July Plant of the Month: Geums

Geums were once a severely overlooked plant, often used to plug the gaps in a cottage garden scheme. But then suddenly everyone started noticing new bright, zesty flowers colours appearing all the time at flower shows boasting spectacular long flowering times turning these beauties into stars in their own right.

A fantastically useful plant, they are disliked by slugs and snails so are very useful deterrents in the garden. Boasting disease free foliage with a neat compact habit and the pretty flowers, they are a great addition to any display. The evergreen/semi evergreen foliage with is excellent for smothering weeds making them very useful groundcover all year.

Each stem produces lots of buds that will flower in succession, giving you a long summer display. Good for cutting but get the most out of them in the garden first.

Planting

Yhere are three different groups of cultivars rivale, coccineum and chiloense. The rivale have nodding, bell-like flowers. They like moisture retentive soils and prefer to grow in shade or semi shade. Coccineum are an alpine plant, flowering well after a cold winter and have upward facing flowers. The choloense are tall, sturdy plants producing large double flowers and can tolerate full sun as well as semi shade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soil and propagation: Geums like moisture retentive soils and will benefit from an annual mulching. Low maintenance but if you divide them when they start to loose growth from the middle they will last much longer, bringing years of pleasure. You can also take cuttings from the base in early spring.

They may succumb to powdery mildew at the end of the summer, just remove any affected stems. Prune back hard after flowering to give the foliage a boost for the rest of the year.

Companion Plants

Geums are very popular for Cottage Garden style designs and work really well with lots of perennials. Featuring a few well places Dahlias amongst your Geums will make them more of a colourful backdrop to the main event. Make them pop by paring the red, yellow and gold tones of Geums against purples from Alliums or Pulmonaria. You can enhance the golden shades by planting daisy like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Coreopsis or Helenium.

If you need good coverage in a shaded area why not try planting with Helleborus, which boast a similar stock of healthy evergreen foliage but will flower earlier in the year, giving you dashes of colour throughout the seasons as well as a constant lush green coverage.

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August Plant of the Month – Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire

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Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire

(Russian Sage)

 

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These spectacular plants, also known as Russian Sage are incredibly popular right now, and it’s easy to see why.

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Producing impressive tall spires of silvery leaves topped with spikes of gorgeous, tiny, violet purple bell-shaped flowers bloom in late summer. Loved by butterflies and bees, it makes a great cut flower with its lovely scent, which is a mixture of sage and lavender. Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit.

 

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Native to central Asia, Russian Sage’s natural habitat is on dry plains and they are natural sun lovers. They are deciduous shrubs which, once established, are hassle free, drought tolerant (in fact they prefer it) and need an annual pruning in spring.

Planting

POTM-Planting

Perovskia will grow well in any soils, even poor or chalky, as long as they get really good drainage, water-logging will lead to root rot. They like to be in full sun and can withstand seaside air.

Prune hard annually in early to mid-spring for a healthy plant and better flowers that year. If you don’t they will come back week and floppy and generally be an untidy mess.

Cut back previous years flowering stems to within one or two buds of the older woody framework. Remove thin, weak and damaged growth. Then mulch and feed. For the first year keep them moist but not soggy to get them established. In following years they will withstand significant neglect!

They are best planted out in autumn when dormant – if you buy one that is in leaf in the spring be sure it hasn’t been growing in a poly tunnel as it may struggle when you expose it to the elements in your garden.

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Companion planting

Russian sage is mainly used as an ornamental plant and is pretty versatile for pairing with lots of late summer ornamental grasses and perennials. You can create a really powerful display planting near other silver leafed perennials, near a lavender bush for example, and as both are bee magnets they are a great choice for wildlife friendly gardens. Tall bright coloured perennials will also look great with it in a mixed border, for examples look at Geums, Rudbeckia and Helenium to name a few!

You can also try under-planting with spring bulbs, such as Tulips or Alliums, as they will do well at hiding the bulbs foliage as it dies off in the summer.