Daily Archives: 21 June 2010

Celebrate Summer

It’s a celebration of summer this week with Midsummer’s Day on Thursday and the Summer Solstice today. Midsummer’s Day is primarily a Celtic fire festival, which represented the middle of summer.

It dates back several millennia, and many stone circles (such as Stone Henge) are aligned to the sunrise on this day.

Midsummer fires would be lit all over the countryside, and it was customary for people to jump through the fires, folklore suggesting that the height reached by the most athletic jumper would be the height of that year’s harvest. After Christianity was adopted in Britain, the festival became known as St John’s Day; the birthday of St John the Baptist. Traditionally St John’s Eve was seen as a time when fairies were thought to be at their most powerful (hence Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Back to reality and modern life, I don’t think too many of us will be jumping fires on Thursday, but we can enjoy today’s Summer Solstice. And what a glorious day for it! The sun is shining, and hedgerows and gardens bursting with flowers.

Why not make the most of the extra daylight and make the Foliage Fountain – it’s an elegant hanging basket and it only takes an hour. And for such minimal effort, what a result! The vivid colours will brighten up any porch or doorway.

Win a Portable Gardening Set with Dairy DiaryTo celebrate summer, we are giving away two portable gardening sets

Each portable set contains a handy pouch with a fork, trowel, dipper and secateurs. It takes just a few seconds to enter online – so why not do it now? Good luck.

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas now available from the Dairy Diary store.

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Foliage Fountain

A bold and impressive array of plants spills out of this eye-catching terracotta hanger like a fountain in full flow – the striking purple, pink and blue colour scheme is not for the faint-hearted!

Plant in late spring or early summer for a display that will last throughout summer. Planting will take an hour or so.

Foliage Fountain from Seasonal Garden IdeasPlants required
Large black Mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’).
Sedge (Carex hachijoensis ‘Evergold’).
Coral flower (Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ or ‘Licorice’).
Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’).
Two deep pink busy Lizzies (Impatiens).
Fairy fan flower (Scaevola aemula ‘Blue Wonder’).

Equipment
Large conical terracotta hanging container (or any other container of your choice), with hanging rods and hook and drainage holes in the bottom.
Broken crocks for drainage.
Potting compost with added sharp sand or grit.
Trowel.

1 Water all plants thoroughly the day before planting. If your pot is cone-shaped like the one shown here, prop it up securely while you plant it.

2 Line the bottom of the cone with broken crocks for drainage. Fill three-quarters full with the compost mixture.

3 Plant the black Mondo grass first, placing it at the back. Firm in well. Place the busy Lizzies next, one each side of the black Mondo grass. Firm in.

4 Adjust the level of compost as needed, then plant the coral flower directly in front of the black Mondo grass.

5 Now deal with the front planting. Adjust the level of the compost again as necessary. Position the fairy fan flower to the left, the sedge in the centre and the morning glory to the right. Firm in, then top up with more compost to within 2.5cm (1in) of the rim of the container. Insert a slow-release fertiliser spike.

6 Hang the container securely in its permanent position, in full sun or light shade. Ensure all hooks and fixings are strong enough to take the full weight of the pot and its plants. Water thoroughly.

Tip
A hanging container like this must have good drainage holes. If the pot you have chosen hasn’t got any, use an electric drill to make some in the bottom.

Notes
The fairy fan flower (Scaevola), flowering on the extreme left here, is a fairly new plant to become available in garden centres. It hails from Australia and is tender. The morning glory shown here on the right will come in to flower in late summer, bearing deep blue blooms that each last only one day, but are followed by more all the time.

Aftercare
Water well, especially in hot weather. Deadhead the flowers as they fade.

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas now available from the Dairy Diary store.

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