Pick of the bunch will give your garden some welcome ‘petal power’

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Spring flowers have given colour for many weeks and some, but not all, will continue so for many more. Some are better value than others, lasting well until having to be removed to make way for summer flowers.

As well as displays in gardens around the town, those areas attended by Scottish Borders Council have brightened up the grey auld toon and it can now be seen which plants provide the longest flowering period – it’s polyanthus.

The spectacular bed at the Mart Street/Weensland Road roundabout is planted up with bellis perennis, better known as the double daisy and is far from finished. At the Sandbed roundabout three spring subjects are used and now it can be seen which of them have still some life in them yet: the beds of double daisies and myosotis (forget-me-nots), whereas the polyanthus are finished. So for an extended flowering period, polyanthus is not the best, though have given a fine spring display.

Once removed, the polyanthus can be split up and replanted elsewhere (some spare ground or vegetable patch) for use next season, and the same applies to the double daisies. The forget-me-nots on the other hand are discarded and, actually, most gardeners also do the same with the other two, with all three biennials being raised from seed, bought as plug plants or mature plants for each new season.

Another plant which has been adding colour to rockeries is the ‘winter-flowering’ heather, Erica carnea. This comes into bloom early on in the year and lasts until May. Now that the flowers have faded, it is best to trim lightly now, ensuring not to cut into old wood and this will keep the plant compact and of tidy appearance, as this gr0und-covering specimen can quickly get leggy if left untouched.

Pieris have flowered particularly well this spring. Because of a lack of any late frosts the clusters of white lily-of-the-valley-like flowers were smothering this evergreen and now comes the bonus – its fiery-red young growth. Pruning of this slow-growing shrub is not necessary, its only requirement is acid soil, so if it grows well in your garden so will rhododendrons and vice versa.

Camellias are not common in this area but with the winter just experienced, those that are around have flowered well as the buds were not damaged by severe frosts. Here they are best planted in a sheltered position such as among other shrubs or with the protection of a wall or hedge. The only pruning needed now is the removal of any damaged shoots. This is another shrub that requires acid soil.