Burnout…or not quite

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Looking again…Yucca with Bupleurum fruticosum, Miscanthus strictus, looking across to Hydrangea Annabelle, Tostat, July 2017

The last two weeks of June were a flurry of gardens, visiting friends and reprogramming my eyes to a different kind of English luxuriousness and verdant views.  More of all of this in time.  But coming back home on Saturday evening to 11C and pelting rain, we lit the woodburner to warm ourselves and our frozen housesitters.  Venturing out early on Sunday morning, with eyes still working to English levels of greenness,  I was aghast.  The garden looked as if it had had a blowtorch taken to it.  More than a week of temperatures in the high 30Cs and not a drop of rain, not to mention hot winds had really taken its toll, despite the care and attention of the housesitters.

But.  As my eyes adjusted back to my own garden, I actually had a lot of cause for celebration which I came to see as I went round looking in detail.  First of all, not much had actually died.  I may have lost one Rhamnus frangula ‘Fine Line’, but the other one is recovering even now, and so maybe it will too.  Burnt edges could be seen everywhere, but not much actual death.  And, this early July period is a bit of a ‘Potter’s Wheel’.  It’s always the time where the earlier summer flowering has gone over and the mid to late summer plants haven’t yet hit their stride, and really I should know this by now.

So major redesign panic over.   And a few days later, with sight fully restored to normal settings, I was able to appreciate the plants that had persevered and come through.  And there were one or two real surprises in the mix.  For example, new to me this year, was Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’– and it has proved a real stalwart.  In a new area, which I suspect does actually have some spring activity deep down, it is blooming really well, along with clumps of my cheap-as-chips Liatris spicata and a new annual purple millet that I grew from seed, Pennistum glaucum ‘Purple Baron’.  The Kalimeris is a 0.75cms high neat clump of bright green foliage, with mauve flowers fading to white, and is very pretty.  Let’s see what happens with spread and seeding, but it looks like a really good doer to me.

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Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, Liatris spicata and Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Baron’, Tostat, July 2017
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Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, Tostat, July 2017

The next morning, in the dappled sunshine early on in a part of the border by the wall that is a right mess- project for early 2018, even though my teeth were slightly setting at the disarray, a timid Southern White butterfly was enjoying Echinacea ‘White Swan’.  It seemed really good to be home.

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Southern White Admiral butterfly enjoying Echinacea ‘White Swan’, Tostat, July 2017

A retro-feel to the garden today…

Day 2 of the Bac exams for my son, who has been labouring away with revision for what seems like ages, so not much time today what with fetching and carrying, cooking a lunch (well!) and generally doing domestic backup. But, in the garden this morning with my Ipad, and the combinations of bright sunshine and probably lesser photographic quality- not that I’m Lord Snowden you understand- seemed to me to bring a retro-feel to the images, bit 60s tablecloth.  I rather liked it.

Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer', Tostat, June 2015
Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’, Tostat, June 2015
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' and Clematis texensis 'Princess Diana', Tostat, June 2015
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and Clematis texensis ‘Princess Diana’, Tostat, June 2015
Unknown pink Pennisetum, Tostat, June 2015
Unknown pink Pennisetum, Tostat, June 2015
Stipa gigantea against the Phormium, and the washing line!, Tostat, June 2015
Stipa gigantea against the Phormium, and the washing line!, Tostat, June 2015
Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan', Tostat, June 2015
Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, Tostat, June 2015

and I don’t know what the strange onion-y thing is, below, but I am fond of it- comes up, looks a bit alien, and does no harm, and then goes away.

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Nipping round the garden with the camera…

The rain we have had this week has brought lots of things back from the  brink and encouraged others to push the boat out a bit, so I am frequently to be seen nipping round the garden with the camera.

Sphaeralcea munroana, Tostat, June 2015
Sphaeralcea munroana, Tostat, June 2015

This Sphaeralcea munroana is a lovely thing, but it isn’t at all what I expected! For a start, it should have been a crimson orange, and secondly, I was expecting it to be less drapey and more upright. But, whatever, I am actually rather fond of it. New to me this year, and picked out for its drought resistance, it is described by American sites as a ‘xeric’ plant, which means it is seriously good at drought tolerance. And, of course, as soon as I planted it, we had a soaking wet February. But it has pulled through, and is very pretty, if a sweeter pretty than I meant.  At the moment, it is trailing along the ground rather than growing upwards. But, maybe next year when it grows up a bit..

Anthemis tinctoria 'Sauce Hollandaise', Tostat, June 2015
Anthemis tinctoria ‘Sauce Hollandaise’, Tostat, June 2015

There is nothing special about this plant, Anthemis tinctoria ‘Sauce Hollandaise’, but, my goodness, it is a beauty. From 3 tiny pots planted 5 years ago, I have swathes of it now, and I adore it. Tough, pretty, fresh, and very happy to go without water for a while, it is a very good friend. Virtually bombproof, as Bob Brown would say, and most years, there is silvery green foliage all year round. Just deadhead to keep it going, and it will work really hard for you. I am becoming a daisy nut.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan', Tostat, June 2015
Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, Tostat, June 2015

Another bombproof plant. You can pick up seed for Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ all over the internet for a pound or so, it germinates easily and gives you a great return. These vigorous plants were teeny weeny seedlings only a year ago, and this year, are quite splendid.  I love Echinacea, I am not so sure about some of the very gaudy doubles that are being bred right now, but you can’t beat the simplicity of ‘White Swan’. And here is a mature flower, the flower reflexes as it matures and exposes the central cone. Wow.

Reflexed Echinacea 'White Swan', Tostat, June 2015
Reflexed Echinacea ‘White Swan’, Tostat, June 2015
Knautia macedonica, Tostat, June 2015
Knautia macedonica, Tostat, June 2015

This is another really good plant. Happy in drought, probably fine in good soil if a little floppy, but wouldn’t want serious wet, it self seeds all over my gravel area and elsewhere too. Knautia macedonica is an unbeatable crimson, and wafts elegantly making a lovely haze of transparent colour. The flowers sit at the top of tall thin stems, so it almost seems to float. It will flower forever once it starts until frost cuts it down, and is totally hardy.

Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii, Tostat, June 2015
Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii, Tostat, June 2015

Oh oh, another daisy. Rudbeckia fulgida var.deamii is a very yellow daisy, maybe too Birds Custard for some, but I can take the yellow because it is another toughie.  And, though I am fond of ‘Goldsturm’ and have loads of it, I also like this one, which I grew from seed, easy as pie, and this is how they look 2 years on. It muscles it’s way past any weeds, and insists on being seen, so nothing retiring or delicate about it, right down to it’s coarse, hairy legs. But, flowering all summer, who can complain?

Bee coming in, Nepeta tuberosa, Tostat, June 2015
Bee coming in, Nepeta tuberosa, Tostat, June 2015

Warning! This is my 3rd shot at this plant, having grown it from seed twice and lost it. Nepeta tuberosa, so lovely that I will keep at it, needs razor sharp drainage and sun all year round. But if you can give it that, it will reward you with lipstick-shaped upright flower spikes, some more carmine than others, I have had carmine, almost pink, deep blue…It doesn’t last forever, but will self seed if it likes you. It also has the most strokable, velvety leaves and is very striking. Another Derry Watkins, Special Plants plant, and a right good one. Tweezer job on the seedlings so you need a steady hand.