Ignore the experts – they're often wrong
A beautiful evening. Geraldine and I at a barbecue run by good friends and there were quite a few guests attending. Both barbecues doing nicely, laden with goodies and I went with my plate to try a sausage. Then Mr Gloom arrived and stood closely next to me. 'I wouldn't eat that if I was you, it's overcooked on the outside and probably raw inside.' he advised quietly. 'I know because I'm a food expert,' he added. I picked up a burger and put it on my plate. 'I wouldn't eat that if I was you. If you knew what was in burgers!' added Mr Gloom.
Getting a bit miffed with Gloom I grabbed a large chicken leg and plonked it on my plate. 'I wouldn't eat that either' said Gloom, 'They haven't cooked it in the oven first - could be raw around the bones inside!' I put a few lettuce leaves on my plate and looked at Gloom for approval. 'Home grown, so look out for greenfly.' he sniffed. I moved on.
That's the trouble with so-called experts. Gardening experts are as bad. They write that Hypericum elatum 'Elstead Variety' is very prone to rust and when gardeners read this they strike it off their 'must-have' list! This plant is a special treat to be had this month when the first vivid clusters of fat scarlet berries mingle with the yellow blooms. The whole bush suddenly glows with colour.
Its yellow, one-inch wide 'St John's Wort' flowers cover branches from July until October. The earliest flowers give the first red oval berries now, just like those of the Christmas pot plant solanums you see for sale.
With flowers like sunshine; berries like ripe cherries and foliage smelling of.. (pineapple?) this is a plant flower arrangers simply die for.
But what of this rust we are warned about by the Glooms of the plant world?
It attacks older foliage and if the shrub becomes an elder statesman then yes, its foliage will get rust.
But if you prune the shrub hard back every March this cuts away the old branches which may have the rust spores and encourages young healthy replacements. It also encourages larger flowers and bigger, brighter berries.
A regular feeding of potash through the season too and rust will be something you read about but not see on this lovely hypericum.
Some Glooms say that it can be suspect in winter. Treat it like an almost-hardy fuchsia. Pick a warm sheltered spot (where it will be evergreen) and a well-drained soil with grit added.
For winter, cover the roots with a thick mulch of either grit or leafmould.
Don't worry if hard frost damages the top growth, remember this will be cut away in March.
The Glooms also say that one of my favourite plants are too invasive! 'Grim the Collier' or Hieracum aurantiacum is a lovely, hardy hawkweed often found growing wild in Britain and now at the height of summer its mass of brick-red flowers look spectacular.
Hawkweeds are 'weeds' to some experts.
Yes, dear Grim is invasive because he has runners which spread underground and, above, the many airborne fluffy seeds can quickly build an empire if allowed to, but it is a simple matter to chop out any straying runners and to take off the finished flower heads before they make seed. I am very fond of Grim.
'I don't like that man!' whispered Geraldine looking at Mr Gloom, 'Poor Tom, he's putting everyone off the food he's cooking. Where are you going?' 'I'm going to suggest he shuts up or he will be examining the wildlife from a close quarter in the privet hedge!' I informed.
Nice chatting to you!