In a state of adoration…

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Leucanthemum ‘Banana Cream’ after a shower, Tostat, June 2015

I am in a state of adoration about Yellow.  I adore all of it, from Bird’s Custard yellow which hovers on egg yolk orange, right though to the most delicate cream, which hovers on white.  I used to be like this about red, and whilst it remains a favourite, I have succumbed utterly to Yellow.  I dream about it especially at this time of year, when there isn’t much about yet…daffodils and Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’ are yet to open.  Last year was my first with Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’ and I liked it so much that, rather late in the spring season, I bought 3 more very tiny plants.  I had given them up for dead until last week, when first two of them popped through, and then, this week, so did the third one.  They are tougher than I thought.

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Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’, Tostat, March 2015

There is something about yellow that spells warmth, coothiness, comfort, fun and excitement.  Last year, I brought together some clumps of Anthemis ‘Hollandaise Sauce’ that I had scattered in various locations- and made a big drift of them, paired up with slightly later flowering upright white Liatris scariosa.  They really did look good.  It was fresh, invigorating and really cheered you up.

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Anthemis ‘Hollandaise Sauce’, Tostat, June 2015

At the egg yolk end of yellow, is Coreopsis ‘Grandiflora’, which really is quite big, nearly a metre tall and a spreader, I reckon.  It is a tad floppy, so needs staking to really keep those great big double flowers upright, but it flowers freely all summer whatever the weather, and though the more orangey tint to the yellow maybe makes it a bit of a harder sell with other colours, it’s worth it for it’s energy and flowerpower.

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Coreopsis ‘Grandiflora’, Tostat, July 2015

A very much more obliging and discreet yellow is another great plant, which I grew from seed but really only appreciated last year in it’s second year.  It is an evergreen, tough as old boots perennial, Bupleurum fruticosum, and it is such a good plant for dry, poor soil spots with sun.  It will take any amount of dryness and any amount of sun.  With it’s slightly reddened stout stems, olive-green waxy leaves and very upright stance, it holds it’s own in the border, and provides really good structure and oomph at about a metre and a bit high. It needs no attention at all, and then, late in the summer, these delicate umbels in a calmer shade of yellow appear, which are a magnet for insects of all kinds.  It isn’t flashy and it only does what it does, but it will take any punishment.  Even wetter spots won’t put it off, as long as there is some dryness in the growing season.  I am really looking forward to it’s obliging progress this year.

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Bupleurum fruticosum, Tostat, August 2015

At the lemon end of yellow, is a plant that I bought about six years ago as a tiny at which point it was one of the Halimium clan.  Renamed pretty much everywhere now as Cistus atriplicifolius, it is a sun and dry lover, enjoying the largely stoney conditions in the New Garden, and though it doesn’t bloom for long, and may not repeat flower, it is delightful in full throttle.  Trouble-free, perfect for difficult hotspots, it requires nothing and just performs.

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Cistus atriplicifolius, Tostat, June 2015

And it just goes to show, you can never have too much yellow.  I love the height, well over 1.5m, and the delicate, quilled flowers of Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’.  It is not a spreader, but just beautifully wafts above the reat of the border in summer breezes.  It looks just great with an unknown perennial sunflower that escaped one of my purges earlier in the year.  The warmth of these colours is toasting me, on a grey, cold and wet day in Tostat!

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Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ coping with an unknown perennial sunflower, Tostat, August 2015

A place in the sun…and the shade.

The sunny side of the New Garden,  Tostat, end May 2015
The sunny side of the New Garden, Tostat, end May 2015

We seemed to leap fully formed from the chilly, wet weather of the Chelsea Flower Show week into high summer temperatures, up to 36C on Friday last week. This has been a bit of a shock for plants and people, with not a drop of rain for nearly 3 weeks. I am of the feeble pale Scottish skin variety and so wilt easily in hot sunshine, and so do quite a few plants. But, not here in the New Garden. This was the garden Andy and I made about 6 years ago on the site of an old barn, using the rubbish stoney soil that is here, only removing about 599 massive river boulders by hand, you can see the odd one in the distance in the photograph above.

