Gladioli are not planted until the end of spring because their corms are not winter hardy. Gladiolus communis byzantinus , however is an exception, because its natural habitat differs from most of the other gladioli species. The plant produces violet red flowers arranged closely together along the upper part of the flower stem. The flower stem grows up to 2 feet tall. The plant likes a position in full sun, the only other requirement is a well drained soil since they are unable to tolerate excess water. Its early flowering period makes this species a must for all gardens.
Nectaroscordium siculum (Honey Lily) is another bulbous perennial in full flower now. A native of France and Italy it produces stout stems up to 3 feet tall in June. It produces numerous bell shaped flowers which hang down from the top of the stem. The flowers are cream in colour with purple stripes on the inside. It will grow in any moderately fertile, well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. The plant can be grown in a wild garden or herbaceous border. After the flowers fade seed pods are produced on the tip of the stems which may self-seed if conditions are right.
Shrubs of the week
Crinodendron hookerianum (Lantern Tree) is an evergreen shrub or small tree from Chile. The plant is grown for its dark green foliage and flowers. In May and June it produces bell or lantern shaped red flowers. Grow in fertile, moist but well drained, humus rich acid soil in partial shade or full sun with the roots kept cool and shaded. Shelter from cold drying winds, the young growth and flower buds may be damaged by hard frost. The plant can be pruned after flowering to remove dead or damaged growth. The lower side branches can be removed to raise the foliage up from the ground and provide space for bulbs or small shrubs. There are only two species of crinodendron: Crinodendron hookeriaana produces red flowers while Crinodendron patagua has white flowers in late summer and prefers drier conditions.
Tamarix , a native of the Mediterranean, is a hardy deciduous shrub which thrives even when fully exposed to harsh salt winds, is in flower now. Grown for its attractive foliage which consists of needle like leaves and the pink plume of small flowers produced along the stems. In coastal areas the plant can be used as a hedge or windbreak. In an inland garden the plant must be sheltered from cold drying winds. Prune after flowering to prevent the plant becoming top heavy unstable and prevent it from swarming its neighbours. It can be trained easily into a standard by removing the side shoots until the desired height is reached, pinch out the growing tips to produce a bushy head top. Grow in full sun in well drained soil in coastal areas, inland gardens may need to grow it in a damper soil.
This week we have planted out leeks grown from seed in the greenhouse in April. Transplant the seedlings, spacing the plants 4-6 inches apart. The young plants are placed in a small hole which is filled with water. Leeks like a fertile, moist soil with lots of compost mixed with it. They need a long growing season, they can take up to five months to harvest. Leeks can be harvested from autumn through to spring. Leeks may also be grown from seed planted directly into the ground in May and thinned out later. ‘Oarsman’ is an F1 hybrid that we grow.
Continue to sow seeds of lettuce to provide a succession of delicious plants all summer long. Lettuces grow best in moist, well-drained soil with plenty of compost added in. ‘Lolla Rossa’ is a loose-leafed variety with frilled, red coloured leaves that are not attacked by slugs. Lettuces can bolt easily, producing long, thick stems that are bitter and useless for eating. This is often caused by poor soil and lack of water.
Water onions in this dry weather, if the soil dries out the sets will bolt and go to seed. If seed heads appear, remove them at once.
Garden Club Notices
Boyce’s Garden at Mountrenchard, Foynes is open daily to the public. Tel. 069 65302.