I am an agapanthus ‘nut’ growing these drought-tolerant, summer-flowering plants that remind me of my South African childhood gardens. My garden is too small for the numbers I grow, so most of them are in large containers. In winter they need protection, so I have copied one of my agapanthus-loving friends and provided a winter house for them. The evergreen agapanthus spend the winter in this custom-built ‘agapanthus house’, while the deciduous ones in containers go into one of my sheds, where there is some light. Before they check in for their winter holidays, they are all watered well, seedheads and stems cut down and any yellowing foliage removed.
Evergreen agapanthus still need light, so the roof of the winter palace is made from sheets of clear corrugated plastic. Inside, the plants are crowded in place on wooden pallets, with horticultural fleece and newspaper filling the gaps between them and adding extra blanketing protection. The walls of the agapanthus house are made from insulating panels, with the roofing plastic added last. The ‘roof’ sits on a couple of pieces of trellis and is weighted down with wood or bricks. I can remove it easily, so that on sunny days in early spring there is a circulation of air around the plants. The cover can be dropped back swiftly at the end of the day when temperatures drop.
The deciduous plants will survive in the darker shed, but they are still wrapped in a blanket of fleece and newspaper. I do have some agapanthus growing in the ground in the borders and these are deciduous, so once the foliage has died back I mulch the crowns.
In March, when the over-wintered plants come out into the light they need water and checking over to remove any unhealthy foliage. As soon as they start growing well again I start to feed them with a high potash feed. I usually buy this from agapanthus specialist grower: Steve Hickman of Hoyland Plant Centre, South Yorkshire. Visit www.somethingforthegarden.co.uk.
And then, when the plants are growing well during the summer, the fun starts – as my ‘aggie’ friends and I are nerdy bud-counters, vying with each other for the highest number of flowering stems of the summer…