Posted on 18 February, 2018Comments (0)

Garden Notes

Garden Notes

We have a range of soil types over our area, from the thick bands of red clay to the chalk bedrock. The clay seems to go in waves over the chalk so it varies in thickness. Those who struggle with heavy clay soil will enjoy the free draining nature of the chalk. I love my clay soil because it is slightly acid and allows me to grow camellias and rhododendrons. It is not acid enough to make blueberries happy though. March is a great month for these plants. Do try some if you have a couple of feet of clay before you reach the chalk. Rhododendrons have very shallow root balls and could make do with a foot of clay. I usually add some peat and tend to plant on a slight mound to make sure the drainage is good. Rhododendrons are one plant you do not stamp on to make sure they are firmly planted.

Those of you on chalk can grow a different set of plants that I can only dream of. All those pinks which over recent years have been so improved that you can have them flowering all summer. Try Whetmans or Allwoods. The Whetman cocktail series looked great when I saw them at Chelsea. All those grey leaved Mediterranean plants that hate soggy feet will love your soil. The artimesias, cistus, lavenders, rue, penstemons, hebes and iris. Many half hardy plants will survive if they so not sit in wet soil all winter. To get the early colour that camellias would give you try planting the chaenomeles (japonica). They now have ones with bigger flowers which range from cream through white, pink and peach to all sorts of red. The spring show at Wisley usually has a stand selling a good range of them. Paradise Plants from Kent who go to plant fairs but do not do mail order, contact on paradiseplants@hotmail.co.uk The daphnes will also do well though they are short lived like ceanothus.

Stella Strachan

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