DSC_0007I know it’s not much of a plant at this stage, more of a box really, but inside is a bit of the horticultural future…..apparently! We are all familiar with Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ and R. var. ‘Deamii’ and have probably had a brush with the larger flowered and more colourful annual Rudbeckia hirta in the form of ‘Marmalade’ or ‘Green Eyes’ or similar. We are also probably all familiar with Echinacea purpurea and have discovered that only the species is truly hardy; the myriad cultivars I have been suckered into buying have been hopeless and die in their first winter…too wet in the UK. They need long, dry, cold winters as they get in the mid western United States to survive.  My friend Rob Cole at Meadow Farm Nursery is selecting open pollinated variants and testing them for the factors required in a British garden worthy plant and is pretty close to releasing a couple on the market but, in the meantime, the Echibeckia has been introduced from the United States to satisfy our desire for a hardy, early and long flowering perennial that is hardy and disease resistant. As the name implies, it is an intergeneric cross between Rudbeckia hirta and Echinacea purpurea. So what’s in the box????????DSC_0009

Certainly well packaged by Hayloft Plants; arrived safe and well grown……DSC_0010

far bigger than expected, at least 25cm high and one even beginning to flower!DSC_0012

However, we are going to have to wait until next summer to find out a) has it survived and b) was it worth it!

My Garden This Week – The Best Bits!

DSC_0024I have been trying to take a good photo of Salvia uliginosa and have found it very difficult so this is the best I have managed so far but it really doesn’t do it justice. The colour is simply exquisite and it flowers for months. The bees love it and it is a full 1.8m high and wide which makes a wonderful border statement. Believe it or not, it is thriving in one of the worst parts of the garden overshadowed by trees and in sticky clay soil, all the things it should hate!DSC_0028

Aconitum carmichaelii, the common Monkshood, has got a fearsome reputation for being the most poisonous plant in the garden, particularly since a gardener died of it’s effects earlier this year. It is, however, a rather beautiful and statuesque plant, just don’t touch it and then eat your sandwiches!DSC_0034

The front border is filled with colour from the salvias, echinaceas, monardas and heleniums with the fresh foliage of the asters and chrysanths supporting them. Everything props each other up and avoids flopping. DSC_0036

Amongst the asters is this rather unusual Solidago ‘Fireworks’ which is not your average Golden Rod but a more refined version which works well with the purples, mauves and crimsons of the asters which are now beginning to open.DSC_0046

Best hoverfly attractor plant? This Lysimachia ephemerum, the Willow Leaved Loosestrife, gets this year’s award. Yes, better than Verbena, salvias or scabious and at least on a par with echinacea for attracting pollinators. Never seen it without something crawling over it!DSC_0054

The ever reliable Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii which lights up the borders in August and goes on for weeks and weeks. I wouldn’t be without it. Shorter than ‘Goldsturm’ and a brighter yellow in my opinion.DSC_0057

I do find it easy to ignore the more mundane plants in the garden and take them for granted, particularly those which have been there for years and just perform without fussing, feeding or propping, things like this Echinops ritro, a reliable drought resistant, clay loving plant if ever there was one. Loved by bees, flies, beetles and all manner of creepie crawlies, it must be overloaded with pollen and nectar. It is not until you look closely, really closely at those blue balls that you see why.DSC_0061

Each flower ball is comprised of hundreds of tiny florets, each one packed with food and drink. Isn’t nature wonderful!