Easy Going plants

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This blog tells you a bit about plants that are widely available and require very little in the way of maintenance. They should all be a reliable presence in your garden for many years and serve as good foundation plants while your taste and garden style evolve. Considered in terms of one’s wardrobe they generally represent everyday wear rather than horticultural haute-couture. They are perfect for a novice gardener or one that has time limitations.

Three shrubs

The humble Euonymus fortunei. These are evergreens and come in many forms, mostly variegated. Two excellent examples are Emerald n Green and the silver edged  Emerald Gaiety.  These plants form attractive foliage mounds that can be trimmed to round or domed-shapes if needed. They form bright interludes in winter and some will climb if grown against a wall. They make good low-growing feature plants and could, for example, be set either side of steps. They should get by with the occasional trim but can be cut hard-back if they become too large.JOP 201702 easygoing1The coloured-stem dogwoods: Cornus alba, Cornus sanguinea, and Cornus sericea. They are primarily grown for the colour of their bare winter stems, but some have variegated foliage which makes them desirable all summer. Cornus alba ‘Spaethi’  has elegant green and yellow variegation while the green leaves of Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ have excellent autumn colour. Dogwoods need cutting to near ground level in spring to maximise their stem colour.

JOP 201702 easygoing2The affable spiraea in many varieties that includes the spectacular spring display of white flowers on the hearty Bridal-wreath Spiraea ‘Arguta’  which is managed with a simple annual prune. In addition there are a useful range of Spiraea japonica forms with domed heads of flowers that appear in July in red, pink and white shades. A number of them have stunning spring foliage in gold and copper shades such as Spiraea japonica ‘Goldflame’  The japonica forms only need a hard prune every few years to keep them compact.

JOP 201702 easygoing3Three herbaceous plants

Clump-forming geraniums such as Geranium x oxonianum forms flower profusely in summer. They generally produce flowers in shades of pink and purple. The bright pink flowers of Geranium x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink’ being a prime example. The clumps can be divided and distributed around the garden, perhaps in front of shrubs, to create a repetition that unifies the planting in your garden. Shear off the foliage and flowers when the plants become ragged and they will quickly regenerate and often re-flower. These robust plants can even hold their own in a wild garden, successfully competing with grass

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Bold crocosmia are an excellent choice in a sunny and open garden in warmer areas where their red and orange flowers blaze forth from mid to late summer. Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Carmin Brilliant’  is a sizzling ‘hot effect’ plant. It doesn’t need pruning but the dead collapsed foliage may be removed in winter.

Sedum spectabile and telephium varieties and Sedum Herbsfreude Group are tough and desirable plants that flower in late summer and autumn. Their domed-heads are in shades of pink and white. The purple foliage of Sedum telephium Atropurpureum Group ‘Purple Emperor’  makes a strong, colourful foliage contribution as well. The dead heads of sedum can be removed in autumn or left till spring if the architectural effect of the dead flower heads is appreciated.

And a climber

Clematis viticella and its forms flower with great freedom from mid to late summer going into autumn. They are hardy, vigorous, and more disease resistant than most forms. One handsome form is Clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’  with dusky red flowers and pronounced yellow stamens. The viticella clematis need hard-pruning in early spring but are otherwise left alone.

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All these plants can generally thrive without pest-control measures. They are, with the exception of crocosmia, hardy in most parts of the country. Herbaceous plants and the smaller shrubs can be moved to different parts of the garden as your needs change. In the generous tradition of the gardening community, excess or unwanted plants can be gifted to others.

Enjoy your garden.

Susan A. Tindall

Spring Foliage

maple-tree

Many plants have distinctive spring foliage, often appearing for a short period before the leaves mature and settle to their generally quieter summer shades. In some cases there is the bonus of a beautiful autumn display before leaf fall, so a single plant may have three distinct foliage colours.

