7 Ace Plants
Plants with colour, is a major priority for anyone planning or developing a garden, over the last week I have reflected on Plants, Trees and Climbers that can produce some serious colour at different times throughout the year.
Passion Flower is a climber that can really light up a wall with literally hundreds of flowers that are festooned with complex flowers of white vivid purple and bright pink. Passion Flower can make rapid growth each year, as it uses it what is known as tendrils, they look like aerial roots and are very good at clinging on to brickwork or fences to allow them to cover the area efficiently. It starts flowering in mid- Summer and after a warm summer, it is not unusual to find large orange-yellow fruits forming, and these can be left on the plants for decoration. They are edible but do not have an outstanding flavour.
They are in the main easy to grow, so long as one is vigilant during the worst Winter Months, this is because as their roots are prone to rot if the soil is both cold and wet. In the wild passion flowers grow where the ground is exceptionally well drained so it's important to have suitable growing conditions i.e. a free draining soil by its nature Passion Flower requires a Sunny south facing wall once plants it has a better chance of surviving the winter.
In medieval times ginger was brought from the Far East to this part of the world and was an expensive commodity in huge demand. The Ginger flower is not something you here mentioned that often, but some gardens take the same attitude as in medieval times, in relation to its superb flowering abilities. They feel there is nothing to compare to the sight and scent of a mature ginger plant when first seen in flower and its amazing lush foliage.
In the right position and with the proper care, they are remarkably easy plants to grow, being suitable for growing in containers or planting out in the garden. They have flowers that are truly exotic producing an unlikely tropical feel to an Irish Garden the colour in this case is a distinctive dark red off set by exotic soft orange hooded flowers.
“Cautleya Spicta Robusta” is the variety of Ginger to seek out, it’s a mouthful, but it is constantly recommended by a fellow gardener on a relentless basis, as she loves it, so much. Ginger is most at home under trees or between shrubs growing to about 70 cm in size.
Cardinal Flower a member of the Lobelia family ,It is described very accurately as having a stately or regal look, and is a perennial, which produces red flowers that really stand out, from the crowd. The flowers form in tall spires, which if cut back after the flowers have faded, will ensure an excellent display of flowers late in to the season. An exotic-looking plant with purple-tinged foliage the best example is the variety 'Queen Victoria', which has bold reddish-purple leaves, and brilliant red flowers 2.5cm in size sitting gracefully on top of plant. It is quite unlike the “Bedding Lobelia” in appearance but if you look carefully one will notice the individual flowers have a similar shape but are a lot bigger. It can be rather short-lived; with plants usually lasting about three to four years, but the return is well worth the effort to enjoy its “Short But Glorious Life”.
If you want a Tree that flowers and is seriously spectacular then Magnolia 'Leonard Messel' is that very Tree. It is as impressive as it name, but like all things of beauty, one need to be attentive to get the best out of it. In simple terms it is a beautiful small tree or shrub, depending how it is managed height wise, it will reward one with seriously impressive scented lilac-pink star shaped flowers with creamy white/pink centres when in flower from late Spring for about 6 magnificent weeks. Magnolia can be shy about flowering when young, but this variety flowers well, from the off. As Magnolias go 'Leonard Messel' is manageable and will grow to 4 x 3 metres in about 20 years and so is ideal for smaller spaces. Magnolia has a few requirements to perform to its maximum needs, a well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade with a little shelter required out of the way of cold winds. Magnolia enjoys a slightly peaty type soil and this can be remedied by adding, suitable compost which will recreate the conditions it needs, without having to resort to precious peat from the bog and is available in most garden centre.
'Little Carlow' is the most fashionable of the Michaelmas Daisy family at the moment, I can’t resist a daisy in full flower, and will be planting as many as possible of this cheery daisy with its striking lilac-blue petals and yellow centres. It makes an excellent cut flower and will really lift a flower arrangement, with its masses of flowers of smallish bright mid-blue flowers and bright yellow centres. It produces this display from late Summer to mid-Autumn. It deservedly was given the “Award of Garden Merit” by the Royal Horticultural Society. In simple terms it is a plant which forms a strong clump of dark green leaves and grows to 90cm plus .It will mange some shade and will add a splash of colour with style to a late summer border and can cope with coastal windy garden with aplomb.
Finally Parahebe Avalanche is plant that deserves far more recognition, as it possess an indescribable allure, best summed its variety name “Avalanche”. Of recent I have seen it return to the odd garden centre bench, and this development is way overdue, and should be sought out by any gardener who wants an uncomplicated rewarding plant. In simple terms it is an evergreen low growing shrub that produces a heady display of intoxicating white flowers during the Summer months. It is a hardy plant that can cope with any amount of cold weather that Ireland can throw at it. Its leaves are dark green and serrated and it grows with a beautiful low spread. Full sunlight is ideal and it can manage a little shade with moist but well-drained soil; the flowers smother the compact bush, through the summer. It is m. It has a mature height and width of 40 X 40cm and will thrive below tall plants or trees.