Gardeners’ World 2022 episode 14: The team head to Birmingham for one of the highlights of the horticultural calendar – the annual Gardeners’ World Live event.
Monty Don, Arit Anderson, Nick Bailey, Adam Frost and Rachel de Thame inspire us with the best design tips from the show gardens and explore the wealth of plants on offer in the floral marquee. We catch up with Frances Tophill, who has designed and created her very first show garden, and we also meet expert growers who share their passion for penstemons and hydrangea.
Gardeners’ World 2022 episode 14
Shrubby hydrangeas brighten borders in mid to late summer with their showy, but delicate, long-lasting flowers in shades of pink, white or blue. Many have attractive autumn colour and leaf shape. Climbing hydrangeas flower in summer and are well suited for covering north and east-facing walls. Most popular is the fully hardy Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. Evergreen Hydrangea seemannii and Hydrangea serratifolia need shelter as they are prone to cold damage.
Shrubby hydrangeas are well suited to borders adding structure and colour from mid-summer onwards. More compact cultivars can be grown in containers. The flowers fade to shades of pink and can last well into the winter months. They form round or conical tightly packed flower heads or flatter flowers with a ring of large flowers surrounding tiny inner one.
Small- to medium-size shrubs, with dome, upright or vase-shapes and handsome, toothed leaves. Mophead types (Hydrangea macrophylla and Hydrangea arborescence) have round, tightly-packed flowerheads. Others (Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea quercifolia) have a conical shape. Lacecap hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla, Hydrangea serrata and Hydrangea aspera) have flatter blooms with a ring of large petals surrounding tiny inner flowers.
Hydrangeas like moister soils that are not prone to waterlogging. Improving the soil and mulch with organic matter, such as garden compost or a manure-based soil conditioner, will help to keep soil moist. Plant hydrangeas in sun or light shade in a spot sheltered from cold winds.
Growing hydrangeas in very dry soil and full sun can lead to leaf scorch and poor flowering. The new spring growth is prone to frost damage, so plant away from frost pockets and scorching wind.
Penstemons are reliable summer-flowering perennials in all but the coldest regions. With semi-evergreen foliage in winter and a flowering season from summer into autumn, they bring welcome colour to the garden.
These upright, bushy plants, with narrow pointed leaves, produce spires of thimble-like flowers, sometimes flaring at the tip. Colours include white, pink, red, blue and purple; some flowers combining two colours known as bi-colours. Penstemons grow in most soils that drain freely, flowering prolifically in fertile soils. They need full sun. In cold areas, they appreciate the protection of growing near a sunny, warm wall.
March to mid May is an ideal time to plant; the soil will be warming up in spring, the roots will quickly settle in, and the plants start putting on growth. If you miss this time, don’t worry, you can plant container-grown plants anytime from March to October, as long as the soil is not too dry or you water to keep it moist.