Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Add color to a greenhouse

There are many steps keen gardening enthusiasts can take in order to introduce a little color into their greenhouses.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph across the pond in the UK, celebrated landscape architect Bunny Guinness said that tender perennials are often a strong choice for this purpose. She explained that the species is very good at surviving in a diverse range of conditions.

For instance, the roseleaf sage is characterised by dark pink leaves. It has the binominal name of salvia involucrata and is native to the Mexican states of Puebla, Tamaulipas and Veracruz.

Salvia Indigo Spires – which are a hybrid that is made from a cross between the S. longispicata and S. farinacea – is also praised for putting on a good show, no matter what the climate conditions put them through.

This particular hybrid has an unusual history, having been discovered under its presumed parents almost by chance at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Following this occasion, it was formally introduced into the horticultural world in 1979.

It is clearly identifiable by its rich violet flowers that are packed in very tightly into whorls. Its spike-like inflorescences can reach anywhere between 25 cm to 30 cm.

Ms Guinness added that they will really feel the benefits of being relocated to a greenhouse over winter, as this will protect them from the frost and other debilitating issues presented by the colder season.

She added that they can be best preserved by taking cuttings between now and late August to overwinter as mini plants. Provided they are kept relatively dry, no problems should be presented.

Jamaica Primrose were also proffered as another colorful option for gardeners. It is a cultivar of the dill daisy or Marguerite daisy – binominally known as Argyranthemum. The species is an evergreen woody-based perennial or sub-shrub and has leaves that are either simple or pinnately dissected. The flower heads blossom from late spring until as late as autumn.

The Jamaica Primrose variety of the species is a vigorous sub-shrub that can grow to heights of up to one meter tall. It has primrose yellow rays surrounding a disc of a deeper shade of the color. The leaves are divided, rich and green – with long-stalked single daisies growing to lengths of around six cm across.

Indeed, they can grow relatively fast, as Ms Guinness said that she stole some cuttings from her mum on the last day of April – and they have already reached 60 cm in height and are looking particularly bushy.

"Gardeners always want color," the expert commented, adding: "A good way to pep up planting is to inject tallish flowering plants that have naked stems."

She said that the planting of many tall and leafless stems of perennials and colorful bulbs look very good if they are dotted haphazardly through a lower storey of grasses and various other forms of foliage.

"The naked stems are useful as they impart an airy feel and they allow different plants to mingle closer together. I am busy propagating up more of these useful types, such as Verbena bonariensis," Ms Guinness said.

This plant is a member of the verbena family and it is native to tropical South America. Here, it grows prolifically in most of the warmest regions – from Argentina and Chile to Colombia and Brazil.

"Thalictrum delavayi, just flowering, has branching sprays of tiny lavender flowers and fine almost fuzzy foliage. It is beautifully diaphanous even though it can grow 1.5 meters high," Ms Guinness recommended.

"Dianthus carthusianorum has intense magenta flowers. It grows to about 50 cm and its grass-type foliage is a plus. Regular deadheading will keep it blooming from July to September at least," the expert continued.