The most dramatic large-scale spring colours are found on large trees. There are two notable examples: the first is the shrimp-leaved maple Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’ , while the second is a horse chestnut Aesculus x neglecta ‘Erythroblastos’ which also has a shrimp pink interlude that scores high on the wow factor scale. Neither of these have particularly beautiful summer foliage, but their visual effect in spring is so stunning they justify the ample space they will occupy when mature.

jop-201701-springfoliage1On a more modest scale, the Japanese maples often combine their brilliant autumn tints with striking spring foliage. Acer palmatum ‘Corrallinum’ resembles a large helping of candy floss when the leaves open, while Acer palmatum ‘Kamagata’ has deep red foliage in spring, is light green in summer and turns orange and yellow in autumn. The rare Chinese Cedar Flamingo is a brilliant and improbable pink shade in spring and follows this show with fragrant white flowers in early summer. The amelanchiers such as Amelanchier lamarckii briefly display young leaves coloured in red, copper or bronze shades in addition to heavenly white flowers and autumn tints.

 

jop-201701-springfoliage2A number of shrubs have beautiful spring foliage, perhaps the best example being varieties of the compact Spiraea japonica, including the red and gold foliage of Spiraea japonica ‘Goldflame’. The large warm yellow of the lilac Syringa vulgaris ‘Aurea’ makes a strong yet gentle contribution to the spring garden. For a long season of interest that goes into summer, the popular photinia forms exhibit large young leaves that are coloured bright red, Photinia x fraseri ‘Little Red Robin’ being a good example.jop-201701-springfoliage3A number of herbaceous plants surprise with their spring foliage and these include the eye-catching lobed lemon yellow leaves of Valeriana phu ‘Aurea’  and the vibrant yellow of hearty Geranium Patricia  ‘Brempat’  that follows with an all-summer show of dark-eyed magenta flowers. Many hostas have yellow spring foliage and their large unfurling leaves have a beauty all their own. Hosta ‘Sharmon’ combines leaves that are largely creamy yellow in spring with grey summer tones, a beautiful foil for the lavender grey flowers. The spring foliage of the modest woodland Epimediums have a subtle beauty all their own, often having mottled foliage, while Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’  is bronze or purple in spring with tiny purple dancing flowers.

jop-201701-springfoliage4Finally, even the quiet ferns can have a surprising spring fling with the copper young foliage of architectural Dryopteris erythrosora var. prolifica . The aristocratic Adiantum aleuticum ‘Japonicum’ has exotic red-brown young fronds and then settles to a summer of green beauty.

jop-201701-springfoliage5Add a new dimension to your garden with some ‘colour-changing’ plants!

Susan A Tindell at Joy of Plants

 

 

Light and Moisture in the garden

 

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Light

The different areas of any garden will receive variable amounts of light, so some may be largely sunny while others are in shade for a large part of the day. Most plants do well in full or part shade. A few are adapted to bright and generally dry conditions or wet and boggy places. Such plants only achieve their full potential when placed in the right environment.

In some plants their flowers only open in sunshine and with others their stems become longer and the whole plant leans towards the light. To enjoy these special sunshine plants choose the very sunniest parts of the garden to display them to perfection and relish their often bright flowers. Examples include the sumptuous, generally blue or mauve globes of agapanthus, the brilliant daisy flowers of Arctotis and Gazania that are lovely when baked in sunshine. Try the voluptuous Arctotis ‘Zulu Prince’ . In sunny gardens lavenders can reign supreme and epitomize the dreamy days of summer. French lavenders always add an exotic touch, an example being Lavandula stoechas subsp. 

