Friday 28th May 2021

The days fly by, and once again it’s Friday Group time

It’s all looking very busy in the greenhouse

Plant ident.

Tagetes patula ‘Linnaeus Burning Embers’

The African Marigold is frequently grown in the vegetable garden as a ‘companion plant’. The idea of companion planting is that communities of plants are grown together for their mutual benefit, either to protect against pests or to improve pollination/growth. This particular half-hardy annual is related to Calendulas, and its scent is known to deter pests; try it next to Tomatoes to ward off an aphid invasion. The mahogany petals are edged with yellow, echoing the centre of the flower. An easy, but very attractive, summer garden resident which makes a good cut flower. Full sun, please.

Hesperis matronalis

Known more widely as Sweet Rocket, this very attractive biennial plant has purple, mauve, lilac or white flowers. A traditional cottage garden plant, it tends to seed itself around and enjoys being either in the sun or part shade. Beautifully scented – and especially so in the evening. Dead-heading will encourage more flowers, but remember to let some go to seed, so that you don’t lose it in the garden. Much easier to let it do all the work! ‘Chedglow’ is a purple-leaved cultivar worth cultivating.

Calendula officinalis

Another cottage garden plant which is easy to grow and a delight to behold, is the English or Pot Marigold – with its distinctive bright orange flowers. A hardy annual, it’s often grown on the vegetable plot as a ‘sacrificial plant’ (sounds biblical). The idea of these ‘trap crops’ is that they will attract pests away from the main crops you want to protect. Aphids and other undesirables head over to the Calendulas/Nasturtiums /Chervil and infest them instead. Terribly barbaric, if you ask me. They also attract pollinating insects. The petals are edible and can be used to add panache to salads; Mrs Next-Door will be well impressed, despite herself. They look great as cut flowers in a summer flower arrangement, If they have managed to survive being eaten by humans or pests, they look great as cut flowers in a summer flower arrangement. There are many cultivars available, of which ‘Neon’, ‘Nova’ and ‘Indian Prince’ are three. Direct sow in a sunny position.


A less well-known half-hardy annual, Gomphrena is from the Amaranthaceae family. Its small spherical flower heads are held on the ends of stems. Good at the front of a dry garden border as it is very drought tolerant, and also combines well with other hot summer annuals such as Zinnias. Easy from seed.

Brachyscome iberidifolia

The Swan River Daisy has long been a popular half-hardy annual for gardens. Originating in Australia it likes well-drained soils, of most types, and full sun. A good choice for hanging baskets or window boxes, as it has a rather lax habit which lends itself very well to informal planting. Flowers profusely over a long period; colour can vary according to the cultivar, but is often blue/mauve. Apparently it doesn’t need to be dead-headed (can this be true?) – but cutting off the flowers now will result in lower, bushier plants.

The Dry Garden

The plan continues to evolve, and Liz described where the project was up to. Very unfortunately, there was unruly behaviour in class and the naughty step was brought into play.

Jobs for the week

There’s such a lot to do in the garden at the moment. So, secateurs at the ready!

Feeding Friday

The feeding season is upon us. Why not be organised and do it on a Friday, every Friday, without fail on a Friday? Dilute, organic seaweed feed is at the top of the Garden House menu. The Pelargoniums need particular care and attention as they grow into their summer lushness, as do the Streptocarpus. (Cape Primroses – not Sore Throats.)

On parade at Pelargonium Palace

Work in the pond

Skim off weeds and algae which have accumulated on the pond’s surface. Throw a bale of barley straw into the water, to prevent the formation of more algae. Adding a black pond dye to the water can show the water feature off to full effect, creating an obsidian mirror which reflects the sky by day and night. Warning: poetry may result.

“You’d never believe it. It was enormous. Massive. Humongous. It got away.”

Remove Tulip bulbs and Primroses

This clears the beds/pots/containers to allow summer plantings of annuals such as Ammi and other frothy loveliness; these will benefit from staking to ensure tip-top outcomes.

The spent Tulip bulbs can be planted in other areas of the garden, or dried and kept until the autumn, when they can be replanted.

Work on the Exotic Bed

Is there a dress code?

Here, the Tulip bulbs are not being removed. Instead they will be left to become a perennial planting scheme, with more bulbs being added each year. Musa, Hedychium, Nasturtiums and annual Dahlias will eventually go in to create a truly tropical vibe. Throw in a few cocktails, shaken, not stirred, and all will be complete.

Enjoy May

For soon. It will be June