Taking the view that I should absolutely try and make the most of what is here, and it is hot as well as stoney, I have tried to choose plants that really are tough, and in the most part, this has worked with one or two exceptions.  So, at the end of May, it was looking really good, so good that I didn’t notice that my Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’, which had been great in the spring with its cerise-pink flowers on bare stems, was toiling badly. To rub it in, here is a photograph of it flowering in 2013, it is a beauty.

Cercis chinensis 'Avondale' Tostat 2013
Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’ Tostat 2013

Sadly now, finally having reached nearly 1.75m in height as it is a slow grower, it is looking very miserable and the few leaves it has, normally heart-shaped, glossy and vibrant green, look very dead. I am not sure what has happened, but I think I will cut it back in the autumn and just see if it will regenerate. I suspect that this is unlikely as we are hitting hot summer now, but I will try.

However, although the Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’ that you can see on the left in the top photograph is looking a bit crispy at the edges, other things are in their stride. I love Halimium, though now renamed as Cistus atriplicifolius. I bought this from Pepiniere Filippi in the Languedoc, of whom I have blogged, and it is a miracle flowerer in the summer, off and on for months. It hates wet, and so our conditions are mostly perfect for it, even in the winter when we can get lots of rain.

Cistus atriplicifolius, New Garden, Tostat, June 2015
Cistus atriplicifolius, New Garden, Tostat, June 2015

The strong sunshine this morning seems to make it almost gleam. Sometimes plants are drained by sunshine, not this Cistus, it seems to charge the colour up even more. It grows to about 1m x 1.5m and is quite sprawly in habit, but I like the fact that it drapes itself onto the gravel.

Callistemon 'Little John', New Garden, Tostat, June 2015- and friend..
Callistemon ‘Little John’, New Garden, Tostat, June 2015- and friend..

This Callistemon has been in the garden from the beginning, but has not come into its own until this year. The flowers are fat and vibrant this year, and it will be worth its space!  I think it’s ‘Little John’ but, honestly, I have forgotten and lost the tag. Nestling next to it is a little weed flower that crops up sparsely in the New Garden, I don’t know what it is exactly, but I love the pale lemon colour of the flowers and it’s not a pest, so it’s given special status to remain. I think it looks amazing just placed next to the Callistemon. It obviously knew. ‘This is my best side, Mr de Mille.’

Punica granatum 'Legrelliae' New Garden, Tostat, June 2015
Punica granatum ‘Legrelliae’ New Garden, Tostat, June 2015

This non-fruiting pomegranate, Punica granatum ‘Legrelliae’ has been slow with me, but the conditions are tough, so must be patient. The flowers are quite gorgeous, like a crumpled paper napkin edged in cream, and there are a few more of them this year despite the heat.

Funnily enough, on the shady side, where I have ferns and other shade-lovers coping fairly gamely with the dryness, this morning the light really drew them out of themselves.

Dryopteris attrata with self seeded verbascum muscling in, New Garden, Tostat, June 2015
Dryopteris attrata with self seeded verbascum muscling in, New Garden, Tostat, June 2015

The fact that a self-seeded verbascum has turned up next to the Dryopteris attrata fern shows how dry it is, even in the shade, but this year is the 3rd year for the ferns and this looks to be payback time. When the conditions are tough, the main job is just to get plants through their first 2 years and then, mostly, they are ok on their own. The only care they have had has been the odd bucket of water when the going got tough, so they have been pretty independent.

And last seen at the beginning of May in the blog looking all fluffy and furry, Polystichum polyblepharum is settling into a very lovely stride, making graceful arcs with its fronds in the sunshine, with the beginnnings of Andy’s stumpery look (which is new) and just a few petals from Rosa ‘Reine Marguerite d’Italie’ lying on the ground giving a confetti- look.

Polystichum polyblepharum, New Garden, Tostat, June 2015
Polystichum polyblepharum, New Garden, Tostat, June 2015