Sum­mer bed­ding so colour­ful


GAR­DEN cen­tres are joy­ous places in June. Full of life and full of colour. Nowhere is more colour­ful than the bed­ding plant ar­eas. Even the tini­est plants seem des­per­ate to dis­play a flower. June is prob­a­bly the best month to plant bed­ding in your pots, bas­kets, troughs and even, al­though now some­what un­fash­ion­able into the soil in your bor­ders. May quite fre­quently serves up some quite rough days. Cold , wind and heavy rain are all a haz­ard to small del­i­cate poly­tun­nel grown bed­ding.

These days plants are rarely hard­ened off by nurs­eries, it just isn’t fi­nan­cially vi­able. Hard­en­ing off is a term that means to ex­pose a plant to out­side con­di­tions dur­ing the day for a week or so but then tak­ing them back un­der cover at night. This may be nec­ces­sary in May but by June you are safe to plant straight out into your cho­sen lo­ca­tion.

For that rea­son I never plant out any bed­ding, an­nu­als or woody peren­ni­als like Fuch­sia and Agryran­ther­mum [ Mar­guerite daisy] un­til June. The para­dox to this is that come Novem­ber or some­times right through the win­ter some of these so called bed­ding plants sur­vive and con­tinue to flower in our cli­mate. This is how­ever be­cause they are hard­ened grad­u­ally to the cold rather than be­ing plonked straight out into it.

The ar­ray of bed­ding plant va­ri­eties to­day if stag­ger­ing. The old favourites like Lo­belia, Bizzie Lizzie and marigolds are still sell­ing well along side an ever in­creas­ing se­lec­tion of pa­tio plants. Ba­copa white and pink, Bi­dens yel­low, Lau­ren­tia blue and ev­ery colour of Mar­guerite daisy red, pink, yel­low, and white, sin­gle, semi and dou­ble flow­ered.

Sum­mer bed­ding al­lows you to run riot with hot colours and colour clashes. I per­son­ally like only cool pure white in pots and bas­kets but there is some­thing en­dear­ing about hav­ing your senses shocked by or­anges, pur­ples, yel­lows and flame reds all in the same scheme. Don’t let any­one in­clud­ing my­self tell you you have got it wrong. If it’s work­ing for you then that is enough, oth­ers can di­vert their eyes if they so wish. In fact I think sum­mer bed­ding is the best way to use these colour­ful shock tac­tics, they look bet­ter in a small con­densed area rather than through­out a whole bor­der say. If all this is get­ting a lit­tle heated for you then add a lit­tle white here and there to cool things down a bit.

What ever your pref­er­ence colour wise all plants that have a long flow­er­ing sea­son and are also fast grow­ing, like bed­ding plants, are also hun­gry feed­ers. Most com­posts will only feed a plant for three to four weeks. I usu­ally in­cor­po­rate a hand­ful of grow­more or such like to the com­post be­fore fill­ing pots and bas­kets. Even with this ad­di­tional fer­tiliser I would still rec­om­mend liq­uid feed­ing once a week af­ter three or four weeks.

Reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing is also vi­tal. Early in June wa­ter­ing ev­ery few days may be suf­fi­cient but come mid July you may find that wa­ter­ing once a day is not enough to stop bas­kets and small pots dry­ing out. If you are plant­ing into soil in flower bor­ders dig the soil well and in­cor­po­rate com­post to cre­ate a soft light tilth to al­low the roots of your plants to get quickly es­tab­lish. No plants like com­paction in soil con­di­tions but par­tic­u­larly plants that are in a hurry like bed­ding plants will just shut up shop and sit de­fi­antly re­fus­ing to grow.

Plant­ing sum­mer bed­ding maybe the only lit­tle bit of gar­den­ing some peo­ple do through­out the year, ev­ery­one likes a pot at the front door, and for that rea­son we should re­joice in the hum­ble an­nual and wel­come the one off gar­den­ers to the gar­den party. Whether its psy­che­delic colours you’re af­ter or if like me you like to think you are a lit­tle more so­phis­ti­cated than you re­ally are and want to play with pastilles, go out and have fun with bed­ding plants.


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