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Saturday 25 November 2017

Flowers that keep giving

By Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Dubiously named Salvia 'Hot Lips'
Dubiously named Salvia 'Hot Lips'

Dead head roses as they die off

Verbascum 'White Blush

Colour in the garden is for most gardeners their main objective, particularly in the summer months. I'm not a total advocate of the colour only approach as there are many unusual and charming plants that are overlooked that are purely of foliage interest. As an example I came across a plant, new to me, last week called the holly fern [Cyrtomium falcatum] which as the French so beautifully phrase it has a certain 'je ne sais quoi' without bashing me on the head with showy flowers.

Long summer bloomers what we are looking for to bring colour into our gardens over the next few months. Bedding plants are widely used for this but need replacing every year. Repeat flowering roses will gamely provide colour in flushes sometimes into late autumn and beyond. These are not the only options however as there are many long flowering plants we can use to brighten our gardens and therefore lives that bloom for four or five months weather depending. Give these plants as much sun and shelter as you can to get the longest flowering time.

In the shrub department Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'[perennial wall flower] is a small evergreen sub shrub that must be top of the list. It will flower from April to November without a pause. Some bamboo and wire support is recommended for this plant as winter storms can rip it from the ground.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Alba' with dainty white flowers will make a medium sized shrub that will bloom from April until the frosts. All hardy Fuchsia will flower from June till frosts. Euryops pectinatus with bright yellow daisy flowers on a compact evergreen grey/green shrub flowers from May until August and sometimes again in early winter. Abelia 'Edward Goucher' is an evergreen/ semi evergreen medium sized shrub with small tubular pink flowers in abundance from July till early winter. Shrubby mallows, Lavatera, will flower with pink saucer blooms from June through late autumn. The sunny side up fried egg like flowers of Romneya coulteri will persist from late June until late autumn. The sub shrub Salvias like the dubiously named 'Hot Lips' with two tone red and white flowers will bloom unchecked from June until winters onset. Hydrangeas, Potentillias and Hypericum 'Hidcote' are also long flowering.

In the herbaceous department the Royal horticultural society proclaimed Geranium 'Rozanne' plant of the century with its blue flowers with white centres produced from June to October. Geranium palmatum is another floriferous and more dramatic Geranium with evergreen foliage resembling a ferns and pink/ purple sprays of flowers up to a metre high from May to August. It can be short lived but seeds easily so you'll never lose this plant.

Another short lived but equally beautiful perennial is Gaura 'Whirling Butterflies' producing a profusion of white flowers from June to frosts. Not hardy everywhere and susceptable to wet but well worth replanting every year if lost. Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' also sold as Scabious 'Irish perpetual Flowering' with pale blue flowers June to September commonly called the pincushion flower. Less common than these is Stobilanthes wallichii which is called a perennial but I have seen it growing in Irish conditions and it is more a kin to a sub shrub. Producing a continuous stream of purple/blue flowers from August until the cold stops it.

Other more common yet equally desirable in both beauty and longevity of flower are Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'; Verbena 'Lollipop; Penstemons, Nepeta [catmint], Geums, Japanese Anemones and Anthemis 'Hollandaise Sauce. There is enough variety here to stock a summer garden without an annual or rose in sight. And if you have a vacant sunny wall or pergola try Solanum jasminoides 'Album' for good measure flowering from July untill November.

Wexford People

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