Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Continuing the search for colour.

The weather has finally broken and the temperatures have dropped quite drastically, the garden is showing  massive damage from both slugs and lily beetle due to having been unavoidably neglected for a month earlier in the year, you can't put back what has been eaten!

A view through "Buddleia Alley"
A couple of Buddleias still flowering seen through a pot of lilies. This passage between the house and garage actually faces south but the garage itself plus several large trees on the other side of it pretty well negate a true southern aspect. There are five Buddleias on this stretch Hydrangea petiolaris,  Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Veitchii') and a Pyracantha all of which have to be cut back severely every few years, not only to allow passage but also to be able to paint the house. 

Buddleja davidii 'Pink Delight'
Although I have at least seven Buddleias, for colour this remains my favourite. Next we have three new lilies.

Lilium 'Anastasia' an Oriental-Trumpet Lily, OT Hybrid, Orienpet Lily whatever you want to call it.

Lillium 'Casablanca' a florists favourite.

Lilium 'Robert Swanson' another Oriental-Trumpet Lily.

  A few years ago I would not have looked at lilies as I thought they were far too artificial in their appearance, however, I now find even the large ones indispensable. I first tried them in pots and then after flowering I moved them into the open ground in the herbaceous borders as they have long been included as "cottage garden" plants by many gardeners. I am now a complete convert, they are easy to grow giving spectacular colour at the back end of the summer. There is only one cloud on the horizon, lily beetle which, until this year, I have kept in check mainly by pulling the adults off the plant and crushing them although I also usually spray as the plants emerge and find that two applications a year helps to keep them in check. 

Geranium 'Eureka Blue'

Geranium nodosum 'Swish Purple'

Geranium 'Rozanne'

Hardy Geraniums must must be one of the most useful plants in the gardener's arsenal these are just a few of the one's I grow which are flowering now, G.'Eureka Blue' and G.nodosum 'Swish Purple' I have been growing for a few years now but I must admit I am very impressed with my new plants of G. 'Rozanne' they definitely do seem to carry on flowering, G.'Eureka Blue' is finishing now, but I will continue to watch 'Rozanne', which I have planted in a number of situations, with interest.

Althaea officinalis

Hydrangea aspera (Villosa Group)

Rudbeckia hirta
A few more splashes of colour come from the Marshmallow plant, Althaea officinalis from seed, Hydrangea aspera which is only a young plant and on which, for some reason, the whole of the lead shoot died back to ground level over the winter. I cut it back and the side shoots have developed and flowered whilst several new flowerless lead shoots have shot up the middle to twice the height making it impossible to produce a decent picture of the whole. Rudbeckia hirta became a source of amusement, it was the only seedling from a batch of seed sown two winters ago, I planted it out and then began to wonder whether this very fast growing plant with the feathery leaves which didn't somehow look like Rudbeckia was in fact a rogue cannabis plant which had sprung up, anyway it eventually flowered to everyone's relief.

"Frosted" Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea'
Growing as a perfect foil for the Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' next to it, every summer without fail the Berberis is covered in powdery mildew, I used to worry about it but now just think of it as its "Summer Frosting"

Meconopsis paniculata 'Ghunsa group'.
Still providing interest as the monocarpic plant dies back these "hairy" seed heads are quite stunning in their own way.

Clematis tangutica 'Lampton Park'
One of my favourite climbers, Clematis tangutica 'Lampton Park' has to be severely cut back every year otherwise it would soon take over the front of the house, as it is now it obscures half the porch and one of the front windows although it has been trimmed back recently to avoid this happening............... rampant!

Maurandya purpusii (Climbing snapdragon)

Parnassia palustris

  Grass of Parnassus, definitely a plant of damp meadows and woodlands. No longer common in England it can still be seen in Scotland and Ireland. I am extremely fortunate that this year  I have had both the Parnassia and Primula scotica in flower, both of which are seen growing together in the North of  Scotland. Known as the Bog Stars these beautiful plants seem to be very widespread in the northern Hemisphere. Legend has it that the cattle on Mount Parnassus in Greece rather liked to eat it so it became a "grass" and is therefore known as 'Grass of Parnassus'. My few plants are very small but I am hoping that they may colonise.

Cyclamen hederifolium and companion.
I was messing around taking a few close-ups and didn't spot the intruder until I viewed the shots later on.

Angelica 'Ebony'- Not quite
As a Chelsea introduction Angelica 'Ebony' became very popular and is still seen in many show-gardens, this however is a seedling cross with Angelica archangelica and is roughly twice the height it should be if it was 'Ebony'. Angelicas seed themselves all over my garden and I now discard anything which is not red with some pleasing results.

