A Moseley Garden: July

Thursday, 4th August 2016

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Rudbeckia 045
Rudbeckia 045

July can be a really colourful and varied time in the garden but it has to be planned and planted that way. We are lucky here in that most Moseley gardens seem to have a full and vibrant spring palate running into early summer with crocus, daffodils and cherry blossom followed by a glut of bluebells and forget-me-nots.

Next it’s on to lilac, wisteria, rhododendron, wallflowers and foxgloves. The trouble is that the early burst doesn’t last long enough and in our next time slot from late June through to September we are faced with a wall of green foliage which unless tackled can dominate our garden vistas. Clearly this green screen is made more imposing by the rampant new growth made by trees and shrubs in the June sunshine, especially as this year, when the high UV levels and long days are coupled with higher than average rain fall.

Clearly we can all go and buy plants to fill the gaps and give us the colour we crave. You don’t need me to tell you that. However I do advise to think about one or two plants which do fill that gap very nicely using the colour of red either in foliage or in flower. These few suggestions really stand out against the green back cloth. I also know from experience that they thrive in Moseley soil.

Cotinus Coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ is a lush deciduous shrub which accents the green borders perfectly. Commonly Cotinus is known as the ‘Smoke Bush’ because of its unusual flower which from a distance looks not unlike a puff of smoke. But it’s the shrub’s foliage which is so striking, almost radiant in sunlight like a good glass of claret. They can grow to be eight feet or more and work well in most conditions particularly if you are lucky enough to have a large garden that can accommodate two or three planted in different positions. The same effect can be had by planting Acer Palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ which also shares this almost luminous port coloured foliage.

Another stunner, which I always view with envy on Oxford Road (halfway down on the left coming out of Moseley) is the clump forming  bulbous Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ with unique blood red inflorescences – groups of small flowers arranged on horizontal stem. They are the same plant group as the smaller and less attractive common orange flowering Montbretia. Unlike its cousin though ‘C. Lucifer’ grows in clumps and doesn’t self-seed so rampantly. Keep your eye out for it in July.

Finally, continuing with the red theme try planting Rudbekias Hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’ or as shown  R.’Gloriosa daisy’ or classic red Zonal Pelargoniums (Geraniums) which although they are half hardy perennials can be brought as annuals from nurseries such as Bournville Garden Centre.

The trick is to provide good colour contrast to the mass of green dominating our gardens. Red foliage and flowers are so very good at doing that job.