Garden Feature

Gardens a-go-go!

Lucy Baker-Kind gets the low-down on how to make your summer garden a show-stopper!

Lucy Baker-Kind
26 February 2018

Now is the time to start planting in your garden to get ready for summer. Graham Algar, owner of GMA Landscaping in Dowland, has the best advice for achieving beautiful surroundings. His tip for creating a show-stopping summer garden is not perhaps the most exciting part, but it is essential – preparation.

Dig over the ground so it's not compacted, and incorporate some grit for drainage, especially if it is wet ground. Add some organic matter (home-made compost, well-rotted manure or similar), as: "plants need food to flower well," Graham explains. Mound the planting area slightly above the surrounding ground, as: "plants don't like their feet to be in wet ground as they can suffocate with too much moisture," he adds.

For a small summer garden that needs to deliver big on blooms, Graham recommends Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), which is a vibrant orange/yellow member of the daisy family, and Sisyrinchium Striatum 'Aunt May', with its sword-shaped leaves and clusters of delicate yellow flowers. "Sanvitalia (Creeping Zinnia) and Rudbeckia are best in beds, whereas Verbena is good in pots," advises Graham.

For those that like a riot of colour throughout the warm months, Graham suggests Thunbergia alata (Black-Eyed Susan), a herbaceous perennial climbing plant that provides masses of orange and yellow heads. It's always a pleasure to sit and breathe in a delicate floral scent, and Philadelphus (Mock Orange) gets Graham's vote as the one to plant if fragrance is required. For a large plot that needs a lot of coverage, Viburnums are a wise choice, as they are versatile, large in stature and produce glorious white floral displays.

To ensure your plants stay in peak condition, a certain amount of care and attention should be lavished on them. "Make sure the right plants are in the right place when it comes to chosen position and preferred conditions, water regularly, and dead-head daily," advises Graham.

A low-maintenance garden would benefit from Limonium (Sea Lavender), as it can thrive in most conditions, including in windy, coastal locations. There is no excuse for not having a flash of colour in the smallest plot or balcony: "Thymus (Thyme) and Lithospermum Diffusum (Heavenly Blue) both work well in either a small patch of ground or a pot," says Graham.

For those wanting a planter to fill with your chosen blooms, look no further than Haleywood Outdoor Wooden Furniture in Dawlish, which has a range of planters crafted from high-quality wood. Available to commission in any size, including extra deep troughs for vegetables, they are created from pressure-treated softwood, including redwood or thick pine, treated with Tanalith E preservative, and have a slatted base for drainage. They are supplied in their natural state, so you can apply a woodstain of your colour choice. It is recommended to stain the planter annually, to maximise its lifespan.

"Plants need food to flower well"
Graham Algar, owner of GMA Landscaping in Dowland

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