The purpose of this index is to offer amateur gardeners in the north east of Scotland some knowledge of plants and shrubs which will survive and flourish in our cooler climate.
You only have to visit a garden centre in early Spring for the confusion to begin. The half-hardy annuals even in the month of March will have made their appearance, tempting you to part with your cash. Don’t fall for it, ignore the Petunias, Impatiens, and begonias. If you do not have a greenhouse they simply will not survive, and if you do have one, heating of some form is essential. Best time to buy these annual seedlings or plug plants is on the 1st or second week in April. Pot them up or place them in seed trays 15/20 per tray. Wait until the end of May or even early June before planting them out in the garden.
Now don’t get me wrong there are thousands of plants and shrubs which absolutely thrive in our climate, however once again take care at the garden centres. For instance Magnolias at this time of year look very tempting, the truth is very few of them perform well in Aberdeen, look out for one which I do see in many gardens flourishing very well (Stellata) masses of pure white starry flowers, mind you in our frost pocket garden even this one is hopeless. Then there’s the climber Wisteria, once again a bit dodgy unless you have a very sheltered site. Also look out for Callistemon (bottle brush plant) looks great on the display bench, this one only has a 5% chance of coming through our winter even if placed in what seems the most ideal of positions.
Let’s get back to the deciduous shrub Azalea Luteum with it’s sweet perfume is very much a favourite of my wife Myra’s.
The yellow funnel-shaped flowers smother the shrub May/June. Positioned in partial shade or full sun Luteum will give of its best, acid soil is essential, should be fine if you add loads of ericaceous compost when planting, also apply a mulch of this around the base each Spring. Another special feature apart from the perfume is, the mid-green leaves take on vivid bonfire shades in Autumn. The shrub in our garden has been in this situation for five years, flowers well every year and is now four feet tall. Further information suggests Luteum will reach a final height of 4 meters, I have my doubts, so don’t let this put you off.
Position – Partial shade/Full sun
Hardiness – Fully hardy
Soil – Moist well drained humus rich acid soil