It’s planting time! This has to be the busiest time of year in the garden what with spring-flowering plants to be removed to make way for those that will supply the summer colour and those people with a greenhouse will probably be tending to tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
Where there is a lawn, well, what with rising temperatures and showery weather the grass is growing well and requiring regular cutting.
Sales of summer bedding plants is a mult-million pound business as garden colour and kerb appeal can be obtained for modest outlay and enjoyable rewards. Even a few containers around the house or patio, suitably planted up, can give a profusion of colour all summer.
There is quite a range of plants on offer and for most people it is a matter of personal choice, but in saying that, it is widely accepted that begonias are ‘the’ bedding plant for bold summer colour.
All begonias do best in a humus-rich soil, so any of the multi-purpose composts are suitable; though they prefer partial shade, this is not essential for a superb show; and the other requirements are watering in dry sunny weather (but not overwatered) and feeding. Give them what they like and flower power is assured.
For containers, there are three types of begonias: semperflorens, NonStop and trailing. The fibrons-rooted semperflorens type have clusters of flowers 21/2cms across, coming in pink, white and red (and often sold in a mix of all three colours) and the foliage can be green or a contrasty bronze. Depending on variety (Organdy is a popular one), heights range from 15-30cms and will last all summer long until the first frosts.
For larger, double flowers but still retaining a sturdy habit, then choose the NonStop varieties. As their name implies, this type will bloom continually. A number of years ago the large-headed begonias grew too tall and were confined to the greenhouse but breeders got busy and on to the market came the NonStops in the profusion of colours associated with begonias.
For hanging baskets and window boxes the types to use are sold as either trailing or cascading. They have a medium-sized head and produce a tumbling mass of flowers.