Sea Holly, also known as oliver eryngo
I was discussing with a client recently why we plant as we do. Why do we not plant in twos? And why, when picking a border, do we choose what we do? That's a lot of questions, so here goes with some answers.
When it comes to choosing plants, we need to learn to love colour, because the days of the pastel English country garden that looks like a watercolour painting have largely gone.
Try to avoid planting just one of each thing, as this will resemble a pincushion of dots. Far better to plant in threes, fives or sevens - always odd numbers - and avoid forming cloud-like blobs. Make a triangular shape, or a narrow ribbon that looks like it's waving in the wind. This is much more pleasing to the eye.
Embrace orange and lime shades, because they make blue and purple more vibrant, especially in the evening light.
Salvias and delphiniums add splashes of blue and purple and, if contrasted with geums, crocosmia, or even the lime greens of euphorbia or alchemilla mollis, create a pleasing riot of summer colour.
Grasses always add movement and some give a year-long presence. They also unify a scheme when woven through a mixed border.
One of my current favourites is Pennisetum Red Bunny Tails, which is a lovely grass with mounds of bright green foliage and is topped with large bottlebrush-like flowers which open distinctly red, fading through purple shades to beige. It looks stunning teamed with alliums. The clean, minimalist style of this grass makes it a good choice for formal courtyards or in modern urban planters.
At this time of year, the peony is the highlight of the garden. I have both pink and creamy white ones threatening to progress from their tight balls of buds into the most magnificent of flowers. They catch us off guard when they burst into flower as they are fleeting, but so worth it.
My favourite climber is the wonderful evergreen jasmine, which exudes the most stunning fragrance from its tiny but abundant star-like flowers. It is such a dreamy plant, but has a big impact. It brings back memories of holidaying in a little Italian seaside town down near Rome. I walked past garden after garden where this plant had been used to look like a front hedge, and the smell still stays with me.
I have planted this stunner close to where I park the car, so that smell hits me when I get out, especially in the sunshine.
Another favourite is the geranium Johnson's Blue. It has handsome, weed-smothering foliage, but its large blue, saucer-shaped flowers put on a profuse and prolonged summer show. It mingles easily with its neighbours without becoming too boisterous or floppy, and it is resistant to pests and diseases.
I’m also newly converted to the sea holly plant and have had my head turned by Eryngium Blue Glitter. This award-winning variety has most of the features one could hope for in a garden plant for amateurs. A true perennial, it has strong, erect stems that are an ornamentally-attractive silver-blue in colour. These divide and divide again more than once to give innumerable small, shimmering blue pincushions, all in a ready-made flower arrangement. This is a plant to add strength and colour to your border.
Now that I’ve given you some ideas for the garden, there's no excuse for you not to get outdoors. This weather has been just the best - but let’s hope we get a bit of nighttime rain to keep the gardens happy.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.