Summer breezes can breathe life into your garden
Published 18/08/2015 | 00:00
Spray runner beans with water on hot days
I think this has been the windiest summer I can ever remember. Not just breezy but strong to gale force winds a lot of the time. Strong winds and gales are not great for plants as they are very drying and can cause leaves to scorch.
A gentle breeze however can add beauty to your garden in the often overlooked form of movement. Gardeners will always look for colour, shape and texture in their planting but movement can be neglected but is also a vital component and provides a serene and peaceful atmosphere. If you have a garden full of lifeless static planting you are missing out.
Many plants come into their own once disturbed by a breeze. Take a field of wheat or barley not particularly interesting on a still day but when the wind send waves of movement across them they take on a whole new and beautiful dimension. All grasses, which after all wheat and barley are cultivated versions of, respond well to windy conditions.
Stipa gigantica [Golden oat]and the super soft Stipa tenuissima [ Mexican feather grass] are both to be recommended. Deschampsia 'Bronze Veil' and Pennisetum 'Hamln' are also great movement providers but with grasses it's hard to go wrong.
Populus tremula [the aspen] is not a stand out tree until the slightest puff of wind sends its leaves, as the name suggest, trembling all over. With this movement we are given another treat to the sense in the rustling noise so prominent in moving foliage. Populus tremula 'Pendula' is a beautifula weeping cultivar that makes a great lawn specimen or a feature tree by a large pond.
Birch and willows are also trees given extra interest when the wind blows. Betula pendula ' Tristis', tall and weeping and B. pendula ' Lacinata' with a feathery cut leaf are two outstanding birch. The golden weeping willow Salix x chrysocoma and the shimmering silver leafed Salix exigua are both beautiful and easily ruffled.
Although Japanese maples crave shelter they can be very effective when teased by a light wind. Acer palmatum ' Seiryu' is an upright variety with the lacey foliage of an Acer dissectum and is always a worthy garden plant.
The aptly named Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo' or in English Acer 'Floating Cloud' has leaves speckles pink , white and green is another beautiful and worthy candidate that will bring life to your garden.
Two large shrubs that are vastly underused in my opinion and are amongst my favourite plants are Hoheria and Tamarix. Hoheria sexstylosa an evergreen with white flowers in August. Tamarix could also be called 'floating cloud' because in flower it resembles a smokey haze looks lovely against a blue sky background.
Tamarix 'Pink Cascade' and T. 'Hulsdonk White' are to be highly recommended. Both these plants make large evergreen shrubs or small trees and are useful in coastal gardens where breezes are the norm rather than the exception.
Many herbaceous plants are ready made to wave in the wind. Perhaps the best of all is Dierama pulcherrimum [Angels Fishing Rods] a well know plant with pendulus bell shaped flowers off arching wiry stems. Gaura 'Whirling Butterflies' hides nothing in its name producing white flowers on apparently fragile stems that are actually remarkably resilient as they flutter even on the stillest of days.