Top 10 plants for summer
Helen Dillon’s Ranelagh garden is a stunner
Helen says . . . “Many gardeners grow the popular Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ but the great advantage of Allium ‘Globe Master’ is that it is far
longer-flowered – those purple drumsticks will last for anything up to seven weeks.”
If ever there was a flower that symbolises the beauty of the classic herbaceous border in high summer bloom, it’s the delphinium with its soaring spires of peacock-blue flowers. But it’s a challenge to grow, requiring a deep, rich, moist but well-drained soil in full sun, constant protection from slugs and unobtrusive support – there are few sadder sights than that of the broken flower stems, toppled by a summer gale. In other words, a plant for the diligent gardener.
Helen says . . . “Yes, delphiniums are an absolute pain, but they’re worth it. In particular I like those developed by the late German breeder Karl Foerster, who selected his plants for their colour, stability and resistance to disease.
“Once flowers start to fade, I cut stems back and give a good feed for a second, smaller flush of blooms in September.”
The Foerster variety, D. ‘Finsteraarhorn’ is available from mountvenus.com.
Double Welsh Poppy/
Meconopsis cambrica ‘Flore-Pleno’
The fiery, ruffled flowers of this short-lived perennial poppy are everywhere in the Dillon garden, popping up throughout the borders and even under the arching caulms of the ornamental bamboo Borinda albocerea.
A tap-rooted perennial, it likes a fertile, well-drained soil and light shade. H x S of 45 x 30cm. Seed available from secretseeds.co.uk
Helen says . . . “A great plant that flowers from May until September. While it happily self-seeds, I weed out any that produce single-flowers as otherwise they slowly take over. The only exception is a single, deep orange form that I’m very fond of – but I make sure to grow it far away from the others.”
Masterwort/ Astrantia major ‘Ruby Wedding’
This clump-forming herbaceous perennial produces a mass of starry, dark ruby-red flowers from June right into August. Fast growing and fully hardy, it likes a moist but free-draining soil in sun or light shade. H x S of 50cm x 90cm. From boynegardencentre.com
Helen says . . . “While there are countless different varieties of astrantia, this is one of the finest. But make sure that you get the true ‘Ruby Wedding’. I got mine from Elizabeth Strangman [the English nursery-owner and author] years ago, but I’ve seen some for sale that are only a poor imitation of the original plant.