Lovely Lavatera

Classic, fresh plant

by Colour Your Life • Friday July 6, 2012

Get ready for summer fun this July with the help of a classic, yet always fresh plant - Lavatera. Popular name mallow, it’s a fantastic, floriferous shrub that grows quickly and vigorously. An established specimen may put on thousands of flowers, each one of which is a delight to the eye and a draw for bees and other beneficial insects. This characteristic makes it popular with children or the child in all of us! Who doesn’t want to do their bit to help our friends the bees – we’d be in trouble without them.

Mallow maintenance
Mallows are true sun-worshippers and also thrive in drier soils. Once established they are happy in droughty conditions (but keep them watered as they settle in). Drought tolerance cuts down on the worry of watering, especially if you’re going away and contributes to their credentials as ‘sustainable’ plants for today’s gardens.

Another tick in the box for sustainability is that because they attract beneficial insects, they are a great companion plant to grow with roses. As well as complementing the fabulous blooms, their power to bring in beneficial insects will help to invite natural pest control into your garden.

Sorts of Lavateras
There are some real favourites in the Lavatera stable, thinking of Lavatera x clementii ‘Barnsley’ or ‘Rosea’ (both Award of Garden Merit plants). The flowers of ‘Barnsley’ are white with red eyes, ‘Rosea’s’ are dark pink. The evocatively named Lavatera ‘Burgundy Wine’ flowers profusely and bears dark pink flowers.

‘Kew Rose’ is another winner, bearing loads of flowers right through the summer, in this case bright pink. Each of these will reach a height and spread of 2m in suitable conditions and the gorgeous flowers are all a similar size at approximately 7cm across.

Excellent beginners plant
Lavatera is an excellent beginners plant, making it a good housewarming or, retirement gift (for someone who’s never had time to do much gardening) or even something to encourage a child’s interest. The vigorous growth and copious flowering is very rewarding and the fact that hard pruning in early spring will be rewarded by vigorous new growth and even more flowers in the coming summer will help a novice to get their confidence with the pruning shears.

Mix between refuge and entertainment
If you’ve got school-aged children anywhere near you’ll need no reminding that school breaks up for the long hols this month. With this in mind, the garden can serve as both a refuge and a destination for entertainment, depending on your own priorities. Buying and planting flowering shrubs is a fun activity in its own right and will deliver instant results and brighten any border. With options on offer like Lavatera, what are you waiting for?

Seasonal highlights
Now’s the time to make the most of long warm evenings and balmy summer days to get some relaxing enjoyment from your garden as a living and entertaining space. The hard work’s been done – make sure you take the chance to sit back and enjoy!

Got friends coming at the weekend? The patio looking a little dull? Then why not give things a little makeover with some pots and containers? If you’re short of time, most garden centres will provide these ready-planted so you can have instant enjoyment from the moment you get them home.

Badminton, swing ball, a spot of (dare I mention it) football, putting, croquet – it doesn’t matter. The garden is a great play space and playing games is quite simply the best use of time that was ever invented. If you’ve got children then a paddling pool is a must. If you haven’t, then why not try a paddling pool anyway – you’re sure to love it!

Did you know?
The Romans ate the leaves and seeds of Lavatera. The tradition of eating the seeds of Lavatera persists in some districts, for example parts of Norfolk, where they are known as ‘pick cheeses’. For most of us nowadays, the lovely flowers make Lavatera a ‘must have’ for any garden.  

 

 

 

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