Still wet, wet, wet and more wet!

Verbascum 'Petra' Marina Christopher Blog

It was dry when I woke up this morning so I hung some washing on the line – silly me.

As I gaze outside at my clothes dripping onto my foot high ‘lawn’ (which is growing by the minute with no obvious sign of slowing down) it gives me time to reflect on the past few weeks when I wrote my last blog.

The Chelsea Flower Show has come and gone with the only warm and fine weather we have seen in the last two months. Alitex and Country Greenhouses had attractive stands at the show, both of which I visited on a rather grey and cool Press Day. I admit my main interest was in the 5 gardens that I had supplied young plants for and I was delighted to find they had all won Gold medals including Best in Show. Not that I had much to do with their success except for providing some of the more unusual plant material but it was a good feeling nevertheless.

Last week Hampton Court Flower Show was a decidedly soggy affair with mizzle, drizzle and rain for most of the week. My Press pass (hard won by intimidation, bribery and blackmail, failed to arrive in the post) so I managed to get in courtesy of an Alitex Exhibitors pass for which I was very grateful.

I occasionally give lectures to some of the Garden Design schools and was delighted to see a couple of students win Gold medals and Best in Category. The Alitex stand, with their National Trust greenhouse faced ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ designed by Anoushka Feiler and had their back to ‘Light at the end of the Tunnel’ designed by Matthew Childs who had spent a week of work experience at Phoenix Perennial Plants during his course at the KLC School of Garden Design. It was wonderful to be there after they had received their awards and I wish them all the best for their future.

As for the nursery / marshy bog the rain continues to fall. A blocked storm drain while I was away at a wet plant sale resulted in minor flooding of the driveway with mud from my neighbour’s field. The council once informed me that I had to gratefully accept any deluge that resulted from land that was higher than mine when I was flooded previously. Arriving home from my washout sale I was not in a grateful mood and stormed to the storm drain kicking away the offending vegetation which had blocked it. In 5 minutes the water had ceased to be a torrent and reverted to a well-mannered trickle and thankfully no more mud poured into the drive. 

Warm weather and irrigation (this year just rain) is a recipe for vigorous plant growth and many of my plants are potted on into larger pots during the summer months.

Cuttings are taken throughout the season and I find that mid-summer is a good time to divide many perennials and get them well established before autumn. On my heavy clay soil planting during the hottest months of the year has proved more successful than in the spring or autumn – a complete reversal of everything I had read or been told. Too early and my soil has not warmed up enough and too late, the roots do not establish enough to see the plants through the cold winter in this frost pocket. I have also started to sow seed in July and August and have found that germination is usually very successful. 

I cannot believe that the weather will continue to chuck down rain for the rest of the year. Previous experience has shown that most years even themselves out eventually. So I am hoping that we are in for a glorious late summer – in 2011 we had the most amazing warm early October so maybe this is a trend that will persist for a few years.

To contact Marina Christopher and Phoenix Perennials marina@phoenixperennialplants.co.uk just follow the link.

Marina Christopher (July 2012)

Tags: alitex, alitex greenhouses, aluminium greenhouses, Marina Christopher