Flower Power: Enjoy the summer flowers but start planting autumn bulbs between them for later in the year

News Desk (30 July, 2020)

Cool weather with background humidity are the ideal conditions for plant diseases to thrive

35589Jackie Power

The weather traditionally starts to get hot in July as humidity rises. However, during June temperatures reached a sweltering 33°C then dropped to 21°C at the turn of the month; with cool and showery weather being dominant until mid-July, writes Jackie Power…

Cool weather with background humidity are the ideal conditions for plant diseases to thrive; and so, it is important to check for powdery mildew or sudden leaf die back. If plants are affected try to identify the cause of the problem and take immediate action to stop the spread. Keep plants healthy with regular feeding and watering; take out weeds as often as possible to minimise competition for moisture and nutrients in the soil; and also to ensure there are fewer places where pests and disease can flourish.

Lavender is a feature of the summer garden – flowering in June and July. There are many different types available – one to suit most locations (although it does not like shade) including the dwarf varieties suitable for pots. Lavender flowers come in a range of colours, (depending on the variety) from white, purple, deep blue and pink.

Start planting autumn bulbs (or corms) to ensure there is something of interest later in the year. Even in a small garden there will be space to tuck some Colchicum (Autumn crocus) bulbs into the soil between shrubs and summer flowers. There are other unusual ones to choose such as the tiny fragrant Cyclamen and the Belladonna Lily.

The Evening Primrose (Oenothera) is now in full bloom; it is very different to the low growing woodland primrose; Oenothera can reach a metre or more and needs space and full sun to look its best. It is impressive grown in groups at the back of the border.  Oenothera produces  fragrant pale-yellow flowers in the evening (explaining its common name) and although they only last a day it usually flowers profusely through to September. Evening Primrose oil is widely known as an over the counter remedy – with many claims made for efficacy including helping to ease muscle weakness, useful for skin disorders like eczema and acne; it is also used in cosmetics as a moisturiser for dry skin.

There are several varieties of Evening Primrose available for the garden – ranging in height from eight inches to over thirty-six inches (one metre). The smaller type – Oenothera missouriensis grown in a large terracotta pot with Lemon thyme, dwarf Nasturtiums (‘Tom Thumb’ or ‘Ladybird’) and Alpine strawberries around the edge makes a delightful summer display for a balcony or patio.  Oenothera can be grown from seed or plants are sometimes available from specialist growers and nurseries.

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