Avens Geum For border and rock garden

These hardy herbaceous perennials merit space in your garden because of their bright flowers, which appear early and are produced throughout the summer. They are easy to grow and need a minimum of care.

ANNUAL CALENDAR

SPRING

March:

Good time for planting. Lift and divide plants.

Sow seed.

April:

Feed plants. Lift and divide plants.

May: Provide support for taller kinds.

SUMMER

June-August:

Water plants if soil starts to dry out.

Remove dead flower stems.

Transfer plants grown from seeds sown in spring to a nursery bed outside. Detach and plant runners where these occur.

AUTUMN

October:

Good time to plant. Remove dead leaves. Also remove dead flower stems and any plant supports.

WINTER

December-February:

Plant if soil not wet or frozen. Avens are winter hardy.

Cultivating

Feed avens in spring with a general-purpose fertilizer, applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When flowering is over, cut back the stems to ground level.

Keep plants young and vigorous by lifting and dividing them every three years in March-April:

Lift the plant with a garden fork and shake off loose soil from the roots.

Tease or cut the plant into several portions, discarding the old, woody centre.

Immediately replant the outer sections into moist, prepared soil to prevent the roots from drying out.

Firm in.

Avens can also be raised from seed sown in early spring and germinated in a garden frame or cool greenhouse. You can buy seeds, especially of hybrids, from seedsmen. -—

KEEP THEM UPRIGHT

Support taller border avens with twiggy sticks in wind-exposed gardens. Alternatively, use proprietary metal or plastic plant supports which encircle the stems. Put supports in place when the young plants are only a few centimetres high.

A vens is a low-growing perennial whose bowl-shaped flowers brighten the garden during the summer. Some cultivars are quite dazzling.

This tough plant survives temperatures down to -15°C, so you can grow it anywhere in Britain. The rock-garden varieties are even hardier.

Avens is best grown in mixed or herbaceous borders with other summer-flowering perennials, especially early blooming types like lupin, bearded iris, peony and pyrethrum. It is especially suited to cottage and cottage-type gardens. The border kinds also make excellent cut flowers.

Ideal situation

Avens is very easy to grow and thrives in most kinds of garden soil. You can plant it in full sun or a spot which receives sun for only part of the day.

Any ordinary garden soil is suitable, so long as drainage is good. Border avens does best in soil which retains moisture during dry spells. Before planting border varieties, dig leaf-mould or garden compost into the soil to help moisture retention and drainage. Alternatively, add composted bark or a coir-based soil conditioner.

The avens species suited to rockeries like gritty, well-drained soil.

Planting

Buy avens in pots from garden centres for planting in mid-autumn-early spring, as long as the soil is not too wet or frozen.

You can also buy and plant pot-grown plants when they are in flower, but be sure to keep them well watered in dry spells.

Plant the border varieties in groups of three to five. Leave 30-40cm between each plant. However, set out rock-garden varieties singly, putting them among other alpines.

POPULAR VARIETIES ,

Name, Colour, Height x spread (cm), Description

Border varieties, ‘Borisii’, orange-red, 30×30, flowers early summer-early autumn ‘Fire Opal’, orange-red, 45-60×30-45, eye-catching, semi-double flowers ‘Georgenberg’, deep yellow, 30×30, dwarf ‘Lady Stratheden’, yellow, 45-60×30-45, double ‘MrsJBradshaw’, red, 45-60×30-45, double

Geum coccineum, ‘Coppertone’, copper-coloured 25 x 30, clump-forming, early flowering Geum montanum, golden-yellow, 15-30×30, small, hardy, rock-garden species Geum rivale (water avens), ‘Album’, white, 30-45×30-45, bell-shaped, drooping flowers ‘Leonard’s Variety, gold and orange 30-45 x 30-45, bell-shaped flowers with purple ruff ‘Lionel Cox’, pinkish red, 30-45×30-45, bell-shaped flowers with purple ruff

Avens

SITUATION

A position in full sun or partial shade (shaded for part of the day).

SOIL

Any well-drained garden soil, preferably lime free. Can be improved with leaf-mould, garden compost or composted bark. Rock-garden avens like gritty soil.

CARE

Cut down flower stems when flowering is over. Remove dead leaves in autumn. Provide support for tall border kinds. Feed with general purpose fertilizer in spring.

Geum triflorum has attractive, bell-like flower-heads that droop gracefully from their stalks.

IMPORTANT

You can propagate some species from the little plantlets they produce on runners. Carefully snip off the plantlets in summer, pot them up in potting compost, and keep them in a garden frame over the winter. Alternatively, peg the plantlets down around the parent plant until they have rooted.

PLANT HEALTH

Avens are remarkably free from pests and diseases. A very wet soil could cause root rot. Improve conditions by adding plenty of grit to the soil.

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