I am, almost, as excited as Meg Ryan in that famous scene….My Aristea major has flowered for the very first time, after 8 years of patience and minor cursing. It is a very proud moment, slightly spoiled by Andy’s response of ‘Oh yes’, which didn’t pass muster as a response in my book. The clear gentian-blue has to be seen to be believed, and on a cooler, cloudier morning, the flower spike has taken several hours to slowly open up, one flower at a time. In fact, probably tomorrow, I will be able to see every single flower on the spike in action, which will be quite something. The spike itself is quite a thing, easily over 1m long and tall, and stands up like a soldier on parade. No flopping going on at all.
And frankly, from whichever side you look at it, it is a glorious thing, I may be circling it for quite some time! I first came across this as I follow ‘Annie’s Annuals’ a fantastic nursery in Richmond, California, which I actually visited when we were there in 2010- terrible business visiting a fabulous nursery and being forced to come away empty-handed. But I did buy seed and gave it a go- and here we are, eight years later.
And another plant that is really enjoying life is Aruncus dioicus which is jammed into the woodland type border next to the ruisseau. Actually, you can’t see it very well, something that ought to be remedied, as this photograph was taken through the undergrowth. Back in Scotland, I grew Aruncus dioicus ‘Kneiffii’ which is the small cousin of the bigger plant that I have. They are greatly underrated really. Trouble-free, just give them moist, semi-shady conditions and don’t poke them, and they will slowly become a wafting, cream- coloured, ribbony-flowered plant making a really good statement in the garden. In fact, they are so trouble-free that I had forgotten that I had it, until I saw the flowers through the rest of the planting. This Aruncus gets to about 1.5m high and wide, the smaller ‘Kneiffii’ to only about a metre or so- and slowly.
Essentially though, we are in deep drought in the garden still, with no rain forecast for the next 10 days or so at the moment. But two years ago, I grew this lovely little Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Mesa Yellow’ from seed- with a poorish success rate, only 3 plants made it through. But those 3 are utterly unfazed by the heat and the drought. It makes a small, neat plant, with multiple branching flower stems from the central rosette of flattish leaves, and it is a very jolly, cheerful yellow that works really well with the baby Stipas around it. And now in its second year, it is really digging in and growing well. Gaillardia are especially suited to dry, hot conditions, and this has been well tested this year. Good job.