The summer phase of the garden is coming to an end and the bright colours are fading. The Monarda and Echinacea which have been so dominant and a magnet for bees and butterflies are gradually being replaced by the emerging Asters and Chrysanthemums.
The Echinops ritro which spreads itself around the dry poor soil alongside the trees is doing well this year and is always buzzing with bees. The purple beech hedge is a good combination.
Agastache in it’s many forms and colours has been a feature of the garden this year, mainly because the seed was freely available from all the seed exchanges I take part in and because it is so easy to grow. This A. ‘Liquorice Blue’ is 120cm high and enjoys its spot on the patio with white climbing Lophospermum and blue Maurandella.
These rather unassuming bulbs go by the name of Tritelia ‘Queen Fabiola’, a complete waste of £2 from Tesco! Commonly known as Californian Bluebells, they don’t hold a candle to our own Spring native and they will be unceremoniously plonked in a corner to live or die depending on their desire to return for more insults!
In the cutting garden the forest of Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’ has proved once again that they need more room, at least 80cm between them otherwise this is what happens! It is impossible to stake and tie them properly and watering and feeding is hit and miss. However, the gorgeous dark red velvet blooms are simply stunning and rise above the foliage just waiting to be admired.
The ‘Twining’s Smartie’ have also surprised me with the sheer number of flowers they have produced. After a very slow start they have performed very well and will be kept on the list for next year. The stems are short but the flowers look best on their own in a short vase. I take it all back, they are not the pathetic weedy plant I accused of being and the inconsistent colouring of the petals adds a certain charm.
We have started picking Blackberries and get about a punnet a day off ‘Bedford Giant’. Reuben is a complete disaster and steadfastly refuses to grow in the partial shade of the Thuja trees. ‘Black Satin’ looks promising with big fat juicy fruits just beginning to turn. The apple of unknown origin which I have spent four years gradually training into a manageable tree with winter and summer pruning has produced masses of fruit this year after a barren year in 2012. Either it is one of those varieties which has a ‘rest year’ occasionally or it was the lack of pollination last year. There was plenty of blossom but no bees around due to the cold temperatures in April. I thinned the fruit in early July this year which seems to have worked because the remaining apples are forming well and should be ready in a few weeks, wasps permitting!
Despite all the plant sales and giveaways I am still left with 20 – 30 ‘leftovers’ again. This is probably not bad considering I have probably produced about 350 plants this year for myself, various friends, plant sales and shows. The Dahlia merckii are probably my biggest disappointment but only because my expectations were so high. They are big ugly and untidy plants with small plain flowers which need constant watering and feeding for very little return. The flowers don’t last in a vase and the plant takes up too much room.
The Salvias, on the other hand, have been a real success story and despite selling dozens of them at plant sales, I have managed to keep one plant of the nine different varieties I grew from seed this year: Salvia patens ‘Cambridge Blue’, Pink Ice’, ‘Chilcombe’, and ‘Blue Angel’, Salvia greggii ‘Serpyllilifolia’, ‘Christine Yeo’, ‘Royal Bumble’, Salvia coccinea and Salvia przewalskii ‘Out of the Mist’.
Last weekend was dominated by the Cheltenham Horticultural Society Summer Flower and Craft Show which is the subject of my next post.
It’s interesting what you say about Dahlia merckii, I’ve grown it for the first time this year as it was recommended to me, but I’ve been very underwhelmed by it so far. Don’t think I’ll bother with it next year.
I think a lot of species are inferior to the cultivars and hybrids and I am not sure what drew me to it really. I suppose I thought it was a little ‘exotic’ and special. I was wrong! It is quite bland and uninteresting. Not sure what I will do with the tubers…it is reckoned to be quite hardy so it might have to take its chances outside!
I think you’re being a bit harsh on the California Bluebell – though I’m guilty of feeling that any money spent at Tesco is a waste 🙂 From your photograph, I find the rather delicate flowers quite appealing, though it’s difficult to judge their size and I have no idea how much relative room and/or time they take up! I think they look prettier than the Salvia’s, personally!
It is a blue bell and it comes from the western United States and it is about 20cm tall. Perhaps I was a bit harsh. It is quite pretty I suppose but it has nothing to make me want to grow it again whereas Salvias have exquisite flowers in glorious colours and are very bee-friendly.
Thankfully, there are no rights and wrongs in gardening, it is all a matter of opinion. Your opinion, Christopher, is just as valid as mine…on this occasion! Now if it was F1 that would be different!