Since I last wrote I have been to Gent (lovely city with some lovely courtyard gardens like this one…)
seen our local heron go punting…
and Mayweek madness has passed from the bottom of my garden.
So, with Chelsea Flower Show now but a distant memory, my garden eases into high summer with aplomb – some reliable old timers are doing their stuff as always, but also there are some new plants I haven’t grown before, (or managed to coax into flowering before), which I am enjoying for the first time.
First for some old stalwarts….
Agapanthus are amazing plants. When I moved to my current garden I inherited a clump of a small white unnamed one, which survived shade and very hard winters unscathed. And it was beautiful as well…
Naturally I immediately resolved to grow lots more!
The Victorians led us to believe that Agapanthus were tender and difficult and could only be by the seaside in lots of endless sunshine. In fact they seem to tough it out in most spots. I have them growing in semi-shade and full sun with equal vigour.
The two big things to know and remember about the genus is that they dislike disturbance or division (they like nothing better than to get nice and congested in a pot) and they like to be fed – tomato feed is perfect for the flowering season. Other than that they are undemanding and very long-lived and so elegant.
Many people are scared of hot colours in the garden, or announce they won’t have any yellow or oranges and reds in their gardens. This is a terrible shame, and means that they miss out on some of the loveliest garden plants and some wonderful performers.
High on this list is another great doer, Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’ – a stunning day-lily first brought to my attention by Dan Pearson and actually beloved of everyone – famously popular with good reason – a wonderful burnt red for high summer brilliance in the hot border, tough as old boots and very long lived – and uncomplaining.
Another great yellow and equally tough plant is Asphodeline. It is tall and spindly and self seeds around but takes up very little foot-print space – it has a gauzy quality which is very valuable in the garden – you can see other plants through a haze of its subtle yellow. It likes to be baked, along with my iris rhisomes, and they therefore make a good pairing following on from each other. I read about this plant a few years ago as a great plant for drought tolerance in Beth Chatto’s Dry Garden book. I am now pleased to have a good little clump performing well, and my mother is growing on another lot from seeds I collected last autumn.
Another high summer plant I would not be without is Buddleja. This established one is Buddleja davidii ‘Royal Red’
and I planted a second one last autumn Buddleja davidii ‘Pink Delight’ which is just coming out into colour now.
These are beautiful tough plants, beloved of butterflies. The key thing to remember is to cut them down quite drastically each year otherwise a single plant can become an enormous tree with very few flowers perched at the top. Cut it down to about knee height every March and it will grow much better and flower more prolifically.
In my front garden I have inherited an old established Yukka – I think its Yukka filamentosa. These plants are incredibly tough, thriving on almost neglect. Here is mine flowering last summer,
and just about to come into flower yesterday.
So much for the old-timers I already love – now for the new comers. First up is Astelia. This is a wonderful spiky, exotic looking plant I first read about in a great book I recommend called Sharp Gardening by Christopher Holliday. Then I noticed it cropping up in garden designer’s lists for exotic-looking plants that can also thrive in shade.
So this is my Astelia ‘Silver Sword’. It is aptly named as the leaves are indeed very silvery.
However, it didn’t seem too happy in the shade, and seemed to be sulking a bit, so I have moved it into a spot where it gets morning sunshine and it looks much happier – it also shines brilliantly!
Penstemon ‘Raven’ is a new Penstemon recommended by many people, so I thought I would at last diverge from my standard Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ – and it has been worth the change because the colour is superb.
I have also grown a new sweet pea Lathyrus ‘Lord Nelson’, seen here with Lathyrus ‘Matucana’ on the left. Both have knock-out scent and dramatic colouring.
My Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ has finally decided to flower, (after three years of waiting) and it was worth the wait for such glorious flowers.
Another plant from which I have waited several years for flowers is the very trendy Phlomis russeliana. In early summer it has wonderful yellow whorls..
followed now with wonderful space-age looking seed heads.
So all in all the garden is looking pleasingly happy and healthy at the moment, with the benefit of a wet spring and plenty of good summer downpours, and lots of warm sunshine to boot.
And this is what the cat makes of it all….Happy Gardening for another month!