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Plants that do best in partly or fully shaded positions often have large succulent leaves or foliage that can become scorched if positioned in sunshine. These plants contribute to a garden that has a cool, lush feel, creating a garden that soothes rather than excites the senses. Many hostas belong to this group including the classic Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ , so do the delicate, aristocratic painted ferns such as Athyrium niponicum var. In addition plants that naturally grow in woodlands have their season of beauty in spring sunlight, before being shaded by the foliage of deciduous trees. Such woodland plants often have an enchantment all their own, an example being the lovely Uvularia grandiflora and some of the less common epimedium such as Epimedium franchettii ‘Brimstone Butterfly’  with its delicate dancing flowers.

dec-2-jopMoisture

Light and moisture in the soil often go together. The brightest parts of the garden are often the driest while shadier parts generally retain moisture. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule – the base of walls can be extremely dry and some larger plants take a good deal of moisture from the soil. Once you understand your garden you will quickly pick out those areas that need more or less watering in dry periods.

Permanently wet areas are a great asset if you choose plants that like bog gardens. For example the kingcup Caltha palustris with its golden spring flowers. For foliage interest the umbrella plant Darmera peltata  has handsome leaves all summer through followed by autumn colour. For something different ‘pitcher plants’ such as Sarracenia purpurea could be a distinctive choice.

dec-3-jopA few plants need dry conditions to thrive. These include the charming Moroccan daisies such as Rhodanthemum ‘Casablanca’ (African Daisy Series) and the curious giant bromeliad Fascicularia bicolour, and members of the broom family such as Cytisus scoparius . The sun-loving plants mentioned earlier enjoy dry conditions.

dec-4-jopIt is well worth looking at the light and moisture requirements of your plants and matching these to similar conditions in your garden. Plants that are happy perform better and do credit to your judgement and artistry.

Enjoy!

Susan A. Tindall

Planting Containers

container-arrangement

 

Evergreen plants that you retain in pots can provide a solid framework for the transient plants that are grown for the summer as well as giving interest in winter. Good examples of such plants include the shiny solid evergreen Skimmia, for example Skimmia japonica subsp. Reevesiana with its red autumnal berries, though this needs acid soil and is often grown as a throwaway. Dwarf nandinas such as Nandina domestica ‘Fire Power’  have coloured foliage for year-round interest and are slow-growing. Variegated Euonymus fortunei forms such as Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’  are cheap and always cheerful, top-notch container plants. Finally, the bay laurel Laurus nobilis can be pruned like topiary and its leaves can be used in cooking. A true container classic.

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Why plant in containers?

  • To add style to outdoor spaces or seating areas.
  • To grow plants in soil that suit their needs, either
  • because of poor or almost non-existent soil in some new builds
  • a different soil type is needed such as ericaceous compost
  • to give respite care to plants that have failed in the garden before trying them in another position
  • To enable plants to be taken under cover in winter. For example some plants that are treated as annuals are tender perennials and will survive if wintered in a frost free environment. This applies to Pelargoniums (often treated as annuals), such as Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’ (link 
  • To readily move plants to different locations, perhaps when their season of floral beauty has finished.
  • To grow plants you can take with you when you move.

Choosing containers

Harmonise your pots. If you have a number of containers the design effect is improved if they are visually united by a shared characteristic. They may all be earthenware, or have the same colour, e.g. blue, or have a similar shape or style.

Movability and cost

Traditional earthenware or terracotta pots develop character with age, but they can be difficult to move. When buying a pot consider its eventual weight when filled with compost and a plant. Really large containers are best not moved, and are best planted in situ. Consider pots where removable containers can be inserted for changeable seasonal plantings. Otherwise nurture accommodating friends with muscle power! There is an ever increasing range of synthetic pots that have simulated stone or metal finishes which are very light.

Container shapes

Consider the type of plant that you want to grow. There are ‘throwaway’ and permanent plants. Throwaways are plants that are discarded after a short period. Typical throwaways include autumn flowering ‘garden mums’ such as Chrysanthemum ‘Showmaker Foxtrot’ , or in spring ‘Senetti’ like Pericallis x hybrida Senetti Deep Blue , as well as summer annuals.

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If you are growing ‘permanent’ plants which should last for years it is often desirable to ‘move them on’ to bigger receptacles when they outgrow their pots. In this case, avoid containers that curve inwards at the top or which have a rounded centre, since it can be almost impossible to extract plants without damaging them.

