How to get summer colour in your garden:
“We never stop planting in our garden. We aim to have both major planting schemes and summer bedding in place by mid-June. Thereafter we fill gaps as they appear. This philosophy requires a regular supply of plants grown from seed and cuttings, so it helps if you are a compulsive propagator, which also saves money!”
“Plants that are invaluable for providing colour late in the season are easy to grow and to propagate, if you factor their timing into your schedule. We sow seeds of zinnias, which dislike cold of any kind and will refuse to grow until night temperatures are around 10C, anytime from the beginning of May until mid June. In a cold glasshouse, the seeds germinate within a few days. As Zinnia seeds are large, we sow two to a single pot, thinning them down to a singleton when they are large enough to handle. Other plants grown similarly from seed now are Cosmos, Cleome, Tithonia and the white flowered form of corn cockle, Agrostemma.”
“We take cuttings from dahlias, using young shoots cut from the tubers when they are around 8cm tall. The easiest way is to grasp the shoot between finger and thumb and gently wiggle it back and forth until it breaks from the mother plant. You may notice some small bumps around the base of the cutting – these are formative roots. Placed in a propagator, dahlia cuttings will root within a couple of weeks. After potting, when they have made four pairs of leaves, the tips are pinched out to ensure a bushy plant. Once planted in the garden they will begin flowering from late July and continue lustily until the first frosts.”
“Many of the plants that we grow for summer effect are quite rare nowadays. It’s the specialist nurseries and gardeners that mostly grow them because they are inconvenient for bigger garden centres. They either grow too slowly, or they get too big, and many gardeners only get to know them later in life because their popularity is small. However, when I plant out a large plant of Clerodendrum myricoides ‘Ugandense’ for the summer and visitors see it smothered in its small bluish-mauve, butterfly-like flowers, they all want to buy it.”
The gardens at East Ruston Old Vicarage are open Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays, 1pm-5.30pm, until 28 October 2017. Click here for more visiting information.
Find 1L plants of Clerodendrum ‘Ugandense’ for £7.50 here.
Read more about our favourite zinnias for summer colour here.