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Summer Favourites

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Feb 08, 2016

Mona Lisa is beautiful lily to grow
We are going to look at two of my favourite summer bulbs. Lilies and begonias are firm favourites with many Irish gardeners because they perform so well in our gardens. 

Regale lilies are a firm favouriteI have fond memories of both of these in my mothers garden when I was growing up. I remember the heavenly scent of regale lilies wafting through the air as I pottered around. Regale lilies have an almost cream coloured flower that has hints of deep pink on the exterior of the petals.

Scent is one of the main selling point for lilies in my eyes. It has an ability to linger in the air much longer than the scent of any other flowers in the garden. In my own garden I grow regale lilies and tiger lilies for both their scent and the vivid colour they add.

I have previously grown lilies from seeds but this needs dedication and patience as it takes around four years for a lily grown from seed to flower. Buying bulbs will mean you will get flowers the year you plant them. 

At the moment in CountryLife we have also have a variety of lily called Mona Lisa which many people will be familiar with from buying in supermarkets as cut flowers. Its flowers are a deep pinkish red colour tinged with white throughout. We also have a variety called Matrix Fusion that has brilliantly vivid colours. It grows shorter than other varieties and so works well planted in large pots. 

When planting lilies they should be planted to a depth of about double the size of the bulbs. As the lily begins to grow it will actually grow roots from its stem which will help to anchor the bulbs even more. As I try not to use slug pellets in my own garden I start my lilies off in pots first and then I plant them out into their final growing position when they are strong enough to withstand slugs. 

Lilies are a very versatile flower to have in the garden. Because of the height they grow to they work very well in the middle of a herbaceous border. They also have great impact if you plant a number of bulbs in a large container or pot. They would make a great addition to a patio or placed near a door so the scent can be enjoyed. 

Begonias-work-well-in-pots-or-flower-bedsBegonias should be treated in the opposite way when it comes to planting. These bulbs should only be lightly covered in soil or even just pressed into the soil surface. When I am getting ready to plant my begonias I soak the tubers in water overnight and then plant them the following evening. 

Begonias are a firm favourite with gardeners because of their vibrant flowers and the abundance that they appear in. You can find two different types of begonias on sale. Upright begonias are perfect for window boxes or flowerbeds. Hanging or draping begonias are then used for hanging baskets or in pots where they create a great mound of flowers.

Begonias-work-very-well-in-hanging-basketsWhen first planted begonias should be kept moist and then as they begin to grow and flower they should be watered generously. Begonias are very hungry plants and will benefit from a regular feeding of tomato or seaweed feed.

To over winter begonias I simply take the hanging basket or pot that it was grown in and place it in a shed (or similar frost free place). Then in spring once the tuber has started to grow again I carefully remove it from the old pot and repot it using fresh compost. 

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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