Zena Robson - A great year for flowering plants

Cosmos such as these have been doing well at the centre

Cosmos such as these have been doing well at the centre

First published in News

My Jasminum x stephanense was fabulous this year – absolutely festooned with pale pink fragrant flowers that wafted their scent in the early morning and late evenings.

It’s finished flowering now and I am going to deal with the monumental amount of growth that it has put on, but not now – that’s a job for spring. It’s a few years old so I shall take out one of the oldest stems to the ground.

Be aware that when dealing with climbers such as these, it’s a good idea to cut out at the bottom and then pull hard, keeping your eyes shut and your head down!

Something else that flowered really well is the Trachelospermum. I have two of them – an asiaticum and a jasminoides. The asiaticum is slightly tougher, having smaller leaves, and it has resolutely refused to flower for the six years it’s been in place.

I didn’t worry about that as it has done a fine job of evergreen screening on a trellis and providing lovely red tints as the temperature drops in autumn.

But this year it flowered, proof positive that patience is its own reward!

Trachelospermum are hardy down to -10C but be warned – I don’t consider them to actually be all that tough and young plants can be walloped good and proper.

They also take their own sweet time to get going but are worth the wait.

The other thing that has done really well this year is the Agapanthus that I have in a pot. It’s a tall mid-blue one and reminds me of Cornwall! Last year it sulked and did no flowering at all, but this year I fed it to give it some encouragement and was rewarded with eight stems, each adorned with a giant flowerhead.

I find they do better in pots although if you were gardening on a free-draining light soil, they would cope well in the ground.

People have commented on the giant pots of cosmos that we have outside the front door at the garden centre. They have grown into whoppers and are truly fabulous. I grew these from seeds of ‘Sensation Mixed’, ‘Picotee’ and ‘Purity’. They all reach between 3-4ft. Once I had pricked them out into individual pots and grown them on, I then whacked three into two-litre pots to grow on in the polytunnels.

When they were a decent size, out they went, planted into a multi-purpose compost. They require watering twice a day in the heat and dead-heading every day to maintain the display.

I have some in big pots at home as well, but I mixed them in with purple Cleome and the newly tried from seed, Ridolfia. This last looks a bit like the flowers of Dill and is the most vibrant citrus green/yellow. The seeds were minuscule and pricking out a nightmare, so in the end I clumped them when I potted them on.

The tomatoes have gone berserk as well. They grew like topsy and I ended up having to remove a few stems and lots of leaves to reveal the ripening fruits to the sun. Must be the weather, I guess!

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