My Garden This Week

014The 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.010

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.001

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.004

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!016

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.019

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.021

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!017

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.024

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.

And there’s more……

I found it difficult to stop taking photos this week, there is so much happening in the garden. The sunshine has prompted everything to put on their best clothes and shout out for the paparazzi.019

These beautiful un-named Asiatic lilies grew in a pot last year and have done even better in the ground. They mingle with with blue and red salvias and the forthcoming Echinacea buds and shriek to be noticed.013

The more demure and sultry Lily ‘Landini’ keeps a lower profile but is just as stunning.035

The pollen free ‘Elodie’ may lack any fragrance but is nevertheless a statuesque beauty and has done well in the same pot for two years so must be tough and hardy.034

The Inula helenium(?) mentioned in my previous post is a big hit with bees and hoverflies and provides a perfect landing pad.066

The Alstoemerias grown last year as immature bare roots from The Daily Telegraph are now established in a well drained raised bed and have rewarded me with a wonderful crop of tall yellow/orange flowers which last well for at least two weeks in a vase.061

It is a little disappointing that they are all the same colour but on the other hand they probably look better on their own and certainly make a statement.002

These egg shaped Allium sphaerocephalon are the last to flower and do so in a most unusual way. The papery bud splits open to reveal a totally green flower head which gradually turns purple from the top down. They have done well in a pot, taking over from the narcissus and tulips planted with them.024

The pond surface is now covered in water lily leaves and water soldiers keeping the water clear and providing shelter for the fish who have no eye lids and hate the glare of the sun.045

The Sempervivums in pots around the pond are beginning to send up their strange, almost pre-historic looking flower spikes after which, the centre of the rosette dies but not before giving me plenty of babies to replace them.067

The more I see the flowers of Dahlia ‘Twynings Smartie’ the more I am beginning to like them.051

The creamy white flowers and dark foliage of Twyning’s After Eight’ are an unusual combination which could easily have come from the ‘Bishop’ series. Perhaps it started life as ‘Bishop of York’.054

And finally……the beautiful simplicity of Dahlia merckii, a species from which many modern hybrids and cultivars have no doubt been bred. Easily grown from seed and apparently hardy in the ground, the lilac colour blends well in a mixed border. I find they are a bit floppy and need the support of a cane or other plants around them. Lovely!