Summer hotch-potch…

Alcathaea suffrutescens ‘Parkfrieden’, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

My Aberdeen granny was a true Scottish granny, in the Nina Conti sense- but with a bit more of an ‘ahem’ about her, if you know what I mean and a sizable dose of general disapproval. But she made the best fried haddock, Scottish tablet, Stovies and, of course, what she termed ‘Hotch-Potch’, a soup which would have kept an army marching for days. So, in her memory, this post is a hotch-potch, a mixture of what’s going on in the garden right now.

I don’t know if the off-on, mainly cool with rain, summer that we are having is typical as this is our first one here, but if it is, it’s a second-chance saloon for me as I may be able to grow all the plants that I loved which couldn’t handle the dry and heat of our Tostat garden.

And today, another of my Alcathaea cuttings came into flower, and hallelujah, it was the variety I wanted all along, ‘Parkfrieden’. I love the cool cream of the main colouring, but then you have the sizzle of the raspberry-coloured stamens which really cuts the cream beautifully into something a bit more racey. They took a battering in a couple of super heavy rainbursts that we had this week, so this tells me that next year, I would do better to cut them down a bit more in the spring to make them bush out more rather than try for the Tower of Pisa prize.

Abutilon pictum, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Abutilon pictum is another plant that is enjoying life much more in the semi-shade of the big banana in the courtyard. Any rain is delivered fast down the banana leaves into the pot, tick, and the whole plant is looking tip top. The simmering orange flowers look mysteriously out from the foliage. I love it.

Eupatorium capillifolium ‘Elegant Feather’, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

I so tried with Eupatorium capillifolium ‘Elegant Feather’ in Tostat, and with one of three plants left, I had it in the most reliably moist and protected part of the garden, but to no avail. But here in the walled shelter of the Barn Garden, it is loving it and has happily produced good looking side shoots. There is a tiny flower but the main show is this shimmering pillar of soft, feathery green which sits in amongst other plants so easily. Hooray.

Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Rosy’, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Probably about 5 years ago, I bought 3 bulbs of Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Rosy’ and those bulbs have been in this large blue pot ever since. Probably I should have carefully dug them out and separated them, as I suspect that there are now more than 9 bulbs in there, and it is jampacked. So that will need to happen next year, as the flowerspikes are now tumbling over one another for space and took a bashing in the rain that we have had, so are now pretty much horizontal. Never mind, the delicate surgery can be done next Spring, and we can start all over again. To be honest, fabulous though the flowerspikes are, for me the real deal is the gorgeous beetroot coloured foliage which, coupled with the flowerspikes, gives a great 7 months return on the bulbs.

Hibiscus moscheutos, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

‘Put this near a tap’ said Bernard Lacrouts, from whom I bought this plant last month. It will grow big and is thirsty, maybe a couple of metres high and wide, so a bigger pot will be required, but for now it is content with producing these satellite dish flowers every 24 hours. They are huge, easily 6 cms across, and are unforgettable. Now that satellite dishes have come into my mind, I am a little distracted by that thought, but whatever, who wants subtlety all the time?

Pelargonium quercifolium, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Now this plant has subtlety, though not in the scent department, with a strong, foxy smell from these lovely, crinkled oak-like leaves with a maroon spodge on them. The foliage is upright and strong, and the flowers are really charming, with coral stamens. I was so lucky with this cutting. I had forgotten about this plant until literally the morning we left, when I dashed out and cut a piece, which amazingly took and is a sturdy plant now. I will bring it under cover, though still outside, as it can take a bit of cold but not winter wet.

Salvia chamelaeagnea, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

This Salvia chamelaeagnea is new to me, bought from le Jardin de Champêtre, in Caunes-Minervois. It has tight, bushy leaves in a bright green, and so is quite unSalvia-like to look at. Again, it has a strong woody smell when you crush the leaves, and the bi-coloured flowers in soft blue and yellow are a lovely surprise. It doesn’t look hardy but it is. So here goes.

Salvia coccinea ‘Summer Jewels Pink’, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

And this lovely coral and cream Salvia coccinea ‘Summer Jewels Pink’, which is easy to grow from seed, though I bought these from a lovely lady selling bio produce in the market, has been flowering like a train for the past three weeks. Vast amounts of seed seem to be produced, so I’ll try with my own seed before maybe buying any. And this is a terrific annual plant to grow.

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