Pretty polyanthus will lift winter blues

Polyanthus will come through a hard winter better than pansies.
Polyanthus will come through a hard winter better than pansies.
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I have been reducing the height of a Leylandii hedge because it is too high at 14 feet, but I find it difficult to cut the top.

I thought it would be a good idea to cut it down to seven feet, but my wife Pam nearly had a fit because we would be invaded by weed seeds from next doors’ overgrown garden.

We came to a compromise. I am just taking off four feet.

We do have the gear, an excellent electric chain saw, long-armed loppers and a proper pruning saw. All the side branches are sawn off and thrown down to the bog-like lawn and then taken up the garden to the paved area and cut up ready for the recycling centre. I am cutting back three or four each day and by this time next week the job will be complete.

Sadly the summer flowering plants in the containers have now been damaged by frosts here at Waterlooville and we have to remove all the plants so that the spring flowering plants can be planted. We have decided to grow polyanthus because they are so reliable.

I thought about the awful weather last winter when we had all that snow. Most of the spring bedding looked dreadful for more than six weeks and to be honest I thought a lot of plants had died, in particular the winter-flowering pansies.

Instead of blooming they shrivelled into tiny crowns, hardly visible. Surprisingly they did pick up a bit later on. The amazing polyanthus (pictured) sprang back into bloom two weeks after the snow disappeared and although the carpet of colour didn’t arrive until the last few days of winter there were a few blooms every day.

So, a visit to the garden centre was a treat. They had trays of polyanthus either as mixed or single colours. As you can guess, we chose single colours.

During the winter a few flowers are very welcome and whites, yellows, golds and reds reflect the rare glimpses of sun. So we chose bright red with yellow. The red ones are planted on the outside of each container with the yellows in the centre.

Why didn’t I include blue? Blue is a recessive, cold colour. Blue looks wonderful during the summer because it cools down the hot season, but if spring is cold and wet there will be an inspiring display of gold, yellows and reds in your spring displays.

I wonder if you have found that winter-flowering pansies have let you down because of the bad winters, or perhaps your garden is very wet?

Polyanthus, like all members of the primrose family, grow well in wet soil. Just picture primroses growing on the banks of streams.