Sometimes you can take your plants for granted. Guided by the fickle eye that searches out the new things, the babies, and particular favourites, the old favourites or maybe usurped favourites can fade into insignificance. Perhaps it is a form of garden dysmorphia…like only seeing the things that need to be done as opposed to seeing the whole for the lovely and changing scene it is.
This week or so, with our sporadic and very kind downfalls of rain, old favourites have had the chance to re-appear in the spotlight. The rain has been kind because it has been heavy, short-lived, very little wind and no hail which had been gloomily promised by those prophets of doom, the weather-people. And even better, in between the showers, the sun has come back out, so the garden looks as if it has had a stiff drink rather than a dowsing.
Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’ has two other nom-de-plumes, ‘Maiden’s Blush’ and also, ‘Cuisse de Nymphe’ in French, which sounds faintly naughty. It is a wonderful rose, blooming no matter what for months on end, with the small roses gathering nicely in swags and drapes all over it. It can have a monstrous side, and ours has had a recent haircut to calm it down a bit, but it is a very charming rose on the whole. Not planted by me, it easily slips into the slightly ignored-old-favourite bracket, but it deserves better.
I have any amount of the red Valerian, which, depending on my mood and the colouring, stays or gets the chop regularly in the garden. I love it in dry Springs, like this one, when the colouring is a strong red and the growth upright. When we have wet Springs, it goes a rather sickly brick-red, which I hate, and flops all over the place. It brings out the dictator in me.
But the white Valerian, Centranthus ruber ‘Albus’, is another story. Not anything like as promiscuous as the red, I savour every tiny bit and nurse it through tough times. It is so airy and pretty, cheap as chips and just as tasty. It makes a nice, frothy tone, and it is not unpleasant when fading, so all in all it survives the chop. And the bloody cranesbill, Geranium sanguineum, comes into the same category. It gets ripped out all the time as a control mechanism, but if treated brutally, it is a great doer, and for a hot, dry-as-a-bone place, it is perfect.
This was a fiddle from seed, Geranium albanum, but is in danger of becoming an old-favourite when only 2 years old. Lots of it came up, and so I have tried it in two very different places- under a tree, in semi-shade in dry soil, and ditto, but in moist conditions. The dry-as-a-bone set are doing really well, although they looked a bit touch and go last year. The others are fighting against a colony of annual weeds which I need to clear- and will this week while we have the rain. But what is curious, is that the flowers on the same stem are very different. One is pink and could be mistaken for your bog standard Geranium x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink’ which I do have plenty of already. The other is ‘Albanum’, as promised, with the fine purple veining and blue stamens. Maybe I have some naughtiness happening in my geranium population.
And this little Cistus x hybridus’Gold Prize’, has only just flowered for the first time and is still fairly tiny, but I really love it. I fell for it from a website, not always the best way to find new varieties, and last year it was truly pathetic. The yellow variegation looked ill and the whole tiny plant was a serious non-event. But Cistus can be a bit like that with me- all the plants I have which now look glorious, had a tough start. So, I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and I think it will come good as a favourite. It had better get a move on though.