Preparing your pot

There should be drainage holes in the pot’s base. This can be protected with a stone or broken crock, or consider fine plastic mesh or even perforated zinc. In this case not only is the earth kept in but small slugs and woodlice will be unable to set up house in the pot bottom.

For all but the smallest pots it pays to put in a layer or stones or pebbles in the base to facilitate drainage. Otherwise water can linger in sodden soil and plant roots can rot.

Use good quality compost and allow for around 3 centimetres of space all round the existing root ball when selecting your pot.

The compost should finish a few centimetres below the pot rim. The surface can be left as earth or covered with pebbles, gravel or slate chips. This prevents moderately fierce applications of water from blasting holes in the compost, or spattering unsightly blobs of earth onto the foliage.

Maintenance

Potted plants need watering regularly, daily in hot weather. Acid-loving plants need soft water (rainwater) so consider a water butt.

The nutrients in the containerised soil will be used up in weeks. It will be necessary to feed your plants, slow-release fertilisers being easiest. With feeding and pruning, some plants can be left in the same container for years. However, buying ‘small’ plants and exercising patience can be a good way to eventually obtain specimen plants at a fraction of the cost.

Some plants will lean towards the light and develop an ungainly lean, or get leggy, so it may be necessary to turn or move pots at intervals.

Thank you to our friends at Joy of Plants for their knowledge.

Written by Susan A Tindell

The Evening Garden

Evening Sunshine And Flowers In The Garden

After the stresses and tension of the day, taking time to relax, even contemplate, is soothing and beneficial. Taking time out to simply sit in one’s garden can regenerate one’s being and may introduce a new dimension to your life. The evening garden is stripped of the babble of bright colour – everything is simplified, and among the shadows the colour white can softly remain, sometimes almost luminous in its quality of light. With vision limited, elusive scents can emerge to engage and entice the least indulged of our senses.

The effect of fragrance is best when held in a space that is sheltered from strong breezes. If there are warm, heat-retaining south or west facing walls that nurture plants the effect of scent can be intensified still further. Plants with evening and night fragrance can be selected to take you through from late spring to autumn. Some plants are compact enough to grow in containers on the patio, or may be robust like a honeysuckle that can be trained to climb over an arch and envelop a seat with its exquisite fragrance. The following are suggestions, among other possibilities.

In May the popular ‘Mexican Orange Blossom’ is fragrant both in the day and evening. The species eventually grows to be a large shrub, but Choisya ternata Snow Flurries is more compact and could be grown in a large container. The fragrance is sweet and the shrub itself, being evergreen, is attractive all year round. On a modest scale, the herbaceous lily of the valley Convallaria majalis with tiny bell-flowers has exceptional fragrance and can be grown in a container or tucked into shady corners and left to naturalise.

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There are a good number of summer flowering plants that have evening fragrance. The classic is the honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum and its forms, including the compact shrubby Lonicera periclymenum ‘Honeybush’ which only reaches around half a metre in height.

Classic cottage garden plants often have evening or night fragrance. These include the lanky common Evening Primrose Oenothera biennis with flowers that briefly appear luminous in the dusk, the delicious Sweet Rocket, including the white flowered form, Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora ,and finally the Tobacco plant, which is available in compact varieties suitable for containers, as well as 1.2 metre high white Nicotiana alata with its sweet heavy fragrance that hangs in the air.

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If climbing plants can be included in your garden the frost-tender Jasminum polyanthum has an intense and heady fragrance. It can be hard pruned in autumn and kept in a conservatory for winter. In sheltered gardens with warm walls the Star Jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides  entices all with the fragrance of its numerous four-petalled white flowers.

