Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Havoc in the garden this week

THIS weeks weather has played havoc with those urgent garden chores. It would be advisable at this stage to stay off the ground until the ground dries up and the weather is more favourable.

In many gardens around the country plants such as Hamamelis, Sarcococca, Helabores and early spring flowering bulbs that were in flower recently were later laden with snow, but these early flowers are a sign that spring is on its way and to the gardener these are exciting times ahead.

Culinary and medicinal herbs, if used through the mixed borders, can be as beautiful as they are useful. Many of the large country estates would have had a separate herb garden laid out in formal design and perhaps hedged in by dwarf box.

In today's smaller garden, there just is not the space and instead you may find herbs planted in a small corner of the vegetable garden.

Many herbs have flowers and foliage too attractive to be hidden away at the back of the garden. The highly favoured common sage has eye-catching coloured foliage in shades of grey, green, purple and variegated. The ground covering Origanum vulgare, an aromatic culinary herb, smothers itself in clusters of rose purple flowers from mid-summer to autumn.

There are also evergreen Rosemary, Applemint, Sweet Bergamont (Monarda didyma) and Ruta Jackmans Blue, to name but a few. These can be planted through the mixed borders or grouped together alongside old roses and other herbaceous plants.

Try planting them along with bedding plants in baskets and window boxes to provide con- trasting foliage. Herbs, you will find, make splendid candidates for associating with not only themselves, but also other plants in the ornamental garden.

In the evenings why not relax indoors and order your summer flowering bulbs? Tuberous _ Begonias. Gladioli and Lilies will provide lots of colour and even scent when planted up in pots and placed around the patio area.

Seed potatoes should be ordered any time from a specialist grower.