The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 9: Carole and Mairi get stuck into Beechgrove’s bog and pond areas, while George continues to show us how to garden in small spaces with his summer bedding in pots.
Elsewhere, Kirsty gives us a tour of spring’s finest in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, showcasing riveting rhododendrons and majestic meconopsis. And Beechgrove introduces gardener and Indonesian cook Dina Watt, as she uses homegrown produce from her Aberdeenshire garden to create delicious recipes with an Indonesian twist.
The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 9
Rhododendrons are grown for their spectacular flowers, usually borne in spring. Some also have young leaves and stems covered in a striking woolly coating (indumentum) and some – the deciduous rhododendrons or azaleas – have good autumn colour.
Commonly classed as either rhododendrons or azaleas, these popular woodland shrubs put on spectacular flowering displays from spring to early summer. Rhododendrons are usually medium or large evergreen shrubs, while azaleas tend to be smaller and may be evergreen or deciduous. Azalea flowers are usually smaller, but come in a more vivid array of shades, and are sometimes gloriously fragrant. Most rhododendrons and azaleas require acid soils.
Choose a site with dappled shade in sheltered conditions. Avoid deep shade beneath other trees. Most rhododendrons will tolerate a more open site if sheltered from cold, drying winds. Dwarf alpine species will tolerate full sun provided the soil does not dry out. Avoid frost pockets and sites exposed to early morning sun.
In late winter or early spring, an application of general fertiliser such as poultry manure pellets at a rate of 70g per sq m (2oz per sq yd) is beneficial. For plants in tubs or other containers change the top 5cm (2in) of potting media every winter and feed in summer with a liquid fertiliser or add controlled release fertiliser pellets to the potting medium.
Meconopsis is a genus of nearly 80 species of often short-lived or monocarpic perennials which flower just once and then die. They are best known as ‘blue poppies’ with large saucer-shaped flowers but many have attractive leaf rosettes.
Meconopsis grow best in the cooler and wetter areas of Northern England and Scotland and are a challenge in the South. Even a few days of bright sun in dry conditions will scorch plants in unsuitable sites. They require a humus-rich, moist but well-drained, slightly alkaline to slightly acid soil. More important than the pH is that the soil has plenty of organic matter. Site plants in partial shade with shelter from cold, drying winds. They are particularly suited to woodland gardens but also do well in moist, shaded beds.
Never allow plants to dry out during the summer months. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as Growmore, at 35g per sq m (10oz per sq yd) in spring and mulch round plants with garden compost or well-rotted manure.
Plants can either be propagated by division or raised from seed or, in the case of some species, by both. Division is best done in spring at the first signs of growth.
A suitable sowing medium for seed is two parts multipurpose peat-free compost to one part perlite, passed through a sieve. Meconopsis seed requires light to germinate so either surface sow and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite to anchor seeds and prevent drying out or, alternatively, top off the pot with damp perlite and sow the seed into this.