Friday 5th June 2020

The exquisite Geranium phaeum

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The Little Dixter corner at G/H was looking exotic, with Abutilons, Ginger, Tetrapanax – but, sadly, technical hitches prevented us from viewing the rest of the garden. (Maybe Garden House has secretly had the whole place covered in tarmac as a low maintenance option.) Undaunted, we shared our Pot Planting Prescriptions; some for sun, some for shade, some in pots, some in window boxes. Their progress over the summer will be interesting.

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We were reminded to consider the following when planting up containers:

a) Aspect Sun? Shade? Choose the right plant for the right location. How will the pot be viewed? It’s a piece of theatre, darling, so think about your audience. Will it be seen from the front? the side? all round? Think also about the size of the planter and its material.

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b) Compost G/H uses multi-purpose compost with grit or perlite, perhaps with some home-made compost mixed in. Some prefer soil-based composts, some like to add well-rotted manure to the base, some add water retaining granules.

c) Drainage is important. Don’t let your containers get waterlogged. Make sure they have drainage holes and use some broken pot pieces to prevent those holes from getting blocked. Pot feet are a good idea too.

d) Feed! Maybe add a little pelleted chicken manure to the compost when filling the pot, and thereafter feed regularly with a diluted liquid seaweed fertiliser. (Monty Don suggests adopting the phrase ‘Feeding Friday’. As opposed to the one we seem to have adopted at our house, ‘Feeding Frenzy’.)

e) Regular dead-heading  Of everything. Encourages and prolongs flowering, like these Felicia amelloides.

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f) Water regularly Consider using upside-down plastic bottles (make a small hole in the lid) filled with water and pressed into the soil. Efficient, effective, economical, everso clever.

Plant ident.

A few drought tolerant plants:

Lotus hirsutus

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A mat-forming shrub with very pretty pale pink flowers in the summer. Beautiful silvery foliage. Needs free-draining gritty soil. Easy from cuttings, which is just as well, because it’s wise to take some in case it freezes/rots to death over the winter. Also, on a topical note, its common name is the Hairy Canary Flower. Obviously unable to get a cut, like the rest of us in lockdown.

Phlomis italica

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This is the Balearic Island Sage. A hardy, evergrey plant growing to around 1.5 m with lilac-pink hooded flowers. Full sun, front of border, drought tolerant. Soft, felted leaves. Excellent seed heads.

Euphorbia seguieriana subsp. niciciana

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A delicate, upright, clump-forming perennial. Fine blue-green leaves. Lovely in a pot in a sunny area. Beware the sap!

And so, we come to The Tasks:

Water. Weed. Worry

Feed plants regularly

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We all love a good feed and grow heartily as a result.  Pelargoniums respond in exactly the same way, and, in fact, will happily enjoy a double strength organic seaweed feed.  Give your summer containers the same treatment – they will love you for it.

Dead heading

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It pays dividends. Do it, and you’ll achieve results like this Rosa ‘Albertine’

Continue to harden off seedlings and plant out. Take cuttings of tender perennials to increase your stock

Make a wigwam for runner beans; plant the beans out and protect from slugs

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Heap big wigwam. Heap big slugs

Plant up your pot/container.

Keep a note of the plants chosen. So far we have these:

Large wooden container with planted olive tree. Pelargonium ‘Pink Capricorn’; Lavendula stoechas (French Lavender); Erigeron karvinskianus. A Mediterranean planting – best enjoyed with an Aperol spritz

The Cobbled Together pot. Nemesia ‘Framboise’; Petunia ‘Surfinia Sky Blue’; Pelargonium ‘Pink Capricorn’; Helichrysum ‘Blue Green’

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The ‘Lockdown’ container. Cephalaria gigantea; Salvia viridis ‘Blue Monday’; white trailing Fuchsia; Viola cornuta ‘Penny Orange Jump Up’

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Terracotta pot in full sun for most of the day.  Pelargonium ‘Terry’s@G/H’; Osteospermum ‘Serenity Blue-Eyed Beauty’; Calibrachoa ‘Can Can Black Cherry’

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Window box in a north facing shady courtyard. Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Nico’; Heuchera ‘Autumn Leaves’; Fuchsia ‘Patricia Hodge’

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Terracotta pot. Salvia farinaceae; Osteospermum ‘Gelato Cranberry’; Saxifrage

A pair of terracotta pots. Fuchsia’Bella’; unnamed Fuchsia; Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’; Gaura lindheimeri ‘Summer Breeze’; Felicia amelloides; trailing Fuchsia

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Trough. Heliotrope ‘Dwarf Marine’; Cerinthe major purpurascens; Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’

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Terracotta pot. Stipa tenuissima; Persicaria microcephela ‘Red Dragon’; Plectranthus purpureus; Pelargonium ‘Pink Capricorn’

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Terracotta pot. Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’;Pelargonium ‘Lord Bute’; Plectranthus argentatus; Helichrysum petiolare ‘Silver’

Large terracotta pot. Rosa ‘Francis E. Lester’; Perovskia atriplicifolia; Lamium

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Vintage animal feeder. Does this mean it fed old animals? Aeonium arboreum ‘Schwartzkopf’; Ophiopogon planiscapus; Geranium pratense ‘Midnight Reiter’; Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’; Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’

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Vintage metal tank. Aeonium ‘Schwartzkopf’ (there’s a theme going on here); Diascia (orange); Dahlia (single, orange); Angelica archangelica; Tagetes ‘Burning Embers’

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Black ceramic planter. Salvia ‘Black and Blue’; Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’; Panicum ‘Frosted Explosion’; Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’

Looking forward to our next Zoom session and a virtual tour of another F/G garden.