This Phormium, now pretty big at more than 1.5m wide and high, came with us from Scotland fourteen years ago, and has never flowered before. There was a point to all that rain we had. That is the only reason I can think of for it suddenly springing to life in this way. The flowers are really attractive, like big comma-shapes reaching for the sky. The spikes have arranged to meet each other, in a very companionable way, which looks spectacular against the wide sky.
Forget the roses this year- largely beaten and drowned by rain and storm. But other things have loved the strange weather. I loved the look of Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’ in May, despite the soaking conditions. I grew these from seed last autumn, and was pretty doubtful about their weediness when I planted them out in March. But I have eaten my hat. These plants have adored the weather and have flowered non-stop since late April.
Here they are today, just caught by the early sun, which has turned them more of a cherry-red colour. What a bargain for a packet of seed and they may have flopped a bit but have largely held their own.
Kniphofia ‘Timothy’ has had a rather vagrant existence in the garden. Never quite settling and several moves later, I split all the clumps and had another go at finding them a home. They have adored the rain, and are in great shape, even flowering much earlier than usual, and also flowering well. It’s a bit of a mystery to me why they are so moody here, as it seems to me we should get on really well. Maybe they want to stay put, and I should let them.
In the stumpery, where the ferns and shade-lovers have likewise enjoyed the wet, but now are longing for some warmth I think, a fairly new introduction of Mahonia is looking splendid. With an impossibly long name, Mahonia eurybracteata subsp.ganpinenesis ‘Soft Caress’ is totally different from almost every other Mahonia. The clue is in the name. No spikey bits or prickles, just soft green foliage draped beautifully around a central stem. Mine is about 2 years old, so only a baby really, but I adore the gentle effect it creates amongst the ferns and, yes, a touch of bindweed grows at the back. ‘Soft Caress’ hasn’t flowered yet, maybe next year.
In the re-vamped and re-planted dry areas, I planted a new groundcover perennial this Spring, Ononis spinosa. Looked a bit dull at the outset in February, and, coming back from Spain 2 weeks ago, it had been totally submerged in triffid-like weed growth, which I swear wasn’t even visible before we left. So, post-hacking, the plants have re-emerged and I am really pleased with them so far. I say that because their real strength should show through in dry conditions rather than what we have had. Nevertheless, sprawling nicely to form a loose clump about 0.80cms all round, and currently flowering with small pink pea-flowers, they look promising. More on them later in the summer.
Two plant companions that have not enjoyed the two dry springs we have had, have been very happy with life in Tostat this year. I always rave about Telekia speciosa. Tall, stately, custard-yellow daisies that last for ages in the garden, with huge vivid green leaves at their feet- it is a great plant, and easy from seed. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ was one of my bargain-basement purchases years ago, and is now a striking 2m high and across- and in very fine fettle. I love cream and green.
Rain scores well for plants- if not humans.