Six on Saturday

The evergreen Agapanthus africanus have just begun to flower and they look stunning this year. I have reduced my stock to just three plants in 20 litre plastic pots which are now in their third year since splitting them. 16, 18 and 20 flower stems which is the most ever. The heads are fully 30cm across on stems 1.2m high. They make quite a statement!

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ almost at full throttle now with her big beautiful creamy flowerheads being cradled by hazel supports beneath. I love this shrub but it does need a lot of water and support to do well. Quite a needy plant in my garden. Others tell me it is trouble free in theirs. It’s all about the soil!

Just behind Annabelle sits pink Linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’, alongside his common purple cousin and the indestructable and long lasting pink Diascia personata which should definitely be grown in more gardens. I haven’t met anyone who knows this plant which is such a shame as it is such a good doer.

This is an extra pic to show how well the combination works.

This was controversial at my garden opening recently. It is the true Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, the root of which has been used since Roman times to treat insomnia. It is a very tall plant, 1.8m high, with a beautiful pinky white umbellifer flower which has an odd sweet smell which, as I found out, is not to everyone’s liking! I think is is rather musky and spicy but one visitor described it as the smell of “wet pants”!

The Petchoas (a cross between a Petunia and a Calibrachoa) in the basket are doing rather better now but not showing much sign of trailing yet. The colours still don’t excite me, I find them too subtle and a bit dull for the impression a basket by the front door is supposed to make. I think they work better in pots at low level. I won’t be using them in baskets again!

Some years ago I grew seeds of common Scabiosa atropurpurea, a distant cousin of the common field scabious, which thrives in my dry summer clay and self seeds everywhere. They now pop up in every variation of red, pink, purple, white and cream. One of the best plants for pollinators, tall and self supporting, long lasting, unfussy and beautiful. All from a single free packet of seeds on the front of a gardening magazine.

That’s my six for this week.

Have a great weekend


Six on Saturday

It’s been cold, wet and windy all week and I have spent most of it indoors going stir crazy! Despite my best efforts at catching up on all those jobs I promised myself I would do on rainy days, most of them didn’t get done. Lockdown 1.0 was wonderful in April and May, I was doing 10 hour days outside. Lockdown 2.0 is not much fun in the rain!

Still, the garden continues to cheer me and some species just go on and on regardless. These Scabiosa atropurpurea in shades of pink and purple have been in flower since May and may not stop flowering until I am forced to cut back the old growth in February.

I swear they keep changing colour from year to year. These were once all ‘Derry’s Black’ but after three years are now various pinks with just a few of the dark ones left. Some flowerheads are tight and neatly contained while others are open and blousy.

In the same border are the remains of my Echinacea pallida which have been a big attraction for our local Goldfinch population who perch precariously atop the seedhead, even in the wind and rain, to get at the seeds.

Ten years ago I made the mistake of planting some Callendula officinalis and have never managed to get rid of them since! They are real survivors and resist all attempts to eradicate them. They hide away unseen until , one day, ta dah! there they are again, in full flower and spreading their seed for yet another generation to come. They clash with everything else around them, grow absolutely anywhere, in any soil, in cracks and crevices, and literally never stop flowering. Some might call that the perfect garden plant!

The purple beech hedge is always the last to open and the last to change colour and, as it does, it provides this wonderful tapestry of golden yellows, greens and purple for a few weeks before finally turning brown for the winter.

I think perennial wallflowers are one of the hardest working plants in any garden and, despite their short life, are very good value and one of the easiest to propagate from cuttings. This Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’ was given to me by a good friend this year as a tiny cutting and has flowered its socks off all summer in shades of salmon pink, brick red and purple. The pale yellow variegated margins of the foliage add interest and mark this plant out as something a little different.

Well, that’s me done for another week.

Enjoy your weekend and stay safe.