PLANTS OF INTEREST

Everybody knows lilac, and you will probably smell it before you see it. One sprig will fill a room with scent. To me it symbolises the beginning of summer. In the language of flowers, lilac symbolises first love and youthful innocence hence its popularity at weddings. Lilac comes in a variety of colours from pure white, myriad mauves through to rich carmine reds. The traditional lilacs tend to grow rather large for the modern garden, reaching a height of three to four meters. You can however seek out more compact varieties , such as Syringa prestoniae “Miss Japan” and “Miss Canada” and Syringa pinnatolia which have all the attributes of their larger cousins, but much more suitable for the modern garden. Lilac flowers in general may/june and can be rather dull for the rest of the year, but you can use them as a support for the very fine climber Tropaeolum speciosum (flame creeper) which will cover the bush in July/August with the most fantastic red flowers. Tropaeolum needs a little encouragement but is well worth the effort. For the moment enjoy your lilac. Lilac thrives in any well-drained fertile soil. It may take a number of years to flower. If pruning is necessary it should be done immediately after flowering. A handful of potash in July/ August will result in an abundance of colour the following season.

Veg of the week… broad beans

While all else is wilting or being eaten by slugs these little plants will flourish. Broad beans are the sweetest when perfectly fresh. They will cope in large pots but fare better with more space. Maybe choose a dwarf variety for pots. Blackfly are the main enemy. Pinch out the plants growing tips when in full flower . broad beans are very versatile, you can eat the whole pod when very young, the little beans when they start to become visible through the pod, or the tougher ones left at the end of the season are great in soups and stews (I’m told).

Unusual bits - How to start growing your Lunch (Peppers)

Unusual bits… not so unusual anymore, as most people I’m finding can now provide a protected environment, glasshouse or a tunnel or even one of the modern cold frames. To produce peppers you follow the same procedure as with tomatoes. The larger sweet peppers, yellow, red ,green and orange are the most popular, while their smaller hot, hot chilli sisters are gaining momentum as they can be quite easily grown on a windowsill. The plants are much smaller and easier to handle. Feed them with the osmo universal as the peppers develop. Leaving them too long on the vine however detracts from the flavour.

May