August Gardening Newsletter

August 5, 2018

 

This month I have put together a list of plants that I have met on my travels. Those included on the list not only look great but happily survived the drought conditions we have seen over the past month.

 

The plants suggested offer a nice combination of colour and texture which is sure to be a conversation starter whenever gardening buddies come to visit.

 

Cape Figwort Phygelius aequalis 

 

 

I am particularly fond of the cape figwort sometimes referred to as the cape fuchsia due to its similar flowers although unrelated.

 

This semi-evergreen shrub grows comfortably in a sheltered, sunny spot and can reach up to 1m in height.

 

With its pale yellow flowers, the cape figwort happily sets the tone for a fresh palette over the summer period when the more brash colours of the season can overwhelm.

 

 

Yucca Yucca filamentosa

 

 

During a recent visit to the TCD Botanic Garden, I stumbled upon a striking Yucca which was basking in the glorious sun and had put on the most fabulous display of creamy, elegant flowers.

 

These attractive blooms are native to the Americas and the petals are traditionally eaten blanched and added to scrambled eggs with tomato, onion and pepper.  

 

Balloon Flower Platycodon grandiflorus

 

The balloon flower may seem familiar as it is a member of the Campanulaceae family, sharing similar traits to the distinctive bell-shaped flowers of the Campanula. Native to East Asia i.e. China, Korea and Japan, this herbaceous perennial sits very comfortably in our climate, typically coming into its own at the end of July and into August. Relatively low-growing, this pretty blossom comes in pinks, purples and whites to add interest to the front of your borders, standing at 50cm tall.

 

 Daylily Hemerocallis

 

 

 

The daylily, so-called as its flowers typically only last for a day is a wonderful addition to the herbaceous border with its attractive blooms on show from as early as May right through to August.

 

Incredibly easy to propagate through division, the daylily is a great flowering perennial for this time of year.  

 

African Lily Agapanthus

 

 

Many of you are sure to have admired the wonderful display Agapanthus are currently putting on this summer with their distinctive mops of catchy blue flowers stood tall upon fresh green stems and often reaching over a metre in height.

 

Native to South Africa, it is no wonder that they felt at home when the temperatures rose over last month. Another must have for the centre of the herbaceous border and relatively easy to propagate through division but do not be tempted to do it too often as they flower best when growing in congested conditions.  

 

St. John’s Wort Hypericum

 

 

 

St. John’s Wort is one of those reliable shrubs that will give a steady supply of yellow flowers throughout the summer. I am always fascinated by the etymology of plant names and am not disappointed by the origins of the name Hypericum which is derived from the Greek meaning “Above pictures” as it was traditionally hung above a shrine to ward off evil spirits. 

 

Popular among bees, despite it distinct lack of nectar, Hypericum is probably better known for its beneficial properties in treating depression and sleep problems.

 

Society Garlic Tulbhagia violaceae

 

 

Sometimes also referred to as pink agapanthus but unrelated, the society garlic is a hard-working perennial which flowers for months on end, producing copious amounts of lilac flowers with a distinctive aroma sure to tease even the weakest olfactory receptors.
 

A member of the onion family, this garden gem simply thrives in hot, dry conditions.

 

 

Snap Dragons Antirrhinum

 

 

These robust little annuals amaze me how they can self-seed and germinate in the slimmest crack of pavement or in the pointing of a wall but this simply makes all the more sense when you learn they are native to rocky outcrops so are born to not just survive but thrive in extreme conditions where others would undoubtedly fail.

 

Easy to grow from seed, you will often see them in summer displays but the nectar can be somewhat tricky for potential pollinators such as the bumble bee to access. In order to reach their sweet reward, they simply bore a little hole at the base of the flower tube and access the nectar from there. This in turn allows entry for the smaller honey bee who would usually forgo using the energy necessary to open the intricate flower structure for their sweet liquid treat.

 

Spiny Bears Breeches Acanthus spinosus

 

 

These striking perennials add an air of elegance to any border with their statuesque spikes of white flowers replete with purple bracts which are present in the summer.

 

Native to the Mediterranean, these handsome perennials are well suited to the dry conditions this unusual summer has delivered.

 

Not to be confused with its equally elegant relative Acanthus mollis, beware of this vigorous cousin as it likes to spread itself around so can fill up an empty gap in the border before you know it.

 

These are just a snippet of what is looking good and are all relatively easy to pick up in your local garden centre or order online.

 

Other interesting things I have noticed on my travels are that the native trees such as rowan and birch have already prepared themselves for the next season with a huge proportion of rowan already covered in bright, red jewels of fruit and birch trees dropping their leaves in response to the extreme temperatures. I am also looking forward to an early blackberry picking foray as the brambles are already covered in the plump black jewels ready for harvest.

 

There is still plenty of time to get out there and visit gardens which I am hoping to do over the next month. I hope you are all enjoying this glorious summer as much as I am and please do feel free to get in touch and recommend places for me to visit and include in future newsletters.

 

One last thing, bookings are now open for my gardening courses starting this October at the TCD Botanic Garden so do get in touch on 086 393 8467 or proctoh@tcd.ie for further details.

 

As always, Happy Gardening!

 

Hazel x

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