The changeover from spring to summer bedding and container displays is well under way and for me, it`s one of several inspirational periods in the gardening year. Imagine, you have just planted something special of your choice for summer colour, there`s an unstated challenge to nurture the plants in question to their full potential.
The same can be said of deepest autumn, when those glorious summer bedding plants run out of steam. The positive approach is to think of springtime as you replace them with polyanthus, myosotis, wallflowers and assorted bulbs.
In both cases there is need for a salvage operation, tidy-up and preparation for the next display. In this respect it`s rather like the approach to, and aftermath of a celebratory event. Anything that can be used again, in this case valuable perennial plants, is saved for the future. The area is then tidied-up and the soil recharged with nutrients for the next crop.
The lady of the house and I have been working on the spring-summer changeover recently. This involved group plantings in borders and containers. It began with the salvage aspect and Polyanthus `Stella Mixed,` a vigorous cultivar that has a good range of colours. These plants are so easily propagated via division that it`s always tempting to keep too many, therefore my selection is based on the amount of vigour and most pleasing colours. We divide each large clump in half and replant close together in a nursery bed until autumn.
All spring flowering bulbs are left in situ here. Past practice was to dig up the tulips, dry them off and store in a cool, dry place until planting time came around again. This was normally a shelf in the garage. But if they`re planted deeply enough and the intention is to have them in the same spot next year, why lift and store? Five group plantings of different varieties have reappeared reliably in this garden for years.
An east-facing bed by the house wall has hosted bluebells, and white, for goodness knows how long, with a surrounding dwarf hedge of Lavender `Hidcote.` They`d always performed well despite the hard, impoverished soil, but when time for change arrived recently, we removed the lavender, decided to keep the bluebells, with additional temporary bedding for summer.
Clearly, the area needed enriching, so light forking to loosen the soil came first. A layer of weathered horse manure was spread, and a dusting of organic blood, fish and bone applied. Topping this off with garden soil set the bed up nicely for summer planting, and the dormant bulbs remain safe below until their next performance.