Favourite flowers of 2006

This year we enjoyed a great display of spring bulbs. This was indeed a treat as I am a gardener who is always changing planting schemes, resulting in bulbs being lost! I was about to sow this area with grass when I suddenly had the brainwave of planting bulbs in the area first – so they would grow up through the grass.

I planted a number of species narcisi, crocus and fritillaries and was thrilled to watch their progress. After the bulbs flowered, I deadheaded but left all stalks and leaves. I cut my grass around the display until the end of June, when I cut straight across it. I expect these bulbs will naturalize as they will remain undisturbed, we should then enjoy displays for a many years to come.

Above, in flower during the month of May, is Scotland’s native primrose which I grew from seed two years ago. You can see that it is happy to self seed freely. The leaves almost die away completely but up it comes lush and ready for flower again. I wait until the seedlings are strong enough then lift and transplant them to other areas. I do love our native plants, perhaps because they remind me of my woodland walks as a child, when wild flowers were in abundance. I so enjoy the month of May and early June.

The Queen of my jungle is most definitely the Meconopsis below! They rise above the new growth of my Bowles Golden sedge grass so regally. This plant is another Scottish favourite often found in shady spots in woodland gardens. They are, to me, quite exquisit. My varieties do not set seed, but the upside to that is that I perhaps get stronger plants with good quality flowers.

Candelabra primulas, shown above, grow well beside meconopsis. They are also often seen planted along the edges of streams. They thrive in damp and shady conditions but still enjoy some sunshine. They can be propagated by root cuttings and the time is about right now, in December. I plan to try this this soon before the soil gets too cold and hard. I plan to lift one plant, wash away the soil then trim some roots and lay them into a tray of compost. I will then put one tray in my unheated greenhouse and leave another tray outside to see if I can successfully root some. I do enjoy experimenting with cuttings – often having no space to plant all my new plants! I usually give extras away to friends and family – it’s the challenge I enjoy.

My front garden has little shade and gets baked in the summer sun. I have a mulch of quartz gravel here to keep my plants from drying out, and as this gravel is light in colour, it reflects the heat back a little. So this area is a little bit trickier to move my plants around – but I always get round it! As plants grow and shapes change – I always find something needs a tweak or a revamp. Now that’s the fun part – I so enjoy rearraging planting schemes. Some areas are changed after only a few months. I will just go out one day with the intention of a bit of light prunning – and what a difference a couple of hours can make! The shape and form of plants, for me, often come above the flower and its colour. The two pics, above, of the globe of Alliums are a strong favourite of mine – they have both form and colour.

In September long after the purple colour leaves my alliums, leaving only a dry skeleton ball, a new shade of purple and a quite different form replaces it! Next through my copper tinted grasses rise the, now popular, Verbena Bonariensis. These plants are home grown from bought seed – although now in December they too are dry skeltons. I plan to cut and store some stems to collect seeds from them, maybe it is too late. I have already lifted a few of these plants and will overwinter them in my greenhouse to safeguard against any winter losses. I will try and take cuttings from them in the spring once side shoots get bigger. This is a tall plant that can reach 1.5m, becoming more branched as it grows with tiny clusters of tiny purple flowers which ‘bob’ about in the wind. It is often called the see-through plant. Garden designers love this plant, as do the butterflies and bees.

Japanese Anemone, shown below, ends the list for this year. They are such a refreshing flower during September and into October. I am delighted that my propagation methods worked and that I have increased my stock. I have not increased my flower numbers yet, but this will come. The young plants are firstly producing more leaf but some did give a flower. Japanese Anemones do colonise with time but as I didn’t necessarily want large groups where the original plant is, I decided to intervene. So, as I noticed young plants beginning to form at the base of the parent plant I carefully moved the soil back and dug out these new plants. I initially potted them up and kept them in my unheated greenhouse. They were planted out in late spring. I will definitely use this method this year, very soon before the soil gets too hard. I also picked up a dried out, half-dead Anemone Whirlwind last year which was reduced in price at my local garden centre – I managed to successfully produce new plants of that by root cuttings. I have to mention here that I have moved anemones in the past, and tried to divide them, but lost them every time!

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