Six on Saturday

The Agapanthus africanus have been wonderful and made a real statement across the front of the bungalow drawing admiring glances and comments from passers-by. Due to the recent very hot days, they are going over now but they will make way for the herbaceous ones in a few weeks time.

My favourite summer flowering onion, Allium angulosum, or Mouse Garlic. Possibly the best bee plant in the garden. Long lasting flowers, doesn’t seed about, short, stocky and utterly reliable. Just five small bulbs have produced this clump in three years.

Another David Austin creation, rose ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ and she certainly is. Beautiful tight creamy buds opening to a creamy white frilly powder puff with a gorgeous citrus scent. A late bloomer to enjoy when some of the early roses have gone over.

Cichorium intybus, the common native Chicory, arrived in my garden a few years ago and is now a permanent resident. I treat it with caution as the seedlings put down a serious taproot very quickly after germination and are difficult to remove. The new plant rosettes look a lot like Dandelions but with slightly more rounded serrated leaves. The roots are roasted, ground up and made into a chicory essence. You might remember Camp Coffee which is a brown liquid, consisting of water, sugar, 4% caffeine-free coffee essence, and 26% chicory essence. It is generally used as a substitute for coffee, by mixing with hot water or with warm milk in much the same way as cocoa, or added to cold milk and ice to make an iced coffee. I grow it just for it’s unique blue flowers, I hate the coffee!

I lost all the first flower buds on my early flowering Wisteria sinensis ‘Prolific’ to an April frost so I am enjoying the second flush of rather smaller, but no less beautiful lilac-blue flowers.

Tradescantia virginiana ‘Brevicaulis’, meaning. rather unkindly. “short necked”, is in full bloom and very healthy compared to most of my other cultivars which are now looking exhausted, having completed their intensive 8 week flowering and seed setting.

Finally, Echinacea pallida, the species with the droopy petals and enormous cone which attracts bees and butterflies like no other. I grew it from seed a few years ago and was so pleased with myself for getting it to grow because they are not that easy to germinate. They need that awful cold/hot/cold/hot process known as ‘stratification’ which involved space in our fridge, much to the disgust of my long suffering wife!

Have a great weekend. I hope you can find a way of keeping yourself and your gardens cool and hydrated during this exceptional weather.


Six on Saturday

It’s been raining here in Cheltenham for the last two days so my photos had to be taken between showers. However, the Echinacea pallida enjoyed the welcome rain and perked up a treat. Their downward facing petals look odd but are the defining feature of this species of Echinacea. My ‘White Swan’ have all disappeared and my purpurea drastically reduced, but pallida goes from strength to strength. Looks good with the Monarda too.

I am trialling Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’ for Which? Gardening magazine to see how they perform in containers and to see which colours attract the most pollinators. Unfortunately, they seem to be attracting more blackfly than pollinators at the moment! Time to squish!

I have to confess, I was stupidly excited at seeing the first grapes forming on my little Fox Grape, Vitis labrusca ‘Isabella’, and wonder if they will actually become tasty, sweet pink grapes. Watch this space!

The Merton Thornless blackberries are turning colour a little later than usual this year, presumably due to the unseasonal weather in May, but are very welcome, particularly to the hungry blackbirds! It’s a bit of a race each morning to see who gets there first! Mind you, there’s enough to go round and you can only eat, freeze and cook so many blackberries!

Japanese Wineberries are coming thick and fast too. The bright red shiny, sticky sweet little jewels are not so prolific as raspberries or blackberries but they are delicious on our morning granola.

‘Moneymaker’ tomatoes are very late ripening, probably due to the rubbish weather, but we should have been picking for a few weeks now. Not that we have been having too many salads this year! Disappointing, but things might have been different if they had been in a greenhouse. I like to grow mine outdoors for good pollination, and in the ground rather than pots or growbags despite the risk of blight. At least a month behind though!

Well, that’s my six for today

Have a great weekend and I hope it stays dry for you.