Our columnist Jackie Bynes, author of Earthly Fairyland – the story of Southsea Rock Garden, looks back over the year
BACK in February I wrote about the early spring we experienced in Southsea Rock Garden, with many bulbs coming into bloom several weeks ahead of their expected time.
April was cold, followed by a rainy May which greatly benefited our dry, well-drained soil.
Many of the shrubs have put on a huge amount of growth and look very healthy.
June and July were amazingly colourful months in the garden – drawing appreciative comments from Rock Garden visitors, which has pleased the gardening staff and volunteers.
One of our garden stars, echium pininana, from the Canary Isles, bloomed early, with several reaching up to 10ft.
Osteospermum, Cape Daisy, with its candy pink flowers, were a sight to see spreading across the rocks.
Another eye-catching plant which did well were the alliums, with their distinctive globular purple flower heads.
My own particular summer favourite, which did not disappoint this year, is the canary-yellow genista aetnensis, known as Mount Etna Broom.
During late June and throughout much of July, two of them shone out along Clarence Esplanade, scenting the air for passers-by.
Why not make a note in next year’s diary to take a walk down to the Rock Garden at the end of June to enjoy their vivid beauty?
Another late-summer into autumn delight, especially with bees, is our perovskia, Russian Sage, with its tiny violet-blue flowers giving off a lemony scent.
September and October will see interesting berries and seed heads forming, along with good leaf colour.
In late autumn we will be planting up a special bed close to Rocksby’s cafe.
It will feature plants which enjoy a well-drained, sunny, maritime situation.
In addition, a selection of new shrubs and perennials will be planted during the autumn throughout the main garden to widen the range and interest for residents and visitors in the years ahead.
Watch out as well for a new entrance arch being erected on the promenade side of the garden – designed to encourage strollers along the promenade to go into the garden.
Our bird population continues to expand – volunteers tell me that they have seen a green woodpecker feeding on a spiky yucca plant.
Wrens, robins, blackbirds, chaffinches and various tits all frequent the garden and certainly add to the enjoyment of a wander in the garden.