Gardening: ‘Tea trees brew up great summer colour’

Phyl Boyce

Reporter:

Phyl Boyce

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The leptospermum (New Zealand tea tree) is in full flower at this time of the year. The common name comes from the use of some leptospermums to make tea. A native of Australia and New Zealand it is grown for its aromatic neat foliage and small profusely borne flowers. The flowers are shallow shaped with 5 white, red or pink petals. The plant grows in a moderately fertile well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. After flowering trim or lightly cut shoots. The plant is tender and will not survive severe frost. Leptospermum ‘Red Damask’ produces double dark red flowers. Leptospermum ‘Silver Sheen’ has silver green leaves and white flowers.

The leptospermum (New Zealand tea tree) is in full flower at this time of the year. The common name comes from the use of some leptospermums to make tea. A native of Australia and New Zealand it is grown for its aromatic neat foliage and small profusely borne flowers. The flowers are shallow shaped with 5 white, red or pink petals. The plant grows in a moderately fertile well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. After flowering trim or lightly cut shoots. The plant is tender and will not survive severe frost. Leptospermum ‘Red Damask’ produces double dark red flowers. Leptospermum ‘Silver Sheen’ has silver green leaves and white flowers.

Argyranthemums produce dainty, daisy like flowers that bloom from late spring to early winter. Even the foliage is beautiful, sometimes resembling smaller versions of chrysanthemums available at flower shops. Argyranthemums, as they are known in Latin, have been in cultivation for more than 200 years with over 80 different types available. They produce flowers in a range of colours like white, rose pink, yellow or apricot. They come from the Canary Islands and Madeira where their native habitat ranges from the seashore through woodland edges and up to the slopes of volcanic mountains. Planting different types of pink flowering argyranthemums together can look very effective whether in the garden or in pots. Tall yellows can be used to back up blue and gold displays including marigolds, deep blue salvia, low growing lobelia or as an under planting for a framework of climbing roses. An autumn combination of yellow argyranthemums mingling with purple and blue michaelmas daisies can look very well.

Argyranthemums are best bought as reasonably well mature plants towards the end of May. These plants can go straight into reasonable well drained garden soil in a warm sunny position. Here the plant will perform beautifully with no attention at all required. Argyranthemums are tender perennials and are well suited for either containers or borders. When there is a slight lull in flowering, trim to remove all the old flower heads and some of the tops of the stems to encourage bushier growth and ultimately produce even more flowers. Argyranthemum foeniculaceum is a compact subshrub that produces white flowers with yellow centres. It is a native of Tenerife.

Garden Visits

July is often the month when most gardens are at their peak. Summer borders are crowded with plants of various height, either standing alone or with the natural support provided by their lower neighbours. The scent of honeysuckle and old fashion roses will make you linger in the evening sun because there is only one way a garden can go after its peak. Enjoy it now for as long as possible.

This is one month when gardeners should make a note of plants that are growing in the wrong place, is there a clash of colour, the problem may be solved by re-shuffling some plants around. This is best done in the autumn. In addition to taking notes it is a good idea to take photographs or videotape your garden which you will enjoy watching during those long cold and wet winter nights. In the winter you can decide what plants need moving around, what new varieties need to be added, what part of the garden lacks colour, what eyesores need to be eliminated.

It is amazing how easy it is to forget how different parts of the garden looked in summer. This is a good time of the year to visit gardens open to the public, for some horticulture inspiration. Every garden is different and there is always something to learn about garden design, how different plants perform in different areas. There are a number of gardens open to the public in Limerick.

Jobs for the week

Prune spring flowering shrubs that they have finished flowering. Any shoots that carried flowers can be cut back, to shape the shrub and control its size.

Some trees that are grafted, such as apple, pear and corkscrew hazel, produce suckers from the base. Remove these suckers down to ground level.