HELEN LANG: The delightful and hardy petunia

We are now approaching the hottest days of this summer, so decide now what clothes you can shed, before being arrested.

We are now approaching the hottest days of this summer, so decide now what clothes you can shed, before being arrested.

You can put that sweater away for a couple of months,and probably shed those wool socks (why not go bare-foot around the house?). Of course if you are inclined to spill food it could be dangerous … one step into that spilled soup and you could find yourself skating down the hall with the stairs looming up in your path. A stay in hospital might be restful but just think about all those wilting plants that would die without your daily attention! Just be more careful when carrying the soup!

Why not make a salad instead? Put the soup in the freezer for a hot lunch on a cold day in November. It’ll taste marvelous then and remind you of those glorious days of this past summer.

I’d like to remind you of the ease and delight to be found in a pot of petunias. They are a joy, smell delightful, come in so many colours that you can blend them into almost any flower bed. Slugs love them, of course, but slug bait is wonderfully effective and it’s us against them!

I have a pot of fiery red petunias and another of dark purple, which smell wonderful, especially in the evening.

Petunias are amazingly forgiving. My dear former neighbour Hazel had a big container of red ones sitting on the edge of her wide balcony railing. One night the wind blew them over the edge and they landed face-down. This pretty well destroyed all the blooms but she watered the remaining ones, added some liquid fertilizer and within a couple of weeks she had a display that everyone envied.

This does suggest that pruning petunias back hard in mid-season does wonders for them.

Mine have only just started to bloom but in about six weeks  it’s ‘off with their heads’ to make room for fresh flowers. Petunias may be as common as dirt but they are reliable and never fail to provide a long season of bloom, bless ‘em!

They do have a lovely scent — especially the dark purple ones and especially in early evening.