Stormy weather…

Back door view 718
Back door view, Tostat, July 2018

Last night was the third night of big storms- a huge electrical show in the sky, and Tostat lit up like Las Vegas.  This morning, a dark and sombre tone to the light, and continuing rumblings.  So much so that Molly the dog literally turned tail and ran back into the garden first thing.  The rain is very welcome, but like the whole weather scene this year, too much, too big, and utterly unpredictable.

In the last post, I was raving about Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’, and here in the foreground pot, you can see ‘Eucomis autumnalis’, which is the baby cousin and my first shot at Eucomis. I think that I need to repot all those bulbs for next year, as whilst the decorative drooping is pretty, it really means it’s a bit crowded in there.  Such a good plant- self-seeds and produces babies, and you can also grow the seed on- though it takes a few years to make a flowering plant.  I keep both Eucomis in pots, they like winter dry and some shelter, and then they handle sun and pot-soaking every 2 days- unless we are in a heatwave when it would be daily.

Kalimeris incisa Madiva 718
Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, Tostat, July 2018

Just coming out now, and continuing for 2-3 months, is Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, a plant that is only in its second full year, but is proving to be a real trooper.  Just 1m high, it is really tough and shrugs off wind and rain, as well as hot sun.  It spreads steadily but not greedily, and is a delicate pale mauve colour- it looks fantastic next to the Monarda fistulosa, which has gone nuts this year with the rain and is taller than me.  This plant keeps going right till the late autumn- flowering when rain allows, and remaining upright and impressive.  From seed it is really easy, and these clumps are now 3 years old, so I will be dividing them later on.

Monarda fistulosa 718
Monarda fistulosa, Tostat, July 2018

When the early or late light hits the Monarda, there is almost an electric quality to the mauve flowerheads.

July view 2 718
Monarda fistulosa shimmering, Tostat, July 2018
Rosa Crepuscule 718
Rosa ‘Crepuscule’, Tostat, July 2018

At least, I think that this is ‘Crepuscule’.  Apricot to start with, golden cream and yellow later, and a deep, drinkable scent- I love it.  Not mine, in the sense that I inherited it, and it is a gawky thing, but with all the rain, it is trying for a second show.

In this strange weather, I am taken with seed production.  Clearing out my seed collection, and seeing if there is any life left, but also growing some new plants that I want to try.  I adored this plant last summer in Herefordshire, and bumped into it again in Gloucestershire at Berrys Farm Garden, open for the NGS.  ‘Trifolium ochroleucron’ is stunning.  A big shapely clump of 1m or so, with these super-charged giant cream clover heads.  The good news is that all the seed has germinated in less than 5 days.  Now, I just have to not kill them over the winter.

Berry Trifolium 618
Trifolium ochroleucron, Berrys Place Farm Gloucestershire, June 2018

More riskily, I am trying this- Alogyne hakeifolia.  Tiny pic, thank you Australianseed.com, and also ‘Gardening with Angus’ for more information.  I saw this in Spain, and fell badly.  So, why not?  All gardening is about love and passion really.  I am in a mauve phase.

download (1)
Alogyne hakeifolia Photo credit: http://www.australianseed.com

After the Rain…

acidanthera-murieliae-916
Acidanthera murielae, Tostat, September 2016

On Tuesday night, the heavens opened, and it has rained off and on, mostly heavily and without wind, since then, till this morning when cool air but also bright sunshine appeared.  Bliss. You can almost feel the earth drinking the water.  Truth is, most of the garden is pretty much crisped to death.  Not total death, but certainly over for this year.  The watered pots are still doing beautifully, but, with the exception of a few things, everything arrived too fast and went over too fast in the heat and dry.  So, this autumn will not see a lot going on in the garden.  But there are some surprises.

eucalyptus-gunnii-azura-916
Eucalyptus gunnii Azura, Tostat, September 2016

I bought this in the ‘bin-end’ section of a local nursery about 4 years ago, and planted it thinking it could be a sentinel plant at the opening into the New Garden. It was almost too bright to photograph it this morning and so I only just got the very top of it in the picture.  I adore this tree.  Yes, it works as a sentinel, with it’s fine, elegant and delicate columnar shape and colouring, not to mention the round, grouped leaves that give it an almost frothy look- but it is also not going to get too much bigger, currently about 2m at the widest and about 3.5m high (well, that’s what the websites seem to agree on) and so it won’t dominate the area around it.

