It’s that time of year afresh back Ireland’s garden centres, accouterments food and bazaar chains are abounding with animated displays of anniversary bedding plants awash of colour, affecting you to buy them. Hot blush surfinias, begonias the colour of auto drops, ambrosial stock, popsicle-coloured pelargoniums, sherbety cosmos, fruit-gum coloured osteospermums, cascades of peacock-blue lobelias, violet verbenas . . .
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If you’re new to the apple of gardening, it can feel a little like walking into a sweetshop, while alike acclimatized gardeners acquisition it difficult to arrest themselves from avid on all that high-octane colour, abnormally back it comes with the aside affiance of long, hot summer canicule abounding with picnics and barbequeues. But authority your horses, as aloof a little accurate planning will accomplish all the aberration to the quality, floriferousness and constancy of those abundant longed-for displays of summer colour.
Let’s alpha with the containers, which should be as ample and as baroque as you can manage. Not alone will a few out-sized pots or urns add much-needed beheld ballast, accord and adherence to any summer display, they’ll additionally accomplish the job of befitting your plants able-bodied fed and watered a accomplished lot easier than if you were growing them in bisected a dozen abate pots. By large, I beggarly at atomic 60cm (2 feet) in bore and at atomic 30-60cm in height.
Where to get them? Wicklow-based Dunne & Dineen accumulation Irish garden centres with an all-encompassing alternative of garden containers including the admirable Impruneta ambit (among BBC agriculturalist Monty Don’s favourites), which Marcus Dunne describes as the “crème de la crème” of garden pots. Handmade to old Italian designs and frost-resistant to temperatures of -12C (so they can be re-used for spring-flowering bulbs), these are admirable in their own right. But they’re not bargain (from €100-€300, accessible in abounding acceptable Irish garden centres). Added affordable options accommodate Weather Wise Clay Ambit (frost-resistant to temperatures as low as -25C) while the company’s ambit of granite-clay appearance pots are additionally added accepted (dunneanddineen.ie). Wexford-based Kiltrea Bridge Pottery (kiltreapottery.com) and Kerry-based Louis Mulcahy Pottery (louismulcahy.com) additionally accumulation admirable ranges of garden pots advised accurately for alfresco use.
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Next, let’s allocution about the growing medium. This needs to be beginning (so actually not aftermost year’s tired, spent compost), affluent in bulb nutrients (important back you’re growing so abounding plants cheek-by-jowl), and moisture-retentive yet free-draining. You could use some acceptable affection bootleg garden admixture alloyed with a little acceptable alluvium and base agronomical dust (available from acceptable garden centres) , or get yourself a few accoutrements of acceptable affection John Innes-type admixture accomplished with some added agronomical dust and a scattering or two of slow-release pelleted amoebic fertiliser. Add some burst pieces of polystyrene lath to the actual basal of the pot afore bushing it, to save on admixture and advice with drainage.
Now let’s allocution about the plants themselves. Resist the appetite (one that about all altruistic gardeners ache from) to buy any woefully alone trays of water-deprived, angled plants in the achievement of resuscitating them. This array of compassionate agronomical A&E may be accomplished back it comes to added kinds of longer-lived plants – shrubs, trees, alike perennials – but time is of the aspect back it comes to authoritative the best of what brief annuals accept to offer. Instead bind yourself to specimens that are in aiguille action (dark green, advantageous leaves, none/ actual few achromatic flowers, lots of anniversary buds, no signs of actuality pot bound) and accept been kept well-watered and fed (so no dry or ashen compost).
Next, let’s allocution about putting calm a affectation that will be visually beautiful, long-lasting, floriferous and accessible to maintain. Begin by chief on a colour arrangement and a affair – it ability ablaze and tropical, for example, or romantically pastel, or abundantly gothic – and stick to it.
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But don’t feel you accept to stick alone to annuals. There are bulk of accomplished perennials including able geraniums, astrantias, salvias and geums that can be agreeably congenital into a summer alembic display. In fact, abounding declared anniversary bedding plants (examples accommodate fuchsias, argyranthemums/ marguerites, tuberous begonias, dahlias, amber cosmos, plectranthus), can be overwintered in a frost-free glasshouse or garden afford to be re-used for years to come.
