Perfect blunder in the garden

Geranium Bob’s Blunder with Bergenia

Geranium Bob’s Blunder with Bergenia

First published in Gardening
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GINA PARKINSON finds that a geranium planted in haste when she moved has turned out not to be a mistake at all

A LOT of clearing and cutting back is being done in our garden at the moment, as beds are being changed and a couple of trees have died. Consequently some areas are looking rather bare and alien to my style of gardening, which is to fill every available space.

The effort to avoid bare soil is sometimes rewarded with a really good combination of plants and this has happened in a semi-shaded spot. Being in an area under inherited mature conifers, it could have been tricky to think what to put there. But it was the end of summer when we came here nearly five years ago and plants were just put in anywhere in the anxiety to get them planted before winter.

That year we had the coldest, longest winter for years and many plants left in pots perished, so it was worth the early mornings and late nights spent transferring them to their new homes.

Some things have been moved and put into more appropriate spots, but one that has remained where it landed is the great little geranium called ‘Bob’s Blunder’.

This plant is worth seeking out as it is an amazingly hardy specimen that flowers for months and seems to cope with anything thrown at it. It is unworried by snails and slugs and one plant will spread over a large area.

Don’t be put off by this though, as the long stems can be traced back to the main plant and don’t root as they go.

So it will never become invasive and can be cut back if necessary. However, I cannot believe that anyone would want to trim back this plant with its small, soft bronze leaves and constant supply of dainty pink flowers. It meanders happily around the feet of other plants, occasionally hoisting itself up a stems or two then falling back to ground level.

Geranium ‘Bob’s Blunder’ occurred at Cotswold Garden Flowers and is named after the owner, nurseryman Bob Brown. He declines to explain what the blunder is, but don’t be put off by a name.

We grow our ‘Blunder’ with a white-flowered Bergenia, another splendid ground-cover plant but very different to the geranium. The large leaves of this plant are green and glossy and the flowers appear during March and April before ‘Bob’s Blunder’ has got going.

The spent flowers of the bergenia together with any old or damaged leaves are cut back in mid to late spring and by the time we get to mid summer there is a lovely combination of new bergenia foliage and long spreading stems of the geranium.

 

In the veg garden

THE blackberries in our garden seem to have ripened early this year and have been picked over quite thoroughly already.

Some have been frozen for a taste of summer later in the year and the rest made into blackberry and apple jelly with the added fruit a donation from the laden Bramley apple tree of a friend.

It’s lovely at this time of year to be sharing produce. It seems tricky to get bramble jelly right. Last year I overcooked it and produced one small jar of solid, chrystalline, but lovely tasting jam. This year I went the other way and had to put it all back in the pan to reboil and of course it is now a bit too thick again, but at least it is spreadable.

Blackberries are one of those joyous crops to grow in the garden or allotment, as they require little attention and always produce a good crop, as well as attracting numerous insects.

The only attention they need is round about now, once the berries have been picked. It is noticeable that at this time of year they are producing long stems of new growth; these will carry next year’s crop, so don’t be tempted to cut them back.

The ones that do need taking back are the stems carried this year’s fruit. These can all be taken back as far as possible, to the ground if there are plenty of new stems appearing at the base of the plant. Otherwise take the old branches back to a healthy new shoot.

Tie all remaining stems to the framework, tidy around the base of the plant then give it a good mulch of compost and handful of slow release fertiliser. Job done for another year apart from tying in new growth every now and again.

 

Gardening TV and radio

Tomorrow

7am, Monty Don’s Italian Gardens. Monty starts his horticultural tour in Rome.

8am, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Using ornamental grasses in a border.

8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.

8.30am, BBC2, The Beechgrove Garden. Autumn lawn care.

9am, BBC Radio York, Julia Lewis. News from North Yorkshires gardens and countryside.

9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.

2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. From RHS Whisley in Woking, Surrey.

Friday

3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. From Whitstable, Kent.

9.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Monty harvests produce at Longmeadow and Carol meets a wildlife enthusiast with a tiny garden.

 

Open day at nursery

Brunswick Organic Nursery and Craft Workshop is holding its annual open day on Saturday, September 6, from 11am-4pm at its site in Appleton Road in Bishopthorpe. There will be some free nearby parking and it is also accessible from the York to Selby cycle track.

Brunswick is a local charity running a productive workplace for adults with learning difficulties. The site has been developed over many years with help from a number of local organisations and volunteers and there is always something new to see.

The nursery stocks a wide range of ornamental plants including autumn flowering perennials, climbers and shrubs as well as fruit trees and bushes. There are often special offers to be had duringon the open day.

Homemade refreshments are on sale in the café while the shop stocks a good range of the nursery’s organic fruit and veg as well as other produce.

Hhand-woven rugs, handmade cards and recycled glass and bead jewellery will be displayed in the workshop.

Visitors can also get advice on growing organically and there will be plenty of entertainment and activities going on throughout the day.

 

• YOGA show A reminder that York Organic Gardeners Association (YOGA) will hold itstheir annual show today at Brunswick Organic Nursery in Bishopthorpe. The show is open to all organic gardeners, with exhibits being judged on flavour foremost and then appearance as a secondary . However, as a judge I would ask that the produce is washed, – freshly pulled carrots are delicious but not with soil still attached.

Entries need to be received between 10am andto midday, but allow a bit of time to set them up as the exhibition hall is closed for judging from midday to 2pm. After that time, there is the public viewing, followed by prize giving, with plenty of tasting as the show closes.

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