With the holiday season upon us, we asked Head Gardener Dan to share what plant best evokes summer and reminds him of the sunny summer days of his childhood. Here’s what he had to say.
Without a doubt Lantana ‘Orange Magenta’ reminds me of my summer holidays. I first remember seeing it as a child on holiday in Greece with my parents. I distinctly remember it growing poolside in medium-sized terracotta pots, and I’m sure we looked it up and tried to grow it at home sometime later. The ‘tutti-frutti’-style of its flowers – which are usually a combination of hot pinks, purples, oranges, and yellows – are just sunshine on a plant.
While lantanas remind me of exotic climes, they’re actually semi-evergreen, tender shrubs (although some species are perennials), usually grown in the UK as rather loud and brash bedding plants. And for the first time ever (at least to my knowledge) we’re growing them at Winterbourne!
You won’t have seen them yet – they’re still growing on in our nursery until they’re large enough to be moved into the garden for display – but when you do, I hope they bring you as much joy as they have for me.
We’ll probably use them in terracotta pots, a bit like that Greek poolside, around our display glasshouse areas where we often place out other tender (or showy!) potted specimens, like lilies, cacti and succulents, cannas, and gingers. Once the summer is over, we’ll bring some inside to protect them from the frost and try and keep them going for future years.
Lantanas are easy enough to grow at home. They like a sunny spot, loamy soil, and plenty of water and soluble food when they’re at their pomp in high summer. If you want to keep them year after year like us, you’ll need to store them somewhere light and frost-free, like a conservatory or unheated greenhouse, and ease off the watering as they prefer to be on the drier side in winter.
But that’s enough talk of winter. Try Lantana and add a bit of summer holiday sunshine to your patio containers. You won’t regret it!