Best of the bunch



THESE perennial stalwarts are invaluable in the garden as they provide useful ground cover, eye-catching foliage colour and flowers which are a magnet to bees and butterflies. There are many different varieties ranging in leaf colour from copper to purple and silver. The flowers are borne on wiry stems held above the foliage and add an airy touch to plantings. Most of the flowers are pink, red, white or green. They do best in well-drained, fertile soil in a sunny or lightly shaded spot. My favourites include H. 'Licorice', with its almost black leaves and coral flowers, and purple-bronze 'Palace Purple' with white flowers, which is widely available. They don't like sticky, wet clay. If your soil is thin, dig in plenty of organic matter and plant deeply, with only the crown above the ground.


:: Prune early flowering shrubs such as lilac, deutzia and forsythia.

:: Pick over gooseberries in full fruit, removing young green berries for cooking, but leave plenty to mature for dessert.

:: Remove the growing points from early peas which have finished flowering to focus energies on pod production.

:: Liquid-feed gladioli for better blooms.

:: Cut back rock plants after flowering and trim trailing plants in the rock garden.

:: Deadhead roses to encourage repeat flowering unless they are being grown for the colour and profusion of hips.

:: Clip fast-growing established hedges.

:: Canna lilies grown in pots in the greenhouse can be planted outside, providing taller growing features within summer bedding displays.

:: Sow beetroot, sweetcorn and cauliflower for a late harvest.

:: Lift and divide congested clumps of flag iris after flowering.


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