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In late summer and early autumn the herbaceous Phlox paniculata forms make a contribution. Continuing the white-flowered theme try Phlox paniculata ‘White Admiral’  followed by the later flowering Phlox paniculata ‘Mount Fuji’  to extend the season of interest. Surprisingly there is a late season fragrant hosta especially scented at night, so seek out Hosta plantaginea. The frost-tender willow-leaved Jessamine, Cestrum parqui  has a sweet fruity fragrance at night. This can be kept in a container and brought under cover for winter.

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If there is room, the magnificent oak-leaved hydrangeas provide excellent autumn colour and have domed heads of flowers with a fragrance described as being ‘clean, sweet’. A compact form of this excellent species is Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’.And given space, the highly poisonous, frost-tender, 4 metres high Datura forms have exceptional scent, for example Brugmansia x candida ‘Blush’ which has enormous dangling trumpet flowers and enthrals all with its magnificence!

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Written by Susan A Tindall from Joy of Plants

Ravishing reds

Deep red flowers have a distinction and quality all their own. There are surprisingly few flowers that have an unadulterated red hue. Red shades vary from the delectable purple and plum hues to the ‘in your face’ vermilion hues that have a touch of yellow in their make-up. The clear reds are best in a simple setting rather than in a crowd that babbles with colour. Green foliage complements red and assists the strong statement that rich red makes. You don’t want too many flowers of this colour at the same time. An excess of prima-donnas can destroy the party! The shade of red takes centre-stage with glorious flowers, often for a short time. Plan for a succession of these reds to provide intense colour hits for the different seasons.

In March the small anemone coronaria forms provide fresh clear colours in blue, white and mauve as well as a scarlet, for example, Anemone coronaria De Caen Group ‘ Harmony Scarlet’ (Harmony Series). Grow a container filled with this plant to maximise impact or plant a patch in your garden, perhaps in the spot where the dramatic oriental poppy will later flourish.

JOP 201606 clearreds1 The oriental poppies are in flower during late May and June. Papaver orientale Goliath Group is perhaps the ultimate red statement. The huge scarlet flowers with papery petals, a bold black heart and black basal blotch can dominate any garden with their assertive floral beauty. They take up a fair amount of space and, after flowering collapse gracelessly. The classic trick used by clever gardeners is to plant Gypsophila paniculata behind it so that its foam of white flowers covers the declining poppy foliage.

To continue the theme through summer there are some stunning roses such as the double flowers of Rosa The Times Rose = ‘Korpeahn’ or the single blooms of Rosa ‘Frensham’  both of which repeat flower well. On the patio, a container or two of begonias such as one of the non-stop series, specifically Begonia (Nonstop Series) ‘Nonstop Deep Red’ with its lush green foliage.

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Later in the summer there can be high drama with an exotic Canna such as Canna ‘Brilliant’ or the glow from a group of herbaceous plants such as the columnar flowers of late summer lobelia. For example Lobelia x speciosa (Fan Series) ‘Fan Scharlach’  or the bold trumpets of white-throated Penstemon ‘Rubicundus’.

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Certain dahlias can provide exceptional interest with their combination of near-black foliage and red flowers; grown in a group they provide a powerfully coloured feature. There is a single flowered favourite called Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llanduff’  or the double flowers of Dahlia ‘Grenadier’. These will provide interest in late summer and autumn. Dahlias are often treated as annuals, but the tubers can be dug up and kept in a frost-free environment over winter, and replanted the following year.

Finally, end the season with the biggest colour hit of all with the autumn foliage of Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’. Ravishing in autumn and needing a warm sheltered spot, it will earn its keep all year through with its elegant framework and beautiful foliage.

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Images from Joy of Plants

Written by Joy A Tindell (Joy of Plants)

 

The grass can be greener (or purple or silver)

For some grass is purely seen as a way of filling a garden with a lawn to be mowed during the summer. Easier to maintain than a bed and great for playing children and pets. However grasses can be used for a much greater impact if used in the correct way.

