Stowaways and pots…

Eucomis Sparkling Burgundy in the blue pot, and Cestrum elegans behind, Oloron Sainte Marie, April 2021

For a tonic, I thoroughly recommend Eucomis. Expensive, but it will last and gradually increase your stock over the years, and what you get is stunning colour as the spring growth starts, followed by huge flowerspikes that last for weeks. It has wound up the competition with my Cestrum elegans, which is loving the new home. I have never seen it flower like this before. It’s a wee bit straggy, because it was a badly treated plant when I bought it, so I will carefully shape it next year to complement the very beautiful burgundy flowers.

The bright sunshine hides a really cold wind, and we have got the tailend of the Northern European cold snap. But, this week temperatures are slowly climbing, so the effects of the sunshine will encourage Spring growth, which is always exciting. However, with the packing of an entire garden (almost) into pots, there have been many survivors, but also some casualties. Although Plectranthus ecklonii ‘Erma’ is always slow to emerge in the Spring, I am fairly sure that it has had it- not enough cover in the colder nights and though I am still hoping against hope, I have a bad feeling about it. And being a South African native, it is busy flowering down there, and there is no seed available yet. So, patience and waiting is still the game. Just to remind you of the glory of it, see below… it flowers late, but before the flowers, the foliage is soft and really decorative…it doesn’t want baking sun and needs moisture, so is super happy in a pot with overwintering in a protected, dry, space- which is why I lost it.

Plectranthus ecklonii ‘Erma’, Tostat, October 2019

But another hot season plant has done really well, so well that I have split it into two pots. Russellia equisetiformis can look a bit like an unruly clump of green string, but don’t be put off, it flowers like a train for months with sprays of coral-red trumpets and is completely no bother- except for some moisture and not being wanting to be entirely baked in sun all day. It took a while to settle in with me, but it is such a gorgeous sight, I forgive it. It’s now decorating a large pot near the raised beds in the back barn garden. It’s ok outside in the winter, though I usually park it under something bigger for a bit of protection, and I don’t think it would do winter wet very well.

Russellia equisetiformis in the Big Pot, Oloron Sainte Marie, April 2017
Russellia equisetiformis, back in Tostat, July 2018

Another plant which looks like dead string in the winter, and is just coming to life is Muehlenbeckia complexa. In the next 6 weeks or so, it will gush forth with hundreds of tiny, green glossy leaves on very thin trailing stems, and it is a very pretty thing, except in winter. I bought this in a tiny pot, practically dead, and had no idea what it was. It’s a survivor. I am having an experiment with it’s bigger cousin, Muehlenbeckia grandiflora, as ground cover under trees, so I will report back on how that goes.

Muehlenbeckia complexa in the other big blue pot, Oloron Sainte Marie, April 2021

In beginning the big job of the ‘pots’, there have been some stowaways which I am very grateful for. Many small foxgloves, self sown from mother plants last year, have turned up, and I am busy lifting them and planting them out, hoping for a good number of adult plants this year and next. Also, a naughty but lovely small creeping daisy, Erigeron karvinkianus, has crept into pots since last year, and will add to events in the back garden this summer. You can never have enough if it, and it can always be ripped out if it gets too boisterous. Such a cheerful plant.

Meantime, Andy has been shovelling gravel. We now have a golden gravel surface in the courtyard, or Oloron Plage as we are calling it…adds a touch of class. We just have to get the cats not to use it as a sparkling toilet. Good luck with that!

Last of the tulips on Oloron Plage, Oloron Sainte Marie, April 2021

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