Monday, 19 August 2013

As colours fade.

As I no longer grow bedding plants colour is becoming a bit short in what is essentially a spring garden although there is still plenty of contrast from plants and shrubs with silver or purple leaves. Currently the mainstays are the lilies but I have also included a few more pictures of  mid-late summer flowering plants which are helping to add a splash of contrast.

Much underrated and seemingly out of fashion Spireas (Astilbe) make excellent border and waterside plants, not to be confused with the shrubby genus Spirea. Goat's-beards, thrive in full sun or partial shade as long as conditions are damp, although, once established, they will tolerate more dryness or shade than they are often given credit for. They range from white through pink to very deep red, the stems and young growth are often red in the darker flowered cultivars.They are easily propagated by division in the spring as they come into growth.

Asarina procumbens

Asarina purpusii
 I actually acquired the seed of Asarina purpusii as Maurandya purpusii in a society lucky-dip, but together with Asarina procumbens, which I have always grown, these antirrhinums make an interesting, if not flower packed, wall trough. I love the soft velvety leaves of Asarina procumbens and the bees love both plants............perfect. I have also grown Asarina scandens which is similar to A.purpusii. Asarina procumbens will overwinter outdoors in a mild winter. All are easily grown from seed sown in very early spring and treated as a half-hardy annual or, better still, can be grown as half-hardy perennials if over-wintered inside producing much bigger plants.
Lilium 'Lavon'
This cultivar is just one of several which represent an interesting development in lilies. These crosses between Oriental Lilies and Trumpet Lilies are know as Giant Lilies, Orienpet Lilies, Oriental Trumpet Lilies or even Tree Lilies and many claims are made about how they will develop to enormous size. Although last year the stems only achieved a fairly average height compared with other lilies, this year they have become much stronger.   

Lilium 'Night Flyer'
An Asiatic hybrid which is quite happy in this position, unfortunately the sun was not catching it when the picture was taken.

On the animal front a badger has managed to find its way onto the top of a large pot and from there to rip down and shred to pieces the metal and wood suet block feeder that hangs.....sorry hung........... a few feet above it upsetting the pot and emptying its contents all over the pathway. Quite enterprising in a destructive sort of way!!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Summer border snapshot.

The weather is now mixed heavy showers and sunshine, in fact it is probably the best growing weather we could ever hope for and the weeds just love it!

 This is a section of the chaos which is my main herbaceous border in the "cottage garden" style and below is a brief description of the plants which make it up.

Cotinus coggygria 'Grace'

 Going from left to right the shrub at the back is Cotinus coggygria 'Grace', I absolutely love this shrub but it grows so rapidly that it generally swamps everything round it, whether lit by the sun or touched with an early frost it always looks good. This year it was pruned back very hard, in fact pretty much pollarded which, as it is always a late starter and combined with the cold spring, has meant that it has struggled to get going this year.  

 The allium seed heads have been left for the moment and there is a general miss-mash of  Aquilegia seed heads and self-seeded Angelica 'Ebony' (see previous post). Next are some cream Leucanthemum x superbum 'Broadway Lights' and Crocosmia 'Lucifer' intermingled with Lilium regale which, although I grow many lilies, does not really shine with me, probably not in the ideal spot. The big daisy is Telekia speciosa which I have made the mistake of planting in the border, it is probably better off being planted as a specimen group of three or more where its giant leaves can be seen to full effect.

Hesperis matronalis
 The gap between the Telekia and the tatty bamboo right at the back, which is due to come out, was originally filled with one of my favourite plants Hesperis matronalis, Sweet Rocket, which is now over and would normally be left in for the seed heads to do their duty. This year however the foliage turned almost the same colour as the flowers with the worst attack of powdery mildew I have ever seen so I reluctantly removed it.
 Next we have the deep purple almost black foliage of Cimicifuga racemosa 'Brunette' which is on the point of flowering, the white spikes of flower make a wonderful contrast. Cimicifuga comes from the Latin: cimex - 'bug' and fugio - 'run away from' : Bug-bane, its common name, really neat......... what do they do but change the genus to Actaea!

Oriental-Trumpet Lily Hybrid  'Lavon'
  To the far right of the picture at the back we have Lilium 'Lavon' which is pictured above in its first year with a rather unsightly cane giving support, this year however it is strong enough to be self supporting.

Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'
At the front of the border is Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy' pictured a few years ago above, it always adds some late colour to the border, I normally give it the "Chelsea Chop" but forgot to do it this year so it is on the point of flowering now. It appears to me that some plants have not only caught up after the cold spring but seem to be coming into flower slightly prematurely.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

Another favourite which can be just seen at the side of the Sedum is Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' which is covered in small blue flowers very similar to Myosotis in spring.

Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Willmott's Ghost'
This is a self-sown plant poking its way through, seedlings appear every year generally not too far from the parent. It was raised by a Miss Ellen Willmott who developed Warley Place in the 19th century. She was a formidable lady by all accounts and many stories are told about her, one of which is that 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' got its name from the fact that she always carried its seed with her and if visiting a garden which she thought was boring she used to broadcast a bit of seed around to liven it up! Listed as perennial in my seed catalogue, but I believe they are actually biennial. Very sharp spines!

Borago officianalis
Also poking its way through is the annual culinary herb, Borago officianalis, which is an absolute cracker in the right spot, the flower colour is stunning and the hairy stems and foliage look great in the sun. Seeds itself all over the place but tends to grow better in company, if on its own it tends to flop about a bit with me. There is also a perennial member of the genus Borago laxiflora. (syn. Anchusa laxiflora.)

I do hope you have enjoyed this trip round a part of my main border please call again.