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Gardening | 4th June 2022
 

Add a splash of Monet to your borders!

Nasturtiums create ‘ribbons of colour’ in summer gardens

 
 
 

The Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend will be a welcome opportunity for many of us to get out into the garden, maybe hosting a garden party for friends and family or just making the most of the extra time off to catch up with a few jobs.

The last few weeks have seen some mixed weather but hopefully by now we should have seen the last of the frosts and can safely put tender bedding plants outside; although if you have had them in a greenhouse then a period of ‘hardening off’ is strongly advised. Gradually getting the plants accustomed to being exposed to the elements in a cold frame or sheltered spot is well worth it, especially as we do seem to be having some blustery and chilly winds that can shred soft new foliage.

I have some pots of nasturtiums that are ready to be planted out to add some extra colour to containers that are planted up with shrubs. The nasturtiums have been growing in a polytunnel so will need the hardening off treatment before being planted.

Cheap and easy to grow they are perfect for brightening up any garden and can be used in pots or borders and there are compact varieties too if you want the colour but not the sprawl, although that can be an attractive feature and is used to great effect in Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny where the nasturtium plants stretch out and grow across the paths through the garden in ribbons of colour. Nasturtium flowers are edible too and even if you don’t fancy consuming them they really do brighten up a bowl of salad. Sown now either singly or a few in a small plant pot they will soon germinate and you will have plants flowering later this summer, right up until the first frosts.

Another plant that grows fantastically well at Giverny is Wisteria and a well grown plant in full bloom is spectacular with its colourful curtain of scented flowers that are loved by bees, good autumn colour and then the attractive gnarled trunks and stems in the winter months. This is something that I have struggled to achieve any success with here but I’m not admitting defeat just yet. We all know the saying ‘right plant, right place’ and I think that problem has been that I’ve been using the wrong plant in the wrong place. Wisteria sinensis – Chinese Wisteria seems to be the most commonly grown species in the UK and it is hardy enough for most gardens but I’ve been trying to get it established in a part of the garden where it is a little too exposed to cold winds in the winter rather than growing it up a wall where it will get more protection. I think it’s time to have another go but I’m going to use Wisteria floribunda or Japanese Wisteria as it has the benefit of larger flowers (some cultivars have racemes up to 4ft (120cm) long!) and is possibly slightly hardier than Wisteria sinensis, making it more suitable the garden here. Unlike nasturtiums that are cheap and cheerful, Wisteria can be pricey but it’s worth paying the extra for a well grown plant propagated from cuttings, buds or grafts as these will start to bloom within a couple of years of planting. Seed raised plants may be much cheaper but can take 10-20 years to bloom.

 
 
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