Summer is coming and with the long awaited re-opening of garden centres and nurseries on the 13th May after almost two months of closure, gardeners are ‘champing at the bit’ to restock depleted garden supplies and begin planning the planting out of the summer bedding. Most gardeners will have a greenhouse or somewhere to nurture new plants from seed and overwinter plants, but whatever the garden space, we will no doubt be looking to design the planting up of various styles of containers, hanging baskets and summer beds whilst taking in the all colours and types of plants available down those garden centre aisles.
So what to plant for a spectacular summer garden display? Plants such as Pelargoniums will be easy to grow and will always make your garden look pretty good all summer without too much maintenance and at the end of summer these can be overwintered in any frost free environment. They are slug resistant too, so if you find your garden is a slug paradise, it is best to consider plants that aren’t quite so tasty to slugs such as Fuchsia, Lobelia and Antirrhinums (Snapdragons).
Plants that will attract slugs include Impatiens (Bizzie Lizzie), Verbena, Pansy, Petunia and a heaven for slugs is a bed of juicy Marigolds and although all these are a good meal for slugs, the pollinators are attracted to them too. Often a bed of Marigolds will be planted adjacent to vegetable gardens because these plants attract the pests and predators away from the veggie patch.
So how do you decide on the plants for your summer garden?
Something to consider would be how much time you have to maintain your garden space. If you have oodles of time then plants such as Mesembryanthemum (Ice Plant) which produce colourful, long lasting flower heads will need regular deadheading as do the gloriously scented Sweet Pea which will bring you great rewards for your hard work, but will need regular deadheading and removal of seed heads throughout the summer. Petunia, Surfinia and Verbena all need to be maintained throughout the season to keep them all flowering regularly and looking great.
Another important consideration for your summer planting is how the light works in the garden – is it in deep or partial shade, dappled shade, full sunlight – all these need to be taken into consideration for the success of your summer garden planting. Most bedding plants will not thrive under a dark shady spot – but the fun and colourful Impatiens (Bizzie Lizzie), Begonia, Pansy, and Viola will tolerate dappled and partially shady spots along with the Nicotiania, Antirrhinum and Fuchsia.
Is your garden a seamless extension to your living space? If so, you may be considering a particular colour theme and styling to your summer garden; will it be a garden space with a mass splash of ‘paintbox colour’ plants of varying heights and fragrances? Or is the colour palette more muted and streamlined and dedicated to a single colour such as a mass of beautiful blue flowering plants or calming white flowers against differing shades of green foliage.
Choosing a single colour theme such as white and blending plants such as Orlaya Grandiflora (White Laceflower), Delphinium Grandiflorum ‘Guardian White’ which bloom early to mid summer and the beautiful Leucanthemum ‘White Breeze’ to attract the bees and the butterflies to your garden will result in an elegant and chic garden.
Whatever the summer garden plan, with renewed access to garden supplies and plants, the results of careful choosing and planting will no doubt bring joyful results for the long sunny, summer days ahead.