Plants for Problem Areas.....
Due to the local soil conditions we are most regularly asked for plants which are suited to growing in heavy, clay soil. This year we have decided to dedicate an area of the garden centre specifically for these plants - so customers are able to look at a selection of plants of various shapes and sizes together. The collection of plants changes throughout the year depending on what is available / looks good. Currently within this collection we have shrubs such as Aronia prunifolia Viking which has wonderful autumn foliage, Physocarpus in golden and purple leaved varieties and dogwoods with variegated leaves and red or golden winter stems. Herbaceous plants make up the bulk of this collection and many have lovely, lush foliage such as the Ligularias, Hostas, Primula and Rodgersia.
We have many trees in stock too which will thrive in these conditions such as Amelanchier, Alder, Populus and specimen sized Sambucus.
We hope by adding this area to the garden centre to inspire people by allowing them to see what a large number of plants will be happy growing in these conditions. Improving the soil by working in plently of organic matter to open up the soil structute is also hugely beneficial and will of course widen the range of plants that can be grown - perhaps allowing the planting of some evergreens too.
We are finding that our customers are increasingly looking for plants which are suitable for planting in containers.
There are a number of reasons for this trend and, with gardens getting smaller and therefore planting space more limited, an attractive planted container makes a delightful gift and is often just the thing to finish off a patio or seating area.
Think carefully about matching the style of the container to both the situation in which it will be placed and also the chosen plant.
Colour is an obvious consideration but one should also think about height of both container and plant, shapes which complement each other and whether it may be necessary to move the container in which case weight is another consideration.
You do not have to be confined to placing one plant in each container - a combination can be very attractive providing interest over a number of seasons especially if plants of varying sizes and textures are used or, try grouping complimentary pots together.
Clipped box in a cone or ball shape or on a stem are ideal for adding a sense of formality, a good alternative would be standard Ilex.
The most important factor to remember is to use the correct compost type for your chosen plants (eg. Ericaceous compost for rhododendrons, pieris, azaleas, camellias and leucothoe etc) and a good quality compost.
Drainage is also important - it is well worth putting a couple of inches of broken crocks or even pieces of polystyrene at the base of your container prior to adding compost.
Feeding is essential for container plants as their roots are in a confined space. For annuals and bedding plants we usually recommend a slow release fertiliser, which can be added to the compost when making up the container or weekly feeding with a good tomato fertiliser, which is high in potash and therefore encourages prolific flowering. Containers planted for the long term should not be forgotten, it is often worthwhile removing the top couple of centimetres of compost and replacing with fresh compost and again adding a plug of slow release fertiliser to last the growing season, some bonemeal or regular feeding with a product such as Maxicrop.
Many of the conifers make especially good container specimens, the golden foliaged types looking striking when planted in one of the many blue glazed pots available.
We also have a good range of patio roses at the moment and some patio climbing roses. Some plants are easier to control in a pot especially if they tend to become invasive eg Bamboo or mint. Hostas are ideal in containers as it is easier to keep them out of the reach of slugs!
Slightly tender plants such as Phormium, Cordyline and palms can be moved to a more sheltered position in the coldest/wettest spells of weather.
Finally, whatever your circumstances, we always have a large selection to suit all styles and budgets.