This stunning shrub flowerhead was unknown to me when I took the photograph last June, but this morning I met it again. Cestrum elegans could not be resisted. Going for 6 euros in the sale at Jardiland (just the name makes me sniff with disdain!), I nearly fell over the trolley grabbing it. It is just a touch on the picky side, wanting not too much wet in the winter, and semi-shade. So this means that I will have to fufill my dream of digging out the Kerria japonica that has been a marked plant for the last 2 years, and putting it where the Kerria was, just in the lee of our big pine tree but far enough away to be moist and not wet. But if it likes me, it should shoot up this year to maybe 2-3m all round and flower nonstop from June till November. And when the flower is the cerise-pink pineapple that it is- how can you fail to love it? The old nuisance of a pine tree will also give it a bit of winter protection, which will help.
Now why am I so snotty about Jardiland? I really should grow up and get over it, because there were yet more gems in the Jardiland sale. I bought two Abelia grandiflora prostrata (in white I think), and two Cistus corbariensis. What a coup. I had been mulling over the Abelia, more than 10 euros elsewhere, not to mention the postage. I am a recent almost-fan of Abelias. Firstly, they are really tough, secondly, they flower in July-September, and thirdly, they are good-sized shrubs.
Yes, shrubs. This from the woman who rarely waxes lyrical about shrubs, I know. But I am undergoing character reformation. I know I need more of them in the garden. I need to think of the garden as more of a smogasbord, and sue the shrub element to bring green where there is none, flowers when I need them and above all, structure and shape. So, the past year I have concentrated on growing perennials myself from seed, well, maybe 80% of the time, and spending my cash on some shrubs that are not entirely pipsqueaks to start with. So, I am focusing on shrubs with a couple of years behind them, but still small enough to be affordable.
I think the Abelia will be lovely- no more than a metre high and maybe 1.5 m wide, so bigger on the spread, and fairly dense, which will help with groundcover. The Cistus is reputed to be the hardiest one, and I am going to plant it in a couple of hot spots that are currently empty. Cistus can just suddenly give up on you. You can’t blame them really, all that frantic blooming for weeks at a time comes at a cost. So, best to keep an eye on them. The other, rare, dry day I was doing a bit of an inspection and realised that a good half of a massive Cistus pulverulentus had died away unbeknownst to me. The other half will probably be fine, and it was probably due to the general exhaustion and the relentless dryness we had right up until the end of November.
And in the same vein, I am hoping that my Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Edo-Shibori’, so pretty and which I love, will also make a comeback this Spring. It is looking pretty done in, all thin, pasty twigs at the moment. And it may be that it has coughed much as the aforementioned Cistus and for the same reasons.
Rosa ‘Mrs Oakley Fisher’ is in the last chance saloon. This is my third attempt to grow this rose, and I have succeeded only in killing it so far. It has big sentimental pull for me as I bought one for my Mum years ago, from the late and much-missed ‘Plants from the Past’ nursery run by the inspirational David Stuart in Belhaven, outside Dunbar. I bought loads of lovely plants from there for our garden in Linlithgow. Actually, I remember now my Mum managed to kill ‘Mrs Oakley Fisher’ as well. Must break the ‘Like Mother, like daughter’ thing here.
So, the last chance plant is now inside the house in a pot in our cold hall, near to the backdoor window, and without tempting fate, it is already budding. A lovely soft apricot shade, with golden stamens, she dates from about 1921 and was bred by Cant’s of Colchester, the oldest rose hybridiser in the UK dating from 1765, and still in business. Pray for her now and in her hour of need. And me.