Echibeckia Update

_dsc0002

The Echibeckia Summerina ‘Yellow’ was a big surprise this year. The plants from Hayloft survived the winter in pots plunged up to their necks in a raised bed but looked dead until April when a few small green shoots appeared. I dug them up and transferred them to the greenhouse where they took off! By early May they were ready to plant out and with a dressing of bonemeal they romped away.

I think they worked well next to the Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’  but they were gradually pushed over by the thuggish Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ behind.

I will be interesting to see if they survive another, and perhaps harder winter.

Echinacea Heaven

046

Last week I invited myself to Meadow Farm in Feckenham, nr Droitwich in Worcestershire, to see Rob and Diane Cole’s trial beds of Echinaceas. What a pleasure and a privilege! Rob was formerly a Landscape Architect and his attention to detail is evident in everything he does. Their nursery beds and display gardens are immaculate and I am always impressed when I visit. I just wish I had taken my DSLR camera, I only had my phone camera with me so apologies for the grainy low res images.047

If you have never seen Echinaceas en masse, they are an uplifting sight. Rob Cole specialises in selecting open pollinated varieties which could produce the next “Pom Pom Wow Berry” or “Tomato Soup”. The bees do all the breeding work for him and with his well trained eye and years of experience he selects possibles from the thousands produced every year. These are then grown on for a second year and re-assessed to see if they have the right characteristics to make them a distinct variety good enough for the trade. Rob confided that despite assessing literally thousands of plants over several years, he has produced very few that look really outstanding. Rob is a perfectionist and if and when his progeny reach the trade, you can be sure they will be superb.042

The gardens at Meadow Farm are a wonderful way of seeing plants in context and learning how and where to plant certain species to great effect. Diane’s talent for combining colour and form have made this a garden as good as any you will see. Having also seen the garden in early spring when it was full of bulbs and spring flowers, I was struck by the dramatic difference just a few months can make using herbaceous perennials and sheer exuberance of the planting. Rob and Diane have used the contours and slopes of the land to great effect and have produced interesting ‘rooms’ and beds of all kinds which would appeal to gardeners of all persuasions. 043

Considering they have created everything themselves with little or no outside help,carry out all the maintenance themselves, run a highly successful nursery, sow millions of seeds and divide thousands of plants every year, organise group visits several times a year, conduct talks and demonstrations to gardening clubs almost every week of the year, contribute time and expertise to the Hardy Plant Society at national and local level and still have time to see me..I think they are very special people.034

I have learned a lot from my chats with Rob. He is very knowledgeable and a highly accomplished and respected speaker on the gardening club circuit. He has that wonderful ability to make a subject interesting, funny and memorable. I look forward to my next visit with eager anticipation.

 

Inula in your face

031Anyone who has read this blog in the last week or so will know how pleased I am with the Inula helenium that is in full flower right now. It must be the little boy in me that wonders how a seed, no bigger than a grain of sand, could become such a large, sturdy and colourful plant.035

A plant adored by bumble bees032

And now at nearly 1.8m tall, and 1.2m wide, the most outstanding plant in the garden by a mile!

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…

View original post 224 more words

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

First Frost

First Frosty Morning

The weather forecast said there might be a frost on Saturday night but just in exposed rural areas….they were wrong! We awoke to a hard frost and the tell-tale signs of tender plants grimacing in the early morning mist. Gradually, as the sun rose and the mist cleared, I realised this was the day to start the annual clearance.

It is an inevitable part of gardening with annuals and tender perennials that, sooner or later, they need to be lifted and either potted up, stored or composted. Most people seem to think that makes a garden ‘high maintenance’ but I just see it as part of the programme. If you want a colourful scented garden throughout the year, it comes at a small price. However, the payback is lots of wonderful composting material!

Even after so many years, I am still reluctant to dispose of plants which are still flowering like Cosmos, Nicotianas,  China asters and bedding dahlias but if I wait I will just be clearing away a soggy mushy mess instead. So, out I went, wheelbarrow, border fork and spade in hand and had a really good day. The weather was warm under a cloudless sky.

Schizostylis coccinea

Schizostylis coccinea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel better for it, the borders look fresh and ready for the next chapter and I now have somewhere to plant out the 50 Alliums I bought at Malvern, the Echinaceas and rudbeckias bursting out of their 5 litre pots, the Hesperis matronalis, Sweet Williams and Foxgloves grown from seed, the Delphiniums and Penstemons bought as plugs, and the various perennials I have collected from plant sales but had nowhere to plant them. Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights’, Schizostylis coccinea, two bargain half price Phormiums, shrubby Salvias ‘Hot Lips’ and ‘Royal Bumble’, Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ and last, but by no means least, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow is another day. Retirement has the benefit that I can spread tasks out a bit, they don’t all have to be done at the weekend, so now it is time to think, reflect, have a glass of wine and plan ahead. I might get the seed boxes out of the fridge and dream of next year’s promise, all those wonderful treats to come!