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Late Summer Colour

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Jul 29, 2016
Dahlias work well in all gardens
Summer is well underway now and the garden is a hive of activity but over the last couple of days customers have been coming into CountryLife looking for plants that will help prolong the colour even longer and get them right through to autumn. 

Some gardeners often find that their gardens are full of colour at the start of summer but that the colour quickly fades. This is why it is important to have a transition of flowering plants throughout the garden so that the colour will last right through the season. 

Luckily there are lots of different plants that you can mix into your flowerbeds that will add a much needed splash of colour. Crocosmia, which we looked at last week, is a perfect example of a late season flower. Or this week  we took delivery of some brilliant Irish grown Chrysanthemums and Dahlias which are just on the cusp of breaking in to bloom and would provide great colour right up until the first frost. 

I always advocate for Irish grown plants as they perform so much better in our gardenschrysanthemum offer vibrant summer colour when they are already accustomed to our Irish climate. The Dahlias and Chrysanthemums that we got into the garden centre are from Cork where they were grown outside so they are in the perfect condition to plant out in the garden. I often find as well that Irish grown plants are much better at withstanding pests and diseases compared to plants which are shipped in from the continent. 

Chrysanthemums are part of  Asteraceae family and are actually native to Asia. Despite their Asian origins they work extremely well in Irish gardens and are well suited to the Irish climate. In fact the colour tends to improve as the weather gets colder and we reach autumn. 

They create great mounds of flowers which look brilliant when planted in odd numbers in a flowerbed. At the moment in the store we have Chrysanthemums in burnt orange, pink, yellow and red which would all add a great vibrant splash to a garden. 

With Chrysanthemums it is important that you water the plants freely in dry weather as they are very shallow rooted and the plant can wilt if the ground is excessively dry. I like to feed mine with a good tomato feed or seaweed feed every couple of weeks. 

Once they have finished flowering, generally after the first frost, you can cut the plant right back. To protect it over winter you can spread a layer of mulch or even leaves over the plant to protect it from excessively cold temperatures. 

Dahlias are brilliant flamboyant which again have very tropical origins. Dahlias are native to Mexico but despite their origins they do fantastically well in English and Irish gardens. They are a herbaceous perennial that will very happily take a starring role in any flowerbed. It is very easy to find one to work for you as they come in such a wide range of colours. At the moment we have great red and pink flowering varieties in store. Multicoloured dahlias are proving very popular with customers too. I find the red and white flowers (pictured) work really well thanks to the contrast in colours. 

Slugs and earwigs enjoy dahlias but are thankfully easy to control in the garden. An interesting way to control earwigs is with scrunched up balls of paper placed around the plant. The earwigs will move into the paper during the day in search of a cool place and then can easily be disposed of. 

In my own garden I like to remove dahlia flowers just before they start to fade. I have found in the past if you let the flowers fade too much while still on the stem they can damage the plant as they droop down or the flower heads will break up in the wind and it creates more of a mess to clean up.