Always buck in apperception the accent of foliage interest. By their attributes flowers are brief while the leaves of handsome foliage plants such as the ablaze Plectranthus argentatus, Cineraria ‘Dusty Miller’, wine-red perilla, ample aeoniums, cannas, accessory grasses, persicarias and assorted varieties of coleus in all their fruity, activated colours and zebra-stripes will accord you abounding months of interest. For example, one of the favourite combinations of Cork agriculturalist Hester Forde, who is acclaimed for her adult alembic displays of summer colour, includes the ample Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’, silver-purple Lysimachia ‘Beaujolais’, silver-plum abounding Astelia ‘Red Devil’, Plectranthus argentatus, the aerobatics Plectranthus hadiensis var. tomentosus, pale-pink fuchsias and Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’, all buried calm in a ample and handsome zinc tub..
When it comes to burying up your summer pots, balloon the accustomed rules apropos bulb agreement and instead bulb abundant added carefully (15-20cm apart), but accumulate in apperception the closing acme of the altered breed or varieties. I additionally acquisition it advantageous to absorb the plants’ root-balls in a adulterated aqueous seaweed augment aloof above-mentioned to planting. Remember, too, that about all acceptable anniversary bedding plants crave a cloistral atom in abounding sun (the few exceptions accommodate active lizzies, abaft fuchsias and begonias) so don’t plonk your pots in a cool, adumbral bend area they will languish. Similarly, if you garden in one of the colder genitalia of the country, authority off burying until the end of this ages or accomplish abiding to accumulate your freshly-planted alembic adequate from algid nights, Once planted, baptize generously, booty accurate precautions adjoin slugs/ snails and accumulate plants well-watered and consistently fed (aim for a aqueous augment every 10-14 days). Regular deadheading is additionally basic for a affably floriferous and colourful affectation that will abide until the aboriginal acrid frosts of autumn.
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Lovely lilacsMid to backward May is lavender time, back these able shrubs (Syringa vulgaris) are about at their floriferous and best ambrosial best in Irish gardens. While container-grown lilacs can be buried in the garden at any time of the year, it’s consistently a acceptable abstraction to buy them from a garden centre while they’re in anniversary as this way you can be actually abiding you’re accepting the array of your choice. A advanced ambit of cultivars are about available, including the admirable white-flowered Syringa ‘Madame Lemoine’, the mauve-flowered Syringa ‘Charles Joly’ and the anemic lavender ‘Syringa ‘Katherine Havemeyer’, all of which ability an boilerplate closing acme and advance of 6-7m. Added bunched forms are additionally accessible for abate area which ability an boilerplate acme and advance of aloof 1.25-1.5m including the Syringa ‘Flowerfesta’ alternation (available in pink, amethyst and white) and Syringa ‘Red Pixie’. All lilacs like a moisture-retentive well-drained, abundant aloof to acrid clay in abounding sun or ablaze shade.
Sweet pea If you buried your candied pea into the garden in April, again the plants will be in active advance by now. Accomplish abiding to acclaim tie their fast-growing stems assimilate some array of vertical abutment – alluringly chicken-wire anchored to a filigree or garden bank or accurate amid able posts – to ensure the plants don’t become damaged or circuitous together. If you’re growing them in ample containers or in abound bags, it’s additionally actual important to ensure that they’re consistently and abundantly watered as candied pea plants abhorrence their roots to be sitting in dry soil or compost. An casual aqueous seaweed augment is additionally actual benign in agreement of ensuring acceptable advance and aboriginal flowering.
Vegetable plantsLate May is one of the busiest times of the year in the allocation or kitchen garden and abnormally this year as gardeners comedy bolt up afterwards the continued algid winter. Now is the time to either sow berry or displace adolescent container-raised plants of abounding kinds of vegetables including beetroot, radish, turnips, spinach, chard, peas, carrots, agent beans, leeks, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, rocket, banknote and lettuce. If you’re growing frost-tender varieties such as pumpkins, candied corn, Florence fennel and courgettes, authority off clearing them outdoors until you’re assertive that any blackmail of a backward bounce frost has passed. In colder genitalia of the country such as the midlands, or in college distance gardens, this agency cat-and-mouse until the end of May or aboriginal June.
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Today (19th May, 10am-4.30pm) and tomorrow (20th May, 10am-2pm) St Paul’s College, Raheny, Dublin, pop-up garden and bulb auction with blind baskets, planters, window boxes, bedding plants and perennials for sale. Tuesday May 22nd (8pm) Foxrock Parish Pastoral Centre, 18 Kill Lane, Dublin 18, “Essential Plants for a Acceptable Garden”, a allocution by UK nurseryman and agriculturalist Kevin Hughes on account of Foxrock & District Agronomical Club; see foxrockgardenclub.com Saturday 26th May National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 (3.30pm), a chargeless Irish Sign Language bout of the gardens; see botanicgardens.ie
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