passiflora-fruit-916
Passiflora fruiting almost done, Tostat, September 2016

Just caught this view as I was wandering past.  It makes the most of the remaining colour in the garden and airbrushes out the drought- rather well, I think.

poilanthes-tuberosa-the-pearl-916
Poilanthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’, Tostat, September 2016

I bought some of these bulbs on offer in a cold and wet June.  They looked pretty dull till the other week, when up shot these tall, slender, grouped cream flowers with a pale yellow centre.  And the perfume is even available for the Piasecka nose.  Deep, dark and rich, with a strong vanilla tone, or at least I think so. Strong and gorgeous scent that hung near the plant on the hot evenings we have had lately.  Absolutely knockout and with many more flowers to come, which we will miss but our housesitters will enjoy.

begonia-luxurians-1-916
Looking down on Begonia luxurians, Tostat, September 2016

Also a pot-dweller, and one that will need a far bigger pot next year, is a real find for this year, Begonia luxurians.  I thought it might be a little delicate as it’s structure is so airy and fine, with these Edward Scissorhands leaves grouped around a centre.  But it has withstood passing people bashing it, wind and rain with aplomb.  It is tender and so it will come in to the house for the winter.

eucomis-autumnalis-916
Eucomis autumnalis bearing seed, Tostat, September 2016

Several friends in Tostat are busily growing Eucomis autumnalis seed that I collected last year, so just before we head off next week, I will be collecting as much as I can.  I am imagining about 3 years to a flowering plant, but it is such a great plant, you can’t have enough in pots, and is handsome at every stage of it’s life.  Meanwhile, on the slowly evolving labyrinth, which has suffered the last 2 summers and is not therefore complete with plants, I was collecting seed from good plants (sown 2 years ago) of Carex buchananii ‘Red Rooster’ before the rain.  I now have a big brown envelope full of seed- which might mean that I can finally grow enough, probably about 150 plants, to complete the outer circuit and fill in the odd hole. Fingers crossed.

dryopteris-erythrosa-916
Dryopteris erythrosora, Tostat, September 2016

There has been so much gratitude for the rain.  This Dryopteris has even reverted to a semi-spring position, instantly throwing up new leaves and looking pretty content.

solidago-rugosa-fireworks-916
Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, Tostat, September 2016

This plant, Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, is only in it’s first year and so has a way to go.  But it has been redoubtable in the heat and dry, and so next year it should be in fine fettle.  I love the arching delicacy of the flowering branches and it’s fine vase-shaped, upright form.  It does look heat-weary, but it has pulled through, albeit with a little spot-watering.

maurandya-antirhiniflora-916
Maurandya antirhiniflora taking on Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’, Tostat, September 2016

At the same time, the change in the weather has brought the sharper early morning light of autumn, which allowed this small flower to steal my gaze as I went out with a cup of tea this morning.  It’s good to be alive.

 

The aristocrat and the pauper…

I love my flowering ginger, Hedychium gardnerianum. They had a rough start in life here. Bought as a few small tubers on ebay, I planted them in what I thought would be a warm and wet enough part of the garden, and for two or three years, they bravely grew leaves and did what they could. I then realised that they took so long to get over winter even in the place I had carefully chosen for them, that they were too exhausted to flower, or if they tried, autumn chills did for them. So, into a pot they went, even though I managed to leave a bit behind, which is now back in the square one position, and yes, I will remember to dig it up this autumn.

Hedychium gardnerianum, Tostat, August 2015
Hedychium gardnerianum, Tostat, August 2015

This variety of Hedychium is reputed to be the hardiest, and so isn’t perhaps as luscious in flowering as some, but I like the Golden Shred colouring, and especially the contrast with the darker orange at the base of each flowerette. But the truth is: each flowerspike, currently one on each plant, lasts only a couple of days and will be utterly blitzed by any heavy rain. So, in plant terms, cost per wear doesn’t look too good.  But I will move it into a more semi-shaded position than now, and try again another year.

