to those picked and allowed to ripen off the plant. I always enjoy the flavour of a freshly picked, ripened tomato that's still warm from the sunshine. Those you buy in a supermarket can never compare.

doneill@ independent.ie

Irish Independent

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