Author: Janine Winlaw

Garden Talk: Heavenly hydrangea

Hydrangeas are gorgeous shrubs – their great mounds of delicate yet showy flowers often take on pinky hues into autumn and can be dried for winter use too. There are masses of varieties, colours and sizes to choose from. Here’s my pick: Hydrangea Macrophylla H.macrophylla go pink in alkaline and blue in acidic soil. To guarantee colour – go for white. There are two types, mophead, with large, globular heads and lacecap with flattened heads of tiny flowers surrounded by sterile florets. They’re happiest in part shade but can take sun – and like to be kept hydrated. Macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ A flamboyant white mophead becoming pink tinged into autumn– great for lighting up a partly shady border. Macrophylla ‘Westfalen’ A compact cultivar with bright green leaves and large rich purple mophead blooms. Good for smaller gardens. Macrophylla ‘Veitchii’ A small, elegant and hardy lacecap hydrangea with white sterile florets, that turn pink as they age. Macrophylla ‘Rotchwanz’ A more unusual lacecap with deep pink to wine-colored starry flowers and dark green leaves flushed …

Garden Talk: Deep Purple

Deep purple Flowers aren’t the only way of giving your garden colour and interest –plum coloured-foliage adds real drama, depth and contrast. Use in a few key areas with some sun, (it tend to blend into shady spots) to highlight brighter flowers. Here’s my pick of the best: Perennials Heuchera. I’ve recently discovered the appeal of heuchera – they’re easy to grow in sun or shade and their big evergreen leaves and pretty early flower spires provide winter and spring interest. There are lots of purple varieties such as H. ‘Purple Palace’ and H. ‘Obsidian’ but my favourite is ‘Plum Pudding’ with silvery plum veined leaves. They look gorgeously moody with dark blues and stunning with silvers, soft pinks and mauves. Sedum. S. ‘Matrona’ has dark stems, grey purple leaves and in August, large pale pink flowers – a great combination. The gorgeous S. ‘Blue Pearl’ with deep bluey purple leaves and bright pink flowers is fantastic with silver plants such as Stachys byzantina. Other purple-tinged varieties include ‘Jose Aubergine’ and Sedum telephium ‘Purple Emperor’. …

Eight ways to go organic in the garden

It’s easy to panic and reach for a chemical spray at the first sight of greenfly or diseased plants. But there’s a more natural way. Here’s how: Encourage wildlife. Instead of using pesticides that will harm all insects good and bad – lure in the beneficial ones. Ladybirds and hoverfly larvae will eat aphids – they like chives, fennel and cosmos, or invest in a bug hotel. Ground beetles eat slugs. Birds will help keep down snails as will frogs. Try a birdbath, feeder or berries for birds and a little pond for frogs. Keep weeds down naturally. Weeds carry disease, and steal light, water and nutrients from your plants. A thick mulch of bark or well rotten manure will keep them at bay, as will pulling them out as young seedlings. Patrol to keep control. Aphids like the new tender growth of plants like clematis and rose buds, so keep an eye out for them – they can make leaves curl up. Squish them off by hand, or use a strong spritz of water. …

Garden Talk: Clematis crazy

Clematis will cloak your fences in rich colour – and there’s one for every season. Here’s my pick of the best: Spring: Spring flowering clematis tend to have smallish flowers. First up in March are the evergreen C. armandii variety with long dark green leaves and a mass of small, scented flowers. ‘Snowdrift’ is pure white and ‘Apple Blossom’ pink-tinged. From April to May come the delicate bell-shaped flowers of the alpina clematis such as the gorgeous deep blue ‘Frances Rivis’ and pink ‘Constance.’ The multi-petalled C. macropetala varieties are very pretty – exquisite grey-blue ‘Lagoon‘ is a must. Finally, for May there are the vigorous montanas. C. ‘Elizabeth’ has a mass of pale pink flowers while ‘Willsonii’ is a lovely scented white variety. Cultivation: Armandii and alpina are happy in dappled shade –montanas need more warmth. These Group 1 clematis need a tidy up after flowering to remove dead shoots and keep to their allotted space. Armandii can be cut right back after flowering to avoid the leathery leaves taking over. Early summer: If …