ROOFTOP GARDENING with Julie Clark
Around this time of year I spend time cleaning my boat for the winter. This involves taking down my plant pots and giving the roof a good wash down to remove any abrasive grit and soggy leaves, it will even get a bit of a polish to help repel the rain – my paintwork needs all the help it can get!
Earlier in the year I thought I had found a good material to put under a pot to protect the paint in the form of a piece of plastic shower mat. It was anti slip and had holes which I thought would let the water drain through. Unfortunately, where it made contact with the roof it created micro blistering which only goes to reinforce the importance of keeping the pots elevated.
A trip to any garden centre now will show that planting is far from over for the year, as we throw away one season’s plants it is time to think of the next. There will be an abundance of winter flowering plants and spring bulbs in stock. I always feel a little sad to see polyanthus in the shops so early because to me they represent spring, so I try not to buy these before Christmas. Cyclamen, on the other hand, are essentially an autumn flowering plant and though the bright red and pink flowers we see in pots are a different variety from the delicate wild cyclamen Hederifolium found wild in hedgerows or naturalised in gardens, they are a welcome sight and will provide a brilliant splash of colour for several weeks. Plant cyclamen up in a compost that has a good amount of grit added to it to prevent water logging and try as much as possible to keep water off the leaves to prevent grey mould from setting in and rotting the new buds that will develop from the crown.
October and November are the months to plant up spring bulbs and who can resist even just one pot of daffs? From tiny species of crocus to big fat, blousy parrot tulips, there is every size and colour of flower imaginable in between. The tiny iris reticulata and crocus varieties will flower in February while varieties of tulips, daffodils and narcissi will flower through until May, so, with good planning, you can plant bulbs now that will give you a wonderful display for four months. Plant layers of bulbs in one pot with the later flowering bulbs on the bottom so they grow up through the other layers to give a continual display in one pot. Choose compact varieties for the boat so they don’t get too blown about in the wind.
I am almost looking forward to spring now and we haven’t even had winter yet! Now where is that boat polish..?