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Summer Colour With Eugene Higgins

Monday, 30 April 2007


Landscaping legend Eugene Higgins has the perfect plants and shrubs for your garden this summer.

Mimulus €2.95 for 6 (these are summer bedding plants)
A very bright flowering annual that is shade loving and early blooming. It is sometimes called "monkey flower" from its spotted, funnel shaped flowers said to resemble the grinning face of a monkey. A colourful, easy to grow addition to those hard to landscape shady areas. Ideally, you should start seeds indoors in pots 6 to 8 weeks before last frost, do not cover seed. Press into soil and water carefully by misting. Seed can also be sown directly outdoors after last expected frost. Transplant indoor started seedlings to 8 inches apart after danger of frost has passed. Keep rich soil fairly moist. It can also be grown indoors as a house plant or repotted prior to frost and brought inside. Do not let plants dry out. A great choice for containers. Indoor started seed will bloom very early combining well with pansies and primroses.

New Guinea Busy Lizzies €4.95 each (also known as Impatiens)
Impatiens, busy lizzie or patience, is an annual flower with nonstop blossoms in many colors. It has a tidy, mounding form and self-cleaning flowers that make it an ideal low-maintenance plant. Flowers are white, pink, rose, orange, scarlet, burgundy, and violet, with many bicolored variants. Sow seeds 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost date. Germination takes 10 to 20 days at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a sterile soil mix, because young impatiens seedlings are subject to damping off. A fungicide is recommended. Cuttings root in 10 to 14 days. Impatiens will grow in any average soil and prefers dappled shade. It requires lots of moisture and fertilizer to bloom well. In deep shade, bloom diminishes.

Geranium €4.95 each
Annual geraniums are popular for their wide range of brilliant flower color and attractive leaves. They can be grown as bedding plants and in containers on decks and patios, in hanging baskets, or in window boxes. There is great variation in leaf, flower and growth habit of geraniums. Geraniums need at least four hours a day of direct sunlight in order to flourish and flower well. Plant geraniums outdoors after all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed. Water abundantly after planting, and continue to water regularly, allowing the soil to dry out between watering. Never allow the plants to wilt or the leaves will turn yellow and drop off. Keep water off the foliage because moist foliage favors the development of disease. Mulch the bed to maintain moisture levels and keep the soil cooler in summer.

Soil for geraniums should be well-drained. Geraniums respond well to fertilizer and are stunted and yellowed if not provided enough nitrogen. Mix the fertilizer into the soil well. Take dead flowers off the plant to prolong flowering. Pinch to encourage well-branched, full plants.When growing geraniums in containers, choose large pots to hold enough soil for a good root system, and to contain enough water to prevent wilting. Repot into larger containers if they grow so large that they wilt frequently. Select containers with adequate drainage holes, plant in a well-drained soil mix and do not allow pots to sit in water.

Osteospermum €4.95 each (Cape Daisy)
Osteospermums are relatively new to most gardeners, and were almost unheard of 25 years ago. They have risen in popularity in the last decade as they have become more commercially available. Osteospermums have now become very popular as summer bedding plants, either to put in the border or in pots. Osteospermums need a sunny aspect, so always plant in a sunny border. They also thrive in a pot on a sunny patio. Water regularly to avoid the plants from drying out. Keep well watered, especially the first two weeks after planting. For best results, feed your Osteospermums on a weekly basis with a general fertilizer such as phostrogen. This will help promote flowering. Remove wilted flowers on a regular basis which will prolong flowering. It is alright to take off part of the flower stem to tidy up the plant. Cutting back Osteospermums won't harm them. On the contrary. They will grow new fresh side shoots in no time.

Nemesia €4.95  each
Nemesias have very dainty flowers that look good in containers. They grow as attractive blocks of colour at the edge of window pots, baskets and in borders. There are plenty of colour choices, so they are useful aides to garden design. The usual colour for nemesias is blue, but there are several varieties from which to choose, including white, lavender, yellow, purple and red, often with two or three colours in the same petals. Belonging to the foxglove family they have flowers that are attractive to some insects. If you want lots more flowers, then pinch out lead shoots regularly and wait for the side shoots to flower. Nemesias can be grown from seed, or cuttings can be made in late summer. They like damp and sunny conditions, simulating their natural coastal habitat from South Africa.

Bacopa €4.95 each
The Bacopa is an instant hit with gardeners with beautiful white flowers. Sutera hybrids are incredibly vigorous and versatile. Its "living carpet" growth is unbeatable for filling those inevitable bare spots and spicing up small pots. Keep the plants well watered in the heat of the summer to encourage bud development. This plant can also be a perennial in warmer zones.

Exochorda €9.50 (The Bride)
There are several Exochorda species, all very beautiful Chinese shrubs when in flower. They need some shelter from late spring frosts, which can scorch the young foliage, and most cannot tolerate a lot of lime in the soil. This plant is a garden hybrid between two of the best species, and is usually grown in the form 'The Bride', a more compact and shapely plant than the hybrid. They are deciduous shrubs growing to 2-4 m tall. The leaves are paddle-shaped oval, 3-9 cm long, with an entire or bluntly serrated margin. The flowers are white, with five petals, produced in spring on the ends of the branches. The fruit is a dry follicle which splits apart to release the flattened seeds.

Scabiosa €8.95 (Perennial)
Cornflower like flowers. The name Scabiosa is derived from scabies, itch; in regard to the plant's supposed properties of curing irritation of the skin. These plants have upright growth, 2 to 3 feet in height. Their leaves are coarsely toothed, growing up to 4 inches long. They grow mostly at the base of the plant. The fragrant flowers are 2 to 3 inches across and are domed with stamens, resembling miniature pincushions. They come in reddish purple, pink, salmon, rose, or violet blue. Picking off the dead flowers increases bloom. These plants will do best in deep, rich soil. On soil that is heavy, they are likely to die during the winter.

All of the above are summer/house plants that can grow outside.

For More Information:
Eugene's gardening set has been supplied with thanks to Blackbanks gardening centre.

All plants featured today are widely available:
Mimulus €2.95 for 6
New Guinea Busy Lizzies - €4.95 each
Geranium - €4.95 each
Osteospermum - €4.95 each
Nemesia - €4.95 each
Bacopa - €4.95 each
Exochorda (The Bride) - €9.50 each
Scabiosa - €8.95 each


Eugene has the perfect summer colour for your garden!