This month is when the garden is at the peak of growth. The long sunlight hours, warm weather and rain make conditions perfect for the garden to explode. With weeds to control and grass to cut it can be difficult to keep up with nature at this time of year. But while the garden is at full throttle we must exploit this moment, so planting in the flower garden is a top priority. If we get it right, then the display will reward us all the way through to the autumn, and now that many spring plants have finished there are plenty of gaps to fill.
Getting the planting to ‘flow’ is quite important and we can achieve this by repeating groups of plants through the garden. Dahlia magenta star is one such plant, which has always worked so well for us. It is probably the best single dahlia I know, with good purple foliage that isn’t so dark that it looks artificial, but is interesting enough to make a statement. We started these in the green house back in January, so that we could take cuttings. These cuttings have grown on well and are now strong plants in 5l pots and will soon be flowering. This lovely magenta dahlia is brilliant inter-planted with jade green gladioli and should look stunning with the oranges in the late summer from Kniphofia rooperi and Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Colours’.
The little garden, on the south side of the manor offers a confined space where we can try quite different colours. Because it is so sheltered it is the warmest part of the garden allowing us to try things that require a bit more heat. This year we will give a tobacco plant a go, called nicotiana mutabilis. It is a lovely thing, like pink and white ‘fluff’, and if it doesn’t get too cold it will continue flowering deep into the autumn. For a plant like this to work it needs to be with something solid and so we have put it with a pink salvia called S. involucrata bethellii and a giant dahlia called Emory Paul. This monster is also pink and produces some of the biggest flowers of any dahlia, reaching 25cm in diameter. It is quite the opposite to the subtle ‘Magenta Star’ but it can be fun having big plants in a small space and we are looking forward to seeing how it works out.