The Bank Holiday weekend is always something we British tend to hype up. With extended time off work, we start thinking of getting out into the garden, perhaps planting up a few tubs with summer bedding plants, maybe the odd hanging basket. After all, June marks the start of summer. A time for lazy days sat in the sun, surrounded by summer flowers.
Unfortunately, the weather is not concerned with our carefully laid plans. The weather will do what it does when it does it. All our hopes, dreams and plans are completely ignored as one weather system or another casually drifts in bringing with more showers ... or maybe, we hope, sunshine!
The recent Bank Holiday weekend, sadly, was dominated by rain systems which put paid to many people’s carefully laid plans. Thankfully, the Monday wasn’t bad and, despite a gloomy forecast, we managed to stay dry. Of key importance, however, is temperature.
Fortunately, temperatures have been fairly reasonable, and so the combination of moisture and warmth have been perfect from the perspective of plants. Growth has been strong and sustained. Recent plantings have taken hold and quickly start to push down new roots. They couldn’t have a better start. So while barbecues may have had to be abandoned and moved indoors, plants have loved it.
Quite what you plant depends very much on your sense of optimism or otherwise. As a gardener I am tuned into thinking “this year will be a classic” and I plant accordingly. The pragmatist in me demands that my main summer plantings are dominated by the wet or dry weather dependable, non-stop begonias which I highlighted last week, and their cousins, the wonderful bedding begonia semperflorens. Planted in tubs with some trailing lobelia or trailing diascias they give a good display all summer whatever the weather.
But so too do pansies, violas, dahlias, mimulus and verbenas. All provide lots of colour even if summer is a damp squib. It would, however, be a boring world if we just planted one kind of plant, colourful or not. Consequently, as gardeners, we like to try other stuff as well. With a bit of sunshine, salvias, geraniums, coleus and petunias are fantastic, as are the bright orange swathes of colour produced by African and French marigolds.
Our wet Bank Holiday news may have been dominated by the political “earthquake” of UKIP’s election successes bringing with it a mixture of hope and concern. Personally, I would have voted for anyone who could have promised (and delivered) a little more daytime sunshine and overnight rain. It wasn’t on any manifesto and so I plant for all weathers, after all I’m optimistic, this year is going to be a classic.