Six on Saturday

It was all going so well. Then I dropped my phone and smashed the screen. I say phone, but in truth it is my all encompassing communication device. You don’t realise just how important it is and how much you rely on it until you lose it, break it or have it taken away! Mine was sent off to a repair company in Kent never to see the light of day again. Written off, unserviceable, beyond economic repair – take your pick, it was bust and wouldn’t be repaired. Two weeks later and here we are again with a bright new shiny phone. Peace reigns, blood pressure has reduced, apps, contacts and photos have been restored thanks to Mr Google, and normal service has resumed.

My front door pots have been improved with the arrival of pink hyacinths in bloom. They were rescued from last year’s pots and have done well to flower so well again. Always a big decision whether to chuck it all away and start again fresh each year or try to save and store from year to year. I can’t bear to throw perfectly good plants, flowers or bulbs away, I will always try to find them a home and as my wife is fond of saying, “they’ve got two chances”.

Great excitement on Tuesday when the Which? Gardening Trial Seeds arrived in the post. The Dahlia ‘Bishops Children’, Bidens ‘Golden Nuggets’ and Agastache ‘Liquorice Blue’ were sown immediately and put in the heated propagator. The beefsteak tomato, French beans and lettuce will be sown later this month or April. I enjoy monitoring the performance issues requested and giving feedback at the end of the season. It makes an interesting distraction from growing just for pleasure.

This is proof that it is wise to follow good practice and leave the top growth on Penstemons until after the last frost. The new growth below is protected whilst the old growth takes the hit. I cut mine back by a third in December to prevent the wind from rocking themselves out of the ground. I also take a dozen cuttings just in case and pass them to friends if I don’t need them. This one is ‘Hidcote Pink’, probably the hardiest and longest lived of them all.

Just a random daffodil but one with the most gorgeous two tone orange trumpet backed by chucky egg yellow petals. Nothing special to a narcissus connoisseur but special to me and hopefully the people passing by.

The Euphorbia characias has perked up after all the snow, frost, wind and rain of January and February and is now almost upright again. A self sown two year old who will probably have to be relocated or passed on to a friend before it becomes huge and blocks the path. There are plenty more seedlings springing up in the wrong place too! Fortunately they re-establish easily when young so I pot them up and grow them on. People pay good money for what some would consider ‘nuisance’ plants.

If I’m not around next Saturday, it will be due to the Magic Money Plant and its unique powers of influencing the Camelot balls to drop in the right order. I’m in it to win it!

Have a great weekend

David

Bidens aurea ‘Hannay’s Lemon Drop’ – one year on

003Ever since I posted about this unusual Bidens almost exactly a year ago, I have noticed that it keeps showing up in the ‘top posts & pages’ so readers are obviously interested in it and how it performs. I thought it was late to flower last year because I had grown it from seed in March and it was going to need several months to attain it’s height and maturity. When it did flower it was stunning in it’s simplicity. Dainty and delicate white tipped canary yellow flowers on tall wiry stems. Frankly, when it died away last winter I didn’t expect it to re-appear, and so I was delighted when it did. Bidens is not generally considered to be hardy but this variety is reckoned to be hardier than most.

Bidens aurea 21 May

Bidens aurea 21 May

It was probably due to the very cold and wet spring this year but it took forever to appear and it was the end of May before I noticed any new growth. However, I was delighted to see far more growth than just the three plants from 2012. It had spread several feet and now covered an area 1 metre across. This fresh young growth sat reluctantly through spring and didn’t do very much until the end of July when it suddenly took off and the first flowers finally appeared at the end of August, exactly the same as last year!009

If anything, I think it might be slightly shorter this year which may be due to the horrible clay soil it sits in and the corresponding lack of nutrients but the foliage colour is a good dark green and it looks very healthy. The flowers, three or four at the top of each stem, open successively and seem to last a week or so before the next bud opens. Bidens aurea 'Hannays Lemon Drop 2'

If it spreads again next year I may have to re-classify it as invasive because, as much as I like it, I don’t want it to take over the border. It is already swamping a few things so a bit of division is called for next year. A number of visitors from our horticultural society have asked for a piece so it will end up in several more gardens.

A plant I can heartily recommend. If only it was scented!

Bidens aurea ‘Hannay’s Lemon Drop’

Just discovered lots of newly emerging growth so it is a truly hardy herbaceous perennial after all. Looking forward to an even better display this year.

David's Garden Diary

This variety of the popular north american Bidens aurea was introduced many years ago by Hannay’s Nursery in Bath and is one of the hardier forms which is why I decided to try it here in the chilly Cotswolds. The seed, which is barbed helping it to hitch a ride from grazing animals, came from last year’s Cottage Garden Seed Exchange and was easy to germinate into very sturdy little plants. However, during April, May and June they just sat there at about 30cm tall waiting for some warmth and sunshine.

I had read that this form of Bidens can run and become a bit of a thug if it likes your soil and aspect so I decided to plant it carefully in several very different parts of the garden. To my total surprise, it has done best with it’s feet in sticky clay and is now 120cm high and…

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