John Stoa’s summer flowers are continuing to enjoy the remarkably warm season.
We have had a fantastic spell of summer weather, followed by the rain, and the garden flowers have put on a brilliant display, apart from those that suffered in the drought, got their leaves scorched by too hot sunshine and those that got blown over by the gales.
This year will be remembered as a very hot year, and it remains to be seen whether the next hot year is coming soon.
My memory of hot summers goes far back to 1976 and 1959, the year I started work as an apprentice gardener in early July based in the Howff Cemetery.
There was no rain for three months, and then the heavens opened up in a deluge.
It was also a fantastic year for flowers at their best around McManus Gallery, Sea Braes, the City Churches and Baxter Park and many other Parks Department parks and open spaces.
This year my garden has been a mass of flowers from early spring.
The mid-summer thunderstorms were a bit much for some plants, so they had a wee rest before resuming flowering as normality returned.
It is hard to pick out the winners as so many plants put out masses of flowers.
My red geraniums have been the show stealers both at home in beds, tubs and hanging baskets, but you needed to remove spent flowers to give room for the next blossom.
Roses were also having a great time, and again they kept flowering provided the spent flowers were removed before they went to seed.
French marigolds and petunias both loved the summer heatwave, but there was a battle with slugs as the ground needed constant watering which suited the slugs.
Tuberous begonias, now well over 20 years old were a bit slow to flower but once they began they were a mass display with great impact.
My secret is to split the corms in spring by chopping through them with a trowel once I can see where the new shoots are.
It may be a bit of rough treatment, but they never complain.
Sweet peas quickly put on a great show, but keeping them from running to seed was a constant problem.
Garden pinks were in their element as they just love hot dry conditions as long as they get some watering now and then.
The scent was wonderful, and just as they were going over the strongly perfumed oriental lilies took centre stage.
A few years ago I purchased a few, and then the next year a few more and now I devote a lot of garden space to them.
They are great companion plants for planting amongst spring flowering bulb drifts, coloured stemmed cornus and willow which get chopped back to stools in early April, as well as amongst low growing spring flowering azaleas.
They add colour to many areas which otherwise would be green, but dull.
Hanging baskets with spring flowering pansies were replaced with geraniums, petunias, lobelia and impatiens, but the pansies will continue to flower for many months, so plants were carefully removed and planted in a border that had room to spare.
Chrysanthemums, dahlias and gladioli grown for cut flower started to open up at the beginning of August.
They enjoyed the hot spell in June and July and put on strong growth so now flowering can begin and continue till late autumn.
Annual poppies, candytuft, cornflower, Livingston daisies and godetia were sown on bare areas where spring bulb foliage has been removed and grow quickly to flower from August onwards.
The herbaceous border is now showing the summer flowers of shasta daisies, day lilies, oriental lilies, Japanese anemonies and delphiniums.
The show continues as plants and gardeners reaped the benefits of this long hot summer.
Wee jobs to do this week
Now is a good time to look ahead to the late autumn and early winter to make sure there are some salads available as there are some varieties that are fairly hardy but still tender on the plate.
Sow lettuce Hilde or Winter Density and spring onions on land cleared of a previous crop. The ground will already be in good heart so no need for compost or manure. Just firm the soil, rake level and take out drills about a foot apart.
Germination is quick at this time of year so some thinning may be necessary, or use the thinnings for another row.