Whilst we were away in England for a family wedding, summer arrived with no notice and a sense of vengeance- it was out to get us for our wet, cold spring and early summer (which wasn’t). At least the vengeance could be felt when we got back- toasted and burnt roses, in fact, toasted and burnt was about the top and bottom of it. We arrived back in a spectacular storm, with heavy hail hammering on the roof of our plane as it came into land. So we were met by a garden that was toasted and burnt, also utterly decked by the rain, hail and wind. Oh joy.
But recovery set in. Some plants have really suffered, so this may mean that they don’t get a second life if they can’t handle the increasingly temperamental weather we seem to experience. Roses have been a total dud this year, and one new planting has had to be rescued and potted up in the recovery ward. The earlier lilies, Lilium regale, really hated what was on offer and turned to a mushy brown fairly swiftly.
These extravagantly coloured and shaped Lilium Flore Pleno, have arrived later than usual this year and seem to be coping just fine. The leopard-spottiness of them is quite adorable to me, though I can see why they might not appeal across the board. The small seeds, sitting like brown buttons, in the leaf nodes are a real bonus. Many will germinate in the pots alongside the parent plants, and I just leave them there for a couple of years to bulk up and then plant them on.
In June, it was possible to take a photograph of Romneya coulteri straight in the eye- that astonishing fried-egg look of pure white and sunny yellow looking almost blue in the early morning light. But three weeks later, and the whole plant has galloped away, far away from me even on a ladder. This plant is, of course, a thug, but such a lovely one. I am hoping that a big bush of Lonicera fragrantissima will manage it on my behalf.
This small Salvia buchananii is a delight. Planted in the wrong place by me, and stupendously ignored for a year or two as well, it hung on. I now realise that it is not a Salvia as per our normal understanding of Salvias. It likes damp shade really, though it might cope in a Scottish summer just fine. I now have it in a medium pot, and so it gets lots of water and attention- but it is really worth it, velvety sharp pink flowers, with delicate hairs making the plant look very lustrous. Lustrous is a good word too for the deep green, shiny leaves. A really good plant.
Here is a very happy situation. I love ‘Phlomis Samia’ with its big, heart-shaped leaves and tall, dusky pink flowerspikes- and there, something brilliant has happened, probably thanks to the rain. I bought 3 small plants of Lychnis coronaria ‘Gardener’s World’ about 4 years ago. They didn’t make it through our summer, and I really regretted that as I liked the idea of the double carmine flowers, without the species’ painfully massive self-seeding that gets out of control with me. But here it is. Maybe it was growing slowly all the time, hidden by the Phlomis and the rain has brought it out this year. What a miracle.
What a difference a month makes. This expensive, but really worth it, bulb, ‘Eucomis Sparkling Burgundy’ is one of my favourite summer events. First, from about mid April, the big purple-red leaves make a dramatic appearance, getting larger and taller, finally reaching at least 60-75 cms long. Deep down in the bulb, the pineapple-shaped flowers start to form in June, and by July, the flowers are towering over the leaves, nearly, and the leaves have turned a gorgeous olive-green, leaving the stage to the purple-red flowerspikes. These then take several weeks to slowly open, small flower by small flower, so all in all you are looking at 4 months at least of great pleasure watching this terrific performance. They are easily over-wintered in a sheltered place, and kept fairly dry, to be brought out in the Spring with a good shower of water, and possibly, re-potting. So easy, so fabulous.