But, cost per wear is a given a real ROI when you look at Eucomis autumnalis.  I absolutely adore this plant. It meets all the requirements of a late summer flowering plant, great, lush foliage, flowerspikes that last for weeks and look good before, during, and after flowering, and it is incredibly easy to grow. It is a South African native, grows from bulbs, and is cheap as chips really.  The only thing you have to do, which I didn’t, is really read up on what it likes.  I had it planted in dry, stony ground for several years, which is exactly what it likes in the winter and spring, with very free-draining soil.  My mistake was in not reading about the rest of what it likes. To flower, it wants moisture and quite a bit of it, as well as richer conditions. I promised myself every year I saw the leaves forming that I would dig it up and pot it up and, yes,  each year I forgot.

This year I remembered, and was astonished that 3 bulbs were now nine in number, and went into 2 pots not one. And it has rewarded me, hand over fist, with a lovely display of cool, white flowerheads, for the past month and isn’t finished yet.  I am so pleased that I remembered.

Eucomis atumnalis, Tostat, early July 2015
Eucomis atumnalis, Tostat, early July 2015

I love the faux pineapple shape of the spike, and its cheeky little top, the bit that I thought would make a great earring in an earlier blog.  You get to see the little pineapple shape emerging weeks earlier before it finally flowers, so it is a great reveal when it happens.

Another pot, a bit later in July 2015
Another pot, a bit later in July 2015

Plants with earring potential…

Sometimes an idea enters my head and sticks…the last month or so, whilst taking photographs in the garden, I was seized by the notion that so many flowering plants would make fabulous earrings- only the flowering part I hasten to add.  And I was reminded that a book I really enjoyed, with its fusion of autobiography and gardening, sometimes painful, was ‘The Jewel Garden: A Story of Despair and Redemption’ by Monty and Sarah Don. And their life and careers together started with jewellery. There is a wonderful photo in the book of them both sporting some of their work, with Monty looking as if he was auditioning for Adam Ant. It’s very touching when you read the whole story.

So, my first contender for earring potential would be Leycesteria formosa, the summer-long flowering shrub whose flowers seem to last for months, only becoming more luscious and dark as the weeks go by.

Leycesteria formosa 615

It is such a good, undemanding plant and graceful too, with its gently arching branches, so it does need a bit of room, and would be wasted jammed into a small space.

The second contender would be Feijoa sellowiana, the Pineapple Guava.  My plants have taken their time to flower reliably, probably more than 5 years. But now, for just a short while at the end of May, these gorgeous flowers appear. Pink slightly fleshy petals surround an electric burst of bright pink stamens with golden tips.  They certainly would have qualifed as dressy earrings in my Mum’s jewellery box.

Feijoa sellowiana, Tostat, June 2015
Feijoa sellowiana, Tostat, June 2015

And then there’s my pale orange abutilon, unknown variety, which I bought as a weenie from ebay years ago. It used to be in a pot, and this is its first year in the ground and it has been a hard year for newbies in the ground. So, it is a little subdued but will make it, I think. I love the classy droplets in pale orange, though I also lust after a variety called ‘Orange Hot Lava’. I am sure you will know why.

Pale orange abutilon, Tostat, July 2015
Pale orange abutilon, Tostat, July 2015

And then there are Fuchsias. I am not a big grower of Fuchsia, mainly because I don’t have a lot of kind shade and dampness, but in the garden I grow Fuchsia magellanica, which is really tough and comes back no matter what. The flowers are elegant, slim and pencil-like, and even better before they open fully, I think.

Fuchsia magellanica, Tostat, July 2015
Fuchsia magellanica, Tostat, July 2015

And I also have a little Fuchsia ‘Edith’ in a pot, which I bought as a plug at Chelsea last year. It has just produced the first flower, which is not quite open, but the cerise pink is quite gorgeous with the lavender underskirt.

Fuchsia Edith 715

And, finally, despite my Carmen Miranda tendencies, the plant I would pick myself to wear as an earring would be..Eucomis autumnalis, and I would simply take the little green pineapple-bit off the top. Quite lovely.

Eucomis autumnalis, Tostat, July 2015
Eucomis autumnalis, Tostat, July 2015