Grasses can be beautiful, rippling in the breeze, being caught by the sunlight glinting and shining. A colony of the same grass has unity and texture and is very satisfying on the eye. Grasses are pretty steady, many of the coloured flower heads turn silver with age and remain beautiful for months. Some of the taller grasses can be used as a garden feature, a vertical growth is strongly architectural. Sweeping shapes can be created with arching or bending stem forms. Most grasses require minimal maintenance with just an annual cutback in spring.

The following are a selection of medium to tall grasses which are very garden-worthy.

For glittering seed heads the magnificent Stipa gigantea takes some beating. The seed heads spangle gold in sunlight and shift in the merest breeze. It’s a plant for a focal point that reaches 2 metres when in flower. For a more subtle effect, Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Transparent’ stands at 2 metres with seed heads held on long slender stalks, often scarcely visible, shifting and moving, and often, as the name suggests, virtually transparent. Plant in front of other plants so you can peer through the moving stems.

For arching foliage that can appear to ripple in the breeze try Stipa arundinacea, now often sold as Anemanthele lessoniana which also changes colour through the seasons, from spring green to orange and brown. The soft green foliage of Panicum virgatum ‘Hanse Herms’ turning red and burgundy in autumn, has foliage that sweeps downward.

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For a colony to provide unity and texture try Stipa tenuissima ‘Pony Tails’, good in both dreamy cottage gardens and crisp urban ones. This will self-seed and complements many other plants, especially mounded geraniums.

For dainty seedheads on a compact plant at 0.9 metres the arching hummocks of Pennisetum massaicum ‘Red Buttons’, with its small red flowers are a summer delight, while the showy silvered bottlebrushes of Pennisetum orientale ‘Tall Tails’ combine well with autumnal daisies.

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The strong vertical line is beautifully represented by Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (pid2550). Rigid and upright to 2 metres, it is best grown in a group or row, and is dramatic when viewed against the light in winter. For something smaller but equally starched shirt in its effect the 1.2 metres Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea ‘Moorhexe’ turns golden in the autumn.

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Available in huge variety the Chinese silver grass, Miscanthus sinensis and its forms, are popular with a good range of growth habits. A small form, at three-quarters of a metre, is gracefully arching. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Vorlaufer’, with pink-purple flower heads. Far taller, standing over 2 metres, is Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus ‘Cosmopolitan’ with broad striped leaves and beige-plum plumes of flowers, handsome enough to be used as a specimen plant. Slender leafed forms include the smart-looking Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’  at 1.5 metres and a form with a cascading growth habit, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’

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Helped using the knowledge of Susan A. Tindell from Joy of Plants

A selection of grasses can be found at selected Roys stores and Highway Garden and Lesiure.

Homegrown bedding plants

HIGHWAY-GREENHOUSE

It is that wonderful time of year where the sun has finally shown his face again, the grass needs mowing and the fledglings are taking their first flights. The time when you want to spend more time in your garden making it look perfect for the summer season.

Bedding plants are the perfect way to add a splash of colour to a garden of any size, from borders to window boxes. Whatever colour scheme you desire, you can be as pedantic or as chaotic as you choose.

Roys source all bedding plants from their own nurseries based at Highway Garden and Leisure in Norfolk. The plants are cared for by a dedicated team and hand watered to make sure they receive all the attention they require.

If citrus tones are to your liking then Marigold Taishan or Durango, Begonia Illumination orange or Geranium Fantasia orange are to name just a few.

Begonia Illumination
Geranium Fantasia

For more feminine pink tones there are beautiful Begonia mocca pink,  Fuschia Southern Belles Cecil and Calabrochoca Cabaret hot pink.

Begonia mocca pink
Begonia Mocca Pink 

Whatever space you have, colour you choose or flowers you favour then you have Roys word that the plants have been cared for to give you the best result.

Bedding plants can be bought from all Roys stores and can be found in Highway Garden and Leisure greenhouse.

For any enquiries please call Roys of Wroxham on 01603 782131.

www.roys.co.uk

http://www.highwaygardenandleisure.co.uk/