I am a sucker for Salvias and this latest addition to my little collection is just gorgeous. I was wandering around the Floral Pavilion at BBC Gardener’s World Live telling myself not to buy anything, that I have no room, that plants are too expensive at shows like this, that I would rather grow things from seeds or cuttings, that…….and then I saw it! A hardy microphylla variety, ‘Trelissick Creamy Yellow’. It was planted within a group of hardy herbaceous perennials on the stand and I managed to buy the last one for £4.50 which I told myself was a bargain for such a beauty. Now all I have to do is find somewhere to put it!
The 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Sometimes the oddest things happen for no reason. This Monarda doesn’t know when to stop and has produced double decker flowers. It is only showing it’s Lamiaceae family tendencies like it’s cousins Phlomis, Verbena, Salvia, Nepeta and Stachys but, who knows, Thompson & Morgan might make me rich yet!
The 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.
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. 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. 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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’.
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!
There is something about red. I just love it. I seem to be drawn to it. It is warm and ripe and hot. I have a lot of reds in the garden. Here are just a few.
This pretty Salvia is in flower at the moment right outside the garden room window alongside the popular ‘Hot Lips’.
You might have read about my love of chillies and this particular Cayenne variety which grows so well in my greenhouse
And finally, our scrumptious and reliable autumn raspberry ‘Brice’ .
Just can’t resist red!