Purple Wellies

One woman's musings of plant lust for intoxicating blooms

Common pitfalls of gardening

There are many pitfalls in gardening that many fall into, but one I see time and time again is selection of plants for their flowers over their foliage. How many of you are guilty of this, having fallen in love with a plant in full bloom at the garden centre, brought it home, only to have to cajole and squash it in amongst other spur-of-the-moment purchases as there is no room?

As a self-confessed plantaholic, I’ve made spontaneous buys in the past, but like to think I now know better. When selecting plants for your borders you need to go through a whole list of criteria to ensure it is the right plant and it may surprise you to know that personal tastes actually falls far down the rankings.

Foliage lasts so much longer than flowers. Take Adiantum venustum for instance, this will give you the daintiest of fronds year-round, but being a fern, will not give you a single flower. Sophora prostrata ‘Little Baby’, a medium sized shrub with a zig zag branch structure, equally gives you an excuse to get up close with its minute dark green leaves. Podophyllum versipelle ‘Spotty Dotty’, by contrast, has hand-sized leaves with dark patination, it does have pretty scented flowers but they are well hidden by the foliage and probably best as the aroma is targeted at the flies which pollinate it.

Misjudging the mature size of a plant is another common mistake and no wonder really, when books and plant labels give contradictory sizes. Some of this discrepancy will be dictated by suitability of the site and the amount of fertility of the soil. Shoe-horning in yet another plant in an already packed-to-the-gunnels border is never going to show it off to its best as they will compete for water, food and light.

Poor performance after planting can be disappointing. Chances are the garden centre pumped it full of food like it was going out of fashion and the likelihood is when entering your garden, it’ll be put on a crash diet. Plants need time to settle into their new surroundings. Never expect to get much performance from a plant in its first year, others may need up to five years, but all the while, don’t underestimate what is going on below ground, good root development will help overcome drought. Watering is critical in the first season, or for more difficult areas, like dry-shade, for the first three years.

2020 sees some new plants making an appearance. Clematis ‘Little Lemons’ looks promising, a pint-sized miniature of Clematis tangutica. At just 50cm this could work in a hanging basket. As a fan of Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’, I’ll be interested to see how two new varieties perform reclassified as Betony officinalis ‘Summer Romance’ and ‘Summer Crush’.
Posted: 18/03/2020 22:02:33 by Global Administrator