AS FEATURED IN THE EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES
If your borders are short on flowers right now, it is probably for one of two reasons: either you garden like my mother and assume anything that hasn’t sprung back to life by March 1st must be dead and hike it out.
Or, you garden like me, and cram so much in that when the summer and autumn perennials do try to pop their heads up above the soil – which can be as late as May or June – they find themselves instantly smothered by all the plants that woke from their winter slumbers rather earlier.
Simple solutions to both: a bit of patience for the former; clear marking for the latter so you keep the space clear.
With their long-term futures secured, you can get to the good part - choosing your plants.
There are a plethora of perennials, shrubs, climbers and grasses to brighten the summer months, including several that you might think you don’t like … but that’s just because you haven’t met the right variety for you.
Cases in point are the single Dahlias, whose simple daisy-like flowers convert many a sceptic at Katie’s Garden. Flowering all the way through from June to the first frosts and available in so many colours, Dahlias are pretty unbeatable at this time of year.
Also earning spots near the top of anyone’s shopping list are the hugely varied Salvias, Penstemon, Fuchsias, Crocosmia, Gaura (Whirling Butterfly), Coneflowers, Heleniums, African Lilies, Verbena bonariensis, Rudbeckias, Abelia shrubs and Hydrangeas.
For scent, look at Buddleias, Jasmines and Honeysuckles.
The third step to ensure an abundance of flowers is to get scissor happy.
It’s tempting to think the tattered remains of last month’s flowers are better than nothing. They’re not. Chop them off and in no time at all you should have lots of fresh regrowth and – depending on variety – fresh flowers too.
The sooner you do this the better.
Lately it feels like I have been spending most of my time at our nurseries in Newbourne and Monks Eleigh dispensing bespoke pruning advice to customers, but there are some broad rules.
The likes of Geraniums, Lupins, Delphiniums, Campanulas, Catmints and Verbascums can be cut down to just a few inches (leaves and all) for best results.
Trim off old flowers from evergreen shrubs such as Hebes, Ceanothus (California Lilac), Cistus (Rock Rose) and Lavender, as well as from Buddleias, Potentillas, Spiraeas and Roses and all are likely to reward you with new blooms.
Gardening advice by Catherine McMillan
Order your copy of Gardening for the Uncommitted: What You Really Need to Know, When You Don't Really Want to Know: available from Amazon.co.uk on paperback, eBook and KindleUnlimited. Don't forget to leave a review!