This little spray of irridescent blue flowers only measures about 15cms from the ground and has only these four buds/flowers on it, but it delights me. I grew from seed about 7 years ago, three varieties of Aristea- Aristea ecklonii, Aristea major and Aristea inaequalis. The first has stumbled on in a pot, coming under cover for the winter and to stay dryish, the second has grown immense with huge straps of leaves like a Phormium (more later about this one) and the last I nearly killed the winter before last and so have only one slightly mournful specimen at the moment.
So ecklonii has come good, as it did last year. The flowers only appear in the sunlight and shut themselves when the sky clouds over- and the whole scale of it is ‘freesia-size’, and of course, the slightest puff of wind and it bobs about- hence the slight wobble. But the colour is quite fabulous- a true, sky-blue and it really shines out.
So, the big sister, Aristea major has done exceptionally well in the leaf department- but nothing else, till now. In fact, it had a hard winter. I had it fleeced up, but some wind shook the fleecing a little free, and our hard frost nights (-10C) ravaged the leaves. So, last month, I re-potted it into a massive pot, as it is a big plant- cut off all the black, frosted foliage, which gave it a severe haircut, and hoped for the best. Only a couple of new leaves have begun growing, but wowee, no fewer than five flowerspikes! I am truly thrilled. They came well-disguised, wrapped inside emerging leaves with only a small maternity bump that I didn’t notice for a while. So, I am waiting, like an expectant parent outside the labour ward. So far, they look like grey wheathusks.
Other things romping away and causing great delight…
I grew this Anchusa italica ‘Dropmore’ from seed 2 years ago, and as ever, with most perennials, you are paying forward for the flowers, but here it is. Tall, despite the drought, at nearly eye-level with me, and the same sort of irridescent blue that the Aristea offers, but in a big, slightly floppy, way. I think it will go from strength to strength.
Good old standards here, the Stachys byzantina at its best, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ and Centranthus ruber, but that little flash of red that really does sparkle is my new Dianthus deltoides ‘Flashing Light’. I adore it.
The very first rose this year on this rose, Rosa ‘Alissar, Princess of Phoenicia’. It has not had an easy time. First, I cut it back to smuggle it back in hand luggage from Chelsea 2013, then I planted it for 2 years in a very dry spot which it really couldn’t cope with, then I potted it up in intensive care last summer and lastly, this Spring, it finally got the home it deserves. A re-developed section with plenty of sun, but also, a little shade and moister soil, and it looks in great shape. Phew. It is a gorgeous thing.
But maybe my favourite rose is this one, Rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’ for its robustness, and above all, the colour, a mahogany red unlike any other, almost burnished at the tips of the petals. I planted it without thinking sort of in front of this Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Helmond Pillar’– which I love. And they love each other, I think.
This Zantedeschia aethiopia pops up naturally in any shady spot with me. I really love the horn shape of the flowers and the glossy leaves. The only problem is that the flowers become waste-bins for any garden bits flying around in the air- still, you couldn’t have a nicer bin really.