Top 10 plants for summer
Helen Dillon’s Ranelagh garden is a stunner
Over 40 years in the making, the glorious town gardens of 45 Sandford Terrace in Ranelagh, Dublin have been described as a horticultural tour de force. As for their creator, the Scottish-born gardener Helen Dillon, she’s earned herself an international reputation as an outstanding plantsperson who combines a painterly understanding of design with hands-on practicality, knowledge and wit.
Last week I visited those famous gardens and asked Dillon to name 10 of her favourite plants for the midsummer garden. Here is what she chose:
Easy to cultivate, tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions and loved by pollinating insects, this hardy biennial/short-lived perennial produces a froth of deeply scented, edible, white/lilac/purple flowers throughout early summer – although you have to wait until dusk to fully enjoy those great wafts of sweet, spicy, perfume. Sow seed (seedaholic.com) from now until the end of July to flower next year. H x S of 100cm x 45cm.
Helen says . . . “This plant self-seeds so readily that it’s almost a weed. I prefer the darker-coloured forms so every year I select the plant with the best flowers and then let the seed ripen before collecting it (the rest of the plants are pulled up and dumped up on the compost heap). I sow into trays, then grow the young plants on in modules before transplanting into the garden in early November.”
purpurea f. albiflora
A graceful biennial/short-lived perennial, the white foxglove produces tall spires of tubular flowers whose pale beauty brings an ethereal quality to the Dillon garden. A promiscuous self-seeder, it likes a rich, moist but well-drained soil in light shade, but will also happily grow in full sun if soil stays moist. H x S 150-200cm x 25-50cm. Sow seed now (Thompson & Morgan, from mrmiddleton.com)
Helen says . . . “I let these plants self-seed every year, but make sure to weed out any that look as if they’re reverting to purple. The trick is to check the leaf petioles of the young plants – if they’re flushed pink/red, pull them out. In August I gather young seedlings up, pot them on and replant in October.”
Allium ‘Globe Master’
The giant, violet-coloured, spherical umbels of this bulbous herbaceous perennial are one of the glories of the Dillon garden, whether grown in those famous dustbins or in its spectacular flower borders.
Plant bulbs in autumn (mrmiddleton.com). Likes full sun and a fertile, well-drained soil.
H x S of 80-100cm x 20cm.