Azaleas are certainly NOT subtle - their vibrant splashes of colour at this time of year light up gardens across the Isle of Wight.

They are something of a Marmite shrub but in their case I reckon most gardeners love ‘em - except those with chalky soil.

They are ideally suited to containers where they can be grown in a controlled acid environment which they need in order to flourish.

Without acid soil they, like larger rhododendrons, cannot take up the nutrients they need.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Depending upon variety they will either stand-up as a shrub or spill over the edges of a container, wall or large rockery, in a colour cascade.

Among the larger stand-ups are the Rustica hybrids, bred in the 19th century but still popular.

This week's Isle of Wight gardening tips:

  • Open greenhouse doors and vents on hot days and consider buying an automatic opener, which opens when it’s warm and closes in the cool of night. Damp down your greenhouse paths and beds on hot days, to increase humidity and deter pesky red spider mite.
  • Divide established clumps of hostas as they come into growth.
  • Take softwood cuttings of shrubby herbs, such as sage and lemon verbena.
  • Prune, to shape spring-flowering shrubs after flowering.
  • Trim lavender plants as they finish blooming, cutting off old flower heads and about an inch of the current year's growth.
  • Now is the time to plant sweetcorn. Start them in small pots. A Supersweet variety is favourite; much better then shop-bought which are never as good because sweetcorn is best eaten within hours of picking - before the natural sugars start to turn to starch.
  • Continue earthing-up potatoes to promote a bigger crop.

Rhododendron Rustica red and pink both have lovely displays of blooms, from late spring and early summer, above vibrant green foliage. They remain attractive even after the flowers have gone.

As the end of summer arrives, the leaves turn to provide autumn colour.

This species of rhododendron is very hardy and flourishes in a sunny spot.

It is ideal for the edges of a woodland garden and acid borders.

They have a height and spread of 5ft or so, on maturity.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Smaller, less subtle and with so many flowers you cannot see the foliage at this time of year, are azalea Geisha red and its purple variant.

Geisha are evergreen bushes that are a perfect choice for gardens, large or small, due to their compact growing habit.

Depending on location, in between five and ten years Geisha will only grow to a maximum of less than 3ft tall with a similar spread.

All azaleas and their larger rhododendron cousins should be planted in a hole the same depth as the container, with room for the roots to develop.

Choose a sunny, well-drained spot and mulch annually with leaf-mould, to help protect the roots and retain moisture. Deadhead flowers as they come to an end.

Little pruning is required for azaleas and they will razzle dazzle for many a long year.