Gardeners’ Corner: Preparing summer bedding in Derry

It’s that time of year again when we start to think about Summer bedding plants. Soon, the shelves will be full of all our favourite varieties and, although it’s still a bit too early, we will begin bringing in our range this week too in Springrowth Garden Centre.

By Cyril Quinn
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 10:57 am

The reason I say it’s still a bit early is because it’s still too cold and there’s still a good chance of frost and biting winds.

Anyone looking for a quick blast of colour to spruce up the house for selling or for a party or wedding, there is always the option of hardier Spring plants such as Pansy, Viola, Bellis Daisy and Primroses which will provide plenty of colour, will withstand colder temperatures and will flower for another few months. There is still some available and can fill the gap until the Summer bedding is ready.

Mrs McMinn at Ness Nurseries always used to say ‘don’t cast a clout ‘til May is out’ because there’s always a chance of frost throughout the month of May. But all we can do is advise, so if anyone is buying this early on, be warned and keep your bedding plants in a greenhouse, conservatory or porch overnight. This also means that planting flower beds directly into the ground wouldn’t be advisable, whereas planters, pots and baskets can be brought inside.

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Geranium flowers on shelves in the store

I learned most of what I know about bedding plants from Stanley McMinn at Ness Nurseries. Like his wife Roberta, he was a wealth of knowledge. We sowed our own seed, ‘pricked out’ the seedlings, and grew them on for sale. We began sowing our seeds in February and sowed in stages so we would have plants good to go from the beginning of May. It was a very busy time of year and also very enjoyable.

Every now and then, when he showed me something new Stanley would say ‘they didn’t teach you that at school.’

Back then, we grew a massive range of bedding. Some of these varieties are hard to get nowadays, I think growers stopped producing some of them because they’ve become less popular such as Nemesia, Stocks and Sweet William. But every year new varieties appear to replace the ones we’ve lost. Our most popular sellers would be trailing plants for hanging baskets and pots, such as surfinias, trailing lobelia, trailing geraniums and fuchsias. Best sellers of upright varieties for flower beds and pots and planters would be upright Lobelia, Marigolds, Petunias, Geraniums, Salvia and Impatiens (Busy Lizzies).

Summer bedding plants can give you most beautiful displays as long as they are looked after properly. This means making sure they are watered and fed, a rule of thumb would be to keep the soil or compost around them damp and feed them with a high potassium feed (such as tomato food) as this helps promote fruit and flowers.

Cyril and Alison Quinn, proprietors of the Springrowth Landscape and Garden Centre, Springtown Industrial Estate. DER2115GS – 028

Don’t overplant, give them space to let air circulate to reduce risk of fungal diseases. And also remember to protect them from pests such as slugs, snails and aphids.

So, here’s to looking forward to a busy season full of colour and joy and don’t forget, any questions regarding any of the topics we cover can be answered by our helpful garden centre staff here at Springrowth Garden Centre.