For Peat's Sake!
A good friend sent me a copy of an article by Monty Don from the Gardener's World magazine mainly because he knew it would give me apoplexy and he succeeded. In it he states "nobody with a hint of environmental responsibility should consider using peat in their garden" and then goes on to mention vandalism of wetlands etc. Nobody wants to damage precious wetland environments, but when you consider that most of northern Europe is one massive peat bog it must be that peat is probably one of the most sustainable resources on the planet. He admits that it is a good growing medium, in fact I have yet to see any RHS trial or even those carried out on such as Beechgrove Garden TV where peat-based composts do not prove to be superior to those such as coir-based, not only that they are cheaper. Please follow this link to a very informative piece more importantly written by someone without an axe to grind who has researched their subject thoroughly and sets the facts down as they are. When you have read it maybe you will agree with me that peat should have a future rather than become a casualty of environmentalists' propaganda.


  1. Your garden is still looking good Rick. I do like a decent hardy geranium, I find the best doers in my garden are G. sanguineum. Useful for scrambling through taller plants. I've read on many occasions about the Angelica producing green seedlings, it's the reason I didn't give it a go. I've enough weeds to be going on with, I don't need anymore!
    The first Cyclamen is in flower here too, it's all downwards from here me thinks! Off now to read that post on Peat. Thanks for providing the link, I don't quite understand it all and hopefully this will help me get a better understanding.

    1. Interesting read Rick - cleared up a few points for me.

    2. Hi Angie, thanks for your comments. I have G. sanguineum in a sunny spot in the front garden and it does well running along the top of a retaining wall. I used to grow Angelica archangelica before I had A. 'Ebony' and allowed a few specimens to reach maturity every year as they give good architectural interest, the fact the two have hybridised now throws up anything from 3' to 10' plants which carry varying amounts of red, if I don't like them in the first year they are disposed of. Glad you enjoyed the peat information, it just proves, in case we didn't already know, that you can't take what is propounded in the media at face value, for whatever reason.

  2. You still have a lot of beautiful things in bloom Rick. Grass of Parnassus grows wild on a beach on Lake Huron, a few miles from here.
    The opposition to peat moss does not seem to have caught on on this side of the Atlantic. It is still used extensively. Most of the peat moss for sale in Canada and the US (at least in the East) comes from where I was brought up in eastern Québec. At a house my parent used to have there was about a foot of soil and below was peat most for many feet. Some ferns growing there looked tropical.

    1. You are lucky to have a colony of Parnassia so close to you Alain, I would have to travel quite a way to view it in the wild here. In the case of peat some factions in the UK appear to be suffering from "green hysteria" which strangely doesn't seem to affect anyone else in Europe, I think it must be our own unique brand of misinformation which causes it.

  3. You mention your new liking for lilies.
    Changing my own garden tastes have been a feature of my gardening life. For examples I love to grow dahlias in my herbaceous borders but it is not many years ago I would have made scathing comments about them!
    Good on you Rick for your campaign to rehabilitate peat.

    1. It is funny how our tastes change Roger, I am still not a great fan of large dahlias or chrysanthemums for that matter but I do very much like the 'Bishop of Llandaff' and all his children. Regarding the question of peat..........Come the Revolution!

  4. Having used a few peat free composts I remain unimpressed, and if this is the future for gardening in the UK then I can see a lot less plants being grown on. So many beautiful plants blooming in your garden at the moment, especially the lilies. I suffer with the same lily beetle problem, they are a complete menace here are about the only bug that makes me want to reach for a spray!

    1. Thanks for your comment Paula, I love my lilies but I must admit I find lily beetle very frustrating, you have to remember to get one hand underneath them when plucking them off the plants as the crafty beggars always flip onto their backs and you have no chance of seeing them against the soil. They start on the fritillarias and then move onto the cardiocrinums which really antagonises me, hence the spray.

  5. You have a lot of colour in your garden :)

    In the past, I didn't like lilies too, I thought they were good only as cut flowers that you can buy in flower shop and that they don't fit in the garden. I completely changed my mind, they look as great in the gardens as in a vase :) Your lilies are beautiful, I especially like 'Robert Swanson'.

  6. Thanks Dewberry, 'Robert Swanson' is my new favourite, it is meant to be a tall grower but in its first year, although flowering well, it is only about 900mm high but should increase year on year. I have just updated my Lily Page if you would like to have a look.

  7. Hi Rick
    You have encouraged me to persevere with Lilies. I did take a few from Aberdeen in pots, they flowered well but we were forever picking off the Lily beetles, good to see you can keep on top of it
    I remember you talking about peat in the past and have to agree regarding the results obtained with compost where peat has been added.

    1. I do think they are worth it Alistair, I had more damage than usual this year because I had to neglect the garden for about a month, but in a normal year you can keep on top of them as the adults are certainly easy to spot. Unfortunately although many of the top professionals use peat based composts it would seem that the so called conservationists seem to have the stage at the moment, mainly, I feel, because it's trendy. Forgot to mention on your post that you borders are looking very good, I can't believe this is your first year.