At this time of the year when the seasons are changing, the spring bulbs are now past their best and the summer flowers have not yet emerged, I like to turn to flowering shrubs to enhance my home . Flowering shrubs are so under rated as flowers for the home, this is because they are hardly available in the shops as cut flowers, but for a gardener they are so abundant and easily available it is really a pity to miss out on them. This week I chose the common lilac as my ‘Flower of the Week.’
Flower of the Week :
Botanical Name: Syringa . Common Name : Lilac.
The lilac bush is really easy to grow but most people are wary to plant a lilac bush as it reminds them of a tall straggly bush with a few flowers towering above their heads. This is because the lilac will grow to 3m plus if it is not kept in check. However, as the picture shows if it pruned every year in June after flowering, to around 1.5m, this will induce it to flower and the following spring it will flower profusely at approx. 1.8m. The strong fragrance will then drift through your garden heading straight for your nose!
I find the mauve varieties have a stronger scent than the white ones. Last week I placed a few twigs of lilac in a vase in my lounge and it saved us having to apply fragrant pledge spray on the woodwork! The lovely scent even rose to the first floor.
Planting and buying guide:
Although they prefer a more alkali soil they aren’t really fussy and will grow well in any soil. If you prefer to keep it as a lilac bush and not as a lilac hedge, it is advisable to take care to remove the suckers that often begin to surface around the main stem, I would leave those within 20cm radius of the stem but I would remove the more distant ones. If you are of the more experimental type, try to remove a sucker from a friend’s tree with a bit of root attached and plant it up in some good garden soil, if it is not one of the more modern cultivars that are grown on a rootstock it should breed true and you will now have a free lilac bush in your garden.
Small bushes are available at most garden centres; expect to pay around £4 for a 2 litre pot and £10 for a 3 litre pot.
Money saving tip:
If you are in need of a new set of garden shears or loppers, remember, it is worth buying good tools some cheap loppers are so weak and blunt they will not even be able to cut through a thin twig. The downside of buying strong tools is of course the cost, many of the better makes tend to charge a premium for their quality tools. However, if you live near a NETTO (which have recently sprung up near many Sainsbury’s Stores) they have a spot offer this week of Fiskars loppers and shears for a mere £18 when the average retail price is between £27 and £30.
Quite a snip!
Enjoy your gardening week!
Next week: ‘Buying Bedding Plants’ – don’t be caught out without our handy tips.