Raise the Spanish Flag

005A kind friend gave me just one tiny seedling of Mina lobata or Spanish Flag back in May and I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought it might climb a cane so I put it at the end of a row of Sweet Peas. It spent the summer growing a huge number of stems and leaves but stubbornly refused to flower. Then, on 14 September I went on holiday for three weeks and when I came back, this is what I found!011

The tiny little plant had morphed into an enormous thug with literally thousands of pretty red, white and orange flowers on hundreds of stems. What a performance! It did get some water and comfrey back in June and July when the sweet peas were there but apart from that it had no special attention. In fact, I neglected it completely believing it was probably a dud. How wrong I was. It is a stunner and definitely one to grow for late summer colour in future. It looks like the flowers will yield plenty of seed heads so I can repay the favour to all my unsuspecting friends next year too!007

One good turn deserves another!

What’s Not To Like?

033A garden designer giving a talk at our Plant Heritage meeting on Saturday told us that some of her clients simply refuse to have anything yellow in their gardens. I have mentioned this before and I am still puzzled as to why some garden owners dislike the colour yellow. Is it because it is brash or simply too strong a colour? It would certainly not work in a garden filled with pastels and muted tones.

This Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ makes me smile every time I pass it and Bidens aurea ‘Hannay’s Lemon Drop’ does the same.'Orange Allouise'

This Chrysanthemum, ‘Orange Allouise’ is rather more yellow than orange and for some reason always reminds me of dripping melted butter!022

Surely, no garden would be complete without at least one Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’?

Looking at my garden today and looking back over the year, I realise that it is full of yellow, red and orange. Strong, bright colours which bring my garden to life, even on a dull day. Perhaps it’s all about the gardener and not the garden!

Autumn Colours

The autumn colours of Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’

A walk around the garden on this cold and misty morning was a treat and just served to remind me how gardens change and evolve with each season. The immature Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ is still only 2m tall but is already showing it’s well earned reputation for fabulous autumn colour.                                                                               The red tipped foliage of the Photinia fraserii hedge glistens with dew and is quietly beginning to go to sleep for winter.

The young purple beech hedge holding it’s coppery leaves

The young purple beech hedge is gradually knitting together to give us some privacy in the middle garden and I am pleased with it after just three years from 60cm whips, particularly given the awful first two winters it endured. It has had it’s first proper trim this year and I think we will see some real progress next summer now that it has got it’s feet down.

One season’s growth on Cotinus coggrya ‘Royal Purple’ after cutting back hard in Spring

The Cotinus coggrya left from the previous garden in the middle of the lawn had got too big and sprawling and was therefore cut back hard in spring to either rejuvenate it or kill it off! The pruning worked and it responded with bigger and better leaves but on thin wispy branches. It will get the same treatment next year and should be even better for it. It is under-planted with cream tulips, yellow primroses and Geranium sanguineum and looks a treat!

Autumn foliage of Viburnum opulus after the birds had the berries!

Despite being munched by Viburnum beetle earlier in the year which turned a lot of it’s leaves into lace, the guelder rose, Viburnum opulus, has managed to retain some foliage which will gradually turn a beautiful shade of dark pink. The few bright red berries it produced have all gone, snaffled by the blackbirds, pigeons or squirrels!

New flower buds of Peris japonica preparing for the Spring show!

My little Peris japonica in a pot likes it’s position by the front door and is always putting on a show. At the moment it is covered in pink buds which burst into white flowers in spring to welcome visitors to the door. It is a constant talking point.

The emerging fat pink buds of Skimmia japonica, the hips of the dog rose poking through the Pyracantha, the fading flowers of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and the seed heads of Echinacea purpurea are all telling me it’s nearly time for me to stay indoors and start looking through those seed catalogues!

Suddenly it’s Autumn

Autumn colour of Kolwitzia amabilis

Autumn has suddenly taken over and there are early signs of what might be a hard winter. The dog-rose hips are especially good this year and the ivy is literally heaving under the weight of millions of tiny flowers, promising a feast of berries to come. Continue reading