It’s all Greek to me!


Osteospermum. From the Greek Osteon meaning bone and spermum from the Latin meaning seed. Why? I haven’t been able to discover a reason for this name but it may be to do with the shape or other qualities of the seeds. Some botanical Latin really foxes me. Like why is Allium nigrum white when the name means black!?016

This is Osteospermum ‘Cannington Roy’ which loves it in the gravel against the wall and in full sun. Could it be ‘bone’ hardy?011

I mentioned this odd looking Allium roseum last year, It’s common name is Rosy Garlic because it produces what look like garlic bulbs within the flower head. Pretty little thing and has bulked up well this year.001

The Bearded Iris rhizomes given to me by a friend two years ago have done incredibly well and produced masses of flowers this year. I just wish they lasted a bit longer.028

Finally for now, if anyone is worried about hard pruning their Cotinus coggygria, don’t be. I have cut mine back to bone (there’s that word again!) two years running and it shoots from the stem/trunk no problem. In fact, I have to rub a few shoots off as there are always too many. I also find the new foliage is a better colour. Obviously, this is not a good idea if you want the famous smoky flowers at the end of the summer…there won’t be any! To get those you have to create a framework of shoots and that, unfortunately, usually means big and ugly.

My Garden This Week

011The pots of tender Agapanthus which languish at 10°C in my friend Paddy’s heated greenhouse all winter came out a few weeks ago in bud and are now gracing the south facing front of the bungalow. They attract admiring glances and some longer lingering looks from those who either don’t know what they are or who do know and just want to savour them. We split them two years ago from 2 pots to 4 which has done them good. The biggest one has 8 flower spikes this year.078

We have been picking Sweet Peas for two weeks and now get armfuls every day. This is ‘Painted Lady, one of the oldest and most fragrant of all. 075                                                  But my favourite at the moment is the one I bought on a whim because it’s name is also my wife’s, ‘Cathy’. She is stunning (and the Sweet Pea!) in a shade of creamy white with a wonderful scent and is a strong grower, the tallest of the 20 varieties so far and very floriferous.


The raised bed behind the sweet peas is full of Sweet Williams grown from a packet of seeds last year. Like a lot of biennials they looked half dead from October to March but perked up when the sun finally came out and the weather warmed up. Now they are in full flower and getting picked every day for the house. They have a light sweet scent and last well in the vase. Behind them, the blackberry Rubus fruticosus ‘Bedford Giant’  planted last year is in full flower and covered with bees all day so pollination is assured. 058                                        The flowers themselves are huge, almost like white dog roses, so I am expecting equally huge fruits. The ‘Black Satin’ and ‘Ruben’ are weak by comparison and a big disappointment. The ‘Bedford Giant’ takes some managing due to it’s vigour but looking at the sheer size of the stems and side branches and the number of flowers, it should be worth the effort…and the scratches!042

The little north american woodlander, Gillenia trifoliata bought at Gardeners World Live last year and planted in my shady area has delighted me with strong growth and the dainty pure white flowers again after a shaky start. I hadn’t appreciated this was an herbaceous perennial and when it disappeared in the winter I thought it had died. It looks like a sub-shrub with woody stems but is not. Everything dies back to the ground.

Hemerocallis fulva

Hemerocallis fulva

The inherited orange day lily, Hemerocallis fulva, is exceptionally tall this year, a good 150cm and covered in masses of buds. It must have enjoyed the division from a huge clump into several smaller ones two years ago.

Osteospermum jacundum

Osteospermum jacundum

On the edge of the drive in full sun and dry poor soil, the Osteospermum jacundum is pushing it’s many heads to the sky and looking glorious. The pinky white flowers shine and can be seen for a hundred metres down the road!

Front border with Salvia greggii 'Royal Bumble'

Front border with Salvia greggii ‘Royal Bumble’

This is my first year with shrubby salvias and so far they haven’t disappointed. The current red ones will soon be joined by purple Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’ and even darker purple Salvia greggii x serpyllilifolia.

Sysirinchum with Lysimachia and Geranium

Sysirinchum with Lysimachia and Geranium

I love it when combinations work well and these three seem to be in perfect harmony. The pale creamy yellow of Sysirinchum striatum with that well known spreader Lysimachia cilliata ‘Firecracker’ and supported by tall pale blue Geranium pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark’.

Thalictrum rochebrunianum

Thalictrum rochebrunianum

And finally, my current favourite plant in the garden, for the second year running, the gorgeous Thalictrum rochebrunianum. Five feet tall with strong glaucous foliage and the most exquisite flowers of lilac petals and bright yellow stamens.

Plenty more to come next week!