Gardening tips from Stone Cross Garden Centre

The experts at Stone Cross Garden Centre reveal why there is so much to love about these often overlooked bedding superstars.

Monday, 15th May 2017, 7:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 9:32 pm
Orange and white Gazania rigens aka Trailing Gazania flowers SUS-170604-101637001

May is a special and colourful time at the Garden Centre, everywhere you look there are plants coming to bud. Everything from the large blooms of Geraniums, the small delicate flowers of Alyssum, colourful shrubs, roses, acer trees and of course beautiful perennials. May is the month to transform your garden.

One plant that is often overlooked, but is a favourite, is the bedding plant Gazanias. The “Frosty Kiss Mix” have fabulous giant star shaped blooms. They are easy to grow, can be planted earlier than other bedding as they are half hardy, drought tolerant and even sturdy enough to stand up to summer rain. Growing upto ten inches in height with grey and green foliage they add interest to mixed bedding displays especially when planted with Lobelia, Begonias and Cineraria.

May is and extremely busy month in the garden. The warmer weather means lawns need mowing weekly, weeds outstrip the speed of your plants growth and everything needs, more watering. It is best to do this early in the morning and in the evening as the water can penetrate the soil and get down to the plants roots where it is needed most. Watering in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest means lots of the water is evaporated, plus you risk getting water on the leaves which magnifies the sunlight and can then burn leaving you with unsightly brown and black spots.

Ceanothus often known as the Californian Lilac. There are different forms from the low growing “thyrsiflorus var. repens” that grows just three feet with a spread of unto eight feet, to the tree form “Trewithen Blue” that grows upwards of twenty feet with a spread of twenty-five feet.

They are evergreen and mainly have green foliage. The size of the leaves vary depending on the variety. There is also the “thyrsiflorus El Dorado” variety that has variegated foliage. All Ceanothus are hardy, love sun and can withstand all but full coastal winds. The real party piece of Ceanothus is that they are smothered in blue flowers in May and June! There is an exception. Ceanothus “Autumnal Blue” waits until August before bursting into bloom and these flowers last well into October.


May often has us all trying to predict the weather. There is a temptation to get planting but be careful of late frosts that can kill tender bedding and vegetable plants. It is a good idea to keep some fleece and cloches on standby in case frost is predicted.

Black Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, yellow flowers

As for plants not to miss out on herbaceous perennials are fantastic plants that can really give that cottage feel. They brighten evergreen shrub borders and can be grown in front of hedges to bring them to life. A few stand out perennials to consider and will make a difference in your garden are:

Astilbe “Fanal” - wine red fluffy plumes held on stems above serrated green foliage. They thrive in boggy moist soil.

Lamprocapnos, known as Bleeding Heart offers dainty heart shaped flowers with small tear drop bases. Keep well watered but also perfect full sun or part shade.

Erysimum “Bowles Mauve” known as an Everlasting Wallflower. It is a long flowering perennial with vivid deep mauve flowers that is great in full sun or partial shade.

Also why not plant perennials for autumn colour:

Agapanthus or African Lily - strap-like foliage with large globe trumpet blooms - July into September. It is best grown in a pot as if the roots are not confined it rarely flowers.

Japanese Anemone, great for adding autumn colour. Masses of cup shaped flowers flower into October. They spread quickly forming specimen sized clumps.

Rudbeckia is my favourite autumn perennial offering an abundance of daisy-like flowers with yellow petals and a black central heart. Planted in large clumps they breathe life into even the dullest of autumn days.

Stone Cross Garden Centre, Dittons Road, Stone Cross, Pevensey.

This first featured in the May edition of etc Magazine pick up your copy now.