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Flowers, frustrations and the art of patience in the garden

Gardener Gail Rowlands updates on how the flowers are reacting to the fluctuating summer weather, and the best types of flowers for pollinators.

Well this year is proving to be a challenge in the garden. Scorching heat followed by endless cool,

rainy interludes; climate change is definitely making itself felt. Whilst deadheading and cutting back this week, it almost felt like I was carrying out an autumn tidy.

The Roses

The roses are being particularly tardy. We had one beautiful flush of bloom in early July but this

has not repeated…….yet. Lots of bud but no flowering. However the Geranium Rozanne and

Alchemilla Mollis which underplant them have been glorious, providing welcome colour on gloomy days.

Roses sluggish so far, but violet geraniums (Geranium 'Rozanne') bringing some colour.

The Long Border and Cut Flower Beds

The long border is the same. The delphiniums, alcea (hollyhocks) and hemerocallis (day lilies)

have been stunning and flowered for a good length of time in vivid colours. Other plants have

flowered and gone over quickly. The nepeta (catmint) has been particularly disappointing. It has

flowered but lacked the intense blue it usually displays. Luckily there is an abundance of leaf in

varying greens, textures and shapes which provide interest regardless.

Flower bed with orange lilies
Cheerful day lilies
So many different leaf shapes, shades and textures. Thank goodness for the red achillea adding a pop of colour though.

The cut flower beds have continued to perform above my expectations providing a variety of

shape, colour and fragrance. Long may they bloom.

Choosing wildlife-friendly flowers

I am increasingly looking at the shape of flower heads in my choice of planting to ensure they are

as wildlife friendly as possible. Flat, open flowers and tubular ones that the insects can get right into are definitely best. Achillea (yarrow), penstemon, perennial geraniums and rudbeckia are good examples of these. The umbellifers (flat heads) provide a large open landing plane. Each flat head is comprised of many tiny flowers packed tightly together, an absolute feast on a plate! Examples are fennel, cow parsley and verbena bonanariensis. The bell shaped flowers provide a very protected environment. Examples are bluebells and digitalis (foxglove).

However, I still feel I can justify a beautiful, densely-bloomed rose, (appealing to us, but not so much to insects), by putting them alongside more insect-attracting planting, such as the Geranium Rozanne and Alchemilla mollis at Langdon.

A honey bee feasting on Geranium Rozanne

It would be easy to be despondent but, in spite of the trials and tribulations, each bed is showing

an abundant and diverse variety of wildlife. What more could a gardener ask for…….well maybe

just a tad more sun and warmth!

Guided Walk - Sat 5th August

If you would like to see examples of different flower heads and the successes and not successful

plant life at Langdon, why not join us for a guided walk followed by refreshments on Saturday

August 5th at 10.00. Click here for more information and tickets.

Flowers for pollinators

Top row (left to right): Penstemon, Achillea, Coreopsis / Bottom row (left to right): Rudbeckia, Geranium Rozanne

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