Head Gardeners' Tips

April 01 2021

APRIL 2021

We’re looking to the future in this April’s tips, with Head Gardener Sallie sharing that now is the time to try something new in your garden!

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The origins of April Fool’s Day is uncertain, but as a time for renewal and rebirth after a cold winter we mark its passing with fun and jollity. To steal two well-known garden writers’ quotes… ‘let’s get ready to rumble’ and ‘why not become a little more feral’ tells you everything you need to know about gardening in April!

In this spirit, let’s celebrate the fool with some innocent teasing and then transfer the celebrations towards the garden. Why not order something crazily inspiring to grow this year? Gardeners, I know, do not need any excuse to go shopping, but I find creating a solid reason placates the soul, if not the bank balance!

Perhaps there is a plant that has remained on the wish list but seemed too dangerous or risky to buy? Perhaps it is something tropical needing that extra bit of care or something potentially too rampant that, for fear of it taking over the garden or next door’s, you didn’t feel brave enough to buy it? I understand, I have them and have tried to grow them, or lost them in some fickle fantasy that they would grow on the west coast of Scotland, but the joy of trying means that I continue to pursue moments of madness only a fellow plantaholic will appreciate! As for the rampant triffids, an energetic bit of pruning can always contain the best of them!

So, as we dust off our lockdown blues and emerge into the world of plant swaps, inspirational garden visits and being amongst each other, what better way is there than to celebrate our gardens together with a spot of exuberant theatrical planting. This year more than ever we have a reason to celebrate the possible, sow those pumpkin seeds, buy that clematis Montana or bougainvillea, and think bigger, blousier and more beautiful! When it works, the sense of fulfilment is unsurpassed!

If you are not sure where to start, here is my tip for creating a collection of plants that will bring pizazz to any sized tub or border, providing joy, scent, and a talking point for you throughout the summer. To seek inspiration, I have turned to our charity colours with added musically inspired colour combinations (take inspiration from wherever you find it!) plus a little contrasting zing for a spot of flamboyance.

I make no excuses for the choices, anything goes, but feel free to adapt as you see fit. Get creative and you will find that colour harmony is not always the way. Be brave add a bold statement plant, that little risk taker of discord colour or form and explore the freedom we have all been craving.

Happy planting! For a spot of ‘cool and green and shady’ with, ‘I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain’ and zingy ‘We’re golden, burn like the stars, Stay golden!’

Probably a bit tenuous, but plant it and just wait and see how you feel inspired!

For pots and planters choose a mix of topsoil and peat free compost mixed with some slow-release fertilizer which will sustain the plants in cramped conditions when watered regularly. If planting up a border add well-rotted manure to maintain soil structure.

Before planting, consider the levels or ultimate heights your plants will create. Tubs allow you to cram in immediate impact; you can do the same in borders, but remember at some point you will need to adjust the spacing as plants outgrow their space. Planting in threes is easier on the eye, but with restricted room in a pot choose one of each from each level and multiply as space allows, concentrating on the lower levels as a priority.

Plant List, most of which we have here in the Horatio’s Garden in Scotland!

• Top level Tall height up to 1m – Salvia Amistad, purple flowers

• Top to Medium level, mid height up to 75cm – Astrantia moulin rouge, paper flowers of deep red

• Medium level up to 60cm – Crocosmia Citronella, luminous yellow flowers

• Medium level up to 50cm Salvia nachtvlinder, tiny flowers of intense deep purple

• Medium level Salvia nemorosa, Caradonna – rich violet blue flowers

• Medium level – Heuchera choose from ‘Berry smoothie’ sugar plum & zingy lime marmalade.

• Low to trailing up to 25cm Verbena x ‘Superbena Burgundy’ plugs purple trailing low /mid intense

• Low to trailing – Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ lamb’s ears low creeping 20cm high with mid-level flower spikes.

• Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ golden creeping jenny (can be invasive)

If you give creating your own flamboyant display a go, I’d love to see it, so please do send in any photos to info@horatiosgarden.org.uk or just tag @horatiosgarden on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – happy planting and Happy Easter!

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We can’t wait to see your stunning, ‘Sallie Sillars’ inspired shows this summer!

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