AS FEATURED IN THE EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES
When is a problem not a problem? When it’s an opportunity. Bear with me.
It’s easy to end up with a portfolio of plants, your tried and trusted favourites, and never try anything new. Then something puts a spanner in the works and you have to explore further into the horticultural world.
For example, my approach to planting borders could be summed up as: “If in doubt, stick in a Geranium.”(And by Geranium, I mean the perennial, not the summer bedding plant that was reclassified as Pelargonium in the 18th century, a change that has caught on as well with the British public as the metric system). But then bunnies invaded and I had to start looking for less appetising options, including herbs, Nepetas, Alchemillas, Brunneras, Salvias and Sedums.
To help our customers enter their brave new worlds we have an ever-expanding collection of plant lists for (nearly) every occasion hanging up in Shophouse and on our website, www.katiesgarden.co.uk. These cover everything from ‘windy and exposed sites’ - for the people of Felixstowe who insist it doesn’t have a coastal climate - to ‘climbers for north walls’.
The question staff get asked most - apart from: “Are you Katie?” which I suspect is unique to our nursery - is for plants that will grow in shade, so we went a step further and put up a whole tunnel dedicated to them.
Some of our customers have a Venn diagram of problems (sorry, opportunities). “We need something for dry, sandy soil,” said the couple. “No problem,” I said. It’s very common in our part of Suffolk, as we well know from recent planting jobs at Ipswich Hospital and Martlesham Tesco, so we grow plenty of suitable specimens.
“And it’s shady.” I mentally sluiced off anything requiring sunshine. “And deer get in.” I paused, then headed back to get the advice sheets.
Slugageddon is the headline story this year. The solution? Try an English country garden. Among the plants they usually bypass are Roses, Peonies, Lavenders, Garden Pinks, Geraniums (Pelargoniums too!) and all types of Fuchsias, from trailing and upright varieties for tubs and baskets, hardy bushes and the show-stopping climbing Fuchsia Lady Boothby.
If you prefer a more contemporary look, all grasses, ferns and Heucheras should escape their attention too.
If your problem is not enough colour, modern summer bedding and patio plants flower well into autumn, cater for absolutely all tastes, won’t break the bank and … there’s one for every situation.
Gardening advice by Catherine McMillan
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