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July 2011

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Harsh dry weather, Peruvian lilies and robust rugosa roses

This has been a difficult year for plants - starting with the long cold winter and its record low temperatures, followed by an unusually hot dry April, and then a month of stormy cold weather in May. Although we had some rain along with the gales, it was minimal in the West and dried up swiftly by the dry northerly wind. The plants then faced into warm dry weather in June with the water table still low. The weather pattern seems to be changing dramatically and, as gardeners, we will just have to adapt as quickly as possible. 


If we are going to have warmer drier summers I shall install a pump in the stream to get water for my moisture-loving plants when necessary. I lost two more mature trees in May, one from the wind, and the other, a large eucalyptus, had to be removed by the ESB, as it was a hazard to the high density wires .The poplar that was uprooted was at the edge of the stream and dislodged an amount of soil and rock when it fell . This has widened the bottleneck of the stream at that particular point, so may help to prevent flash flooding in the future. It is important to see the positive side rather than to dwell on the negative!

This month is my relaxing month when I can really enjoy the garden. I always have a large number of visitors in May and June so by now the weeds are under control, and most of the staking that is required had to be done earlier than usual because of the May storms. I usually trim hedges in July, but I now have only one short stretch of beech hedging to cut, having removed the escallonia hedge, which is a great boon.

The alstroemeria lilies are outstanding at the moment, both for colour impact in the garden and as cut flowers. Although they are from Peru, the ones that were planted in the ground survived - 17° Celsius, but I lost those that were in containers. The new varieties have a much longer flowering period than the Ligtu Hybrids, and I am trying to build up a range of colours.

I have put in a number of new plants to fill the gaps left by the severe winter and these are beginning to make their mark. Climbing roses and clematis are now growing through the myrtle trunks that I had left hoping that they might regenerate. The cistus and hebes that died in Harry's Garden have been replaced by potentillas and a new introduction of roses from the Rugosa family. These are compact ground cover roses with scented pink double flowers and red hips in autumn, called ‘Admiration' and ‘Passion'. The Rugosa roses thrive in the climate of the West as they do not mind wind and rain and they are very disease-resistant. The hypericums in this area have all sprouted again from ground level, so by next year the area of the garden should be well covered again and most probably better off for the enforced changes.


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