Sometimes you have to wait…

Cytisus battandieri 2 517
Cytisus battandieri, Tostat, May 2017

The rain is lashing down.  Just as well, as everything was looking a bit stressed, and some of the new roses venturing out have very miniature flowers, quite sweet, but an indication of water shortage.  However, this is the first year that Cytisus battandieri, the Pineapple Broom, has produced more than one flower, and also has not had to fight World War 3 with the slugs and snails.  It has had a tough fight to get to where it is- a rather lean and lanky 1.75m tall and a bit on the floppy side, but I think that it is just how it is.  Most years, from when I got it about five years ago, it has been a case of crushing more than 12 snails a day that seemed to hop up and down its slender branches basically eating everything in sight.  The poor thing was exhausted with producing the same meagre supply of leaves over and over until the hotter weather drove the slugs and snails for cover.

In fact, there are 2 plants here.  My mistake, I had planted it and it was eaten to the ground and so I bought another small one, only to find the following year that they were twinning up.  I like the rather lax habit, now that I have found ways of giving it a bit of support from our westerlies, and it makes a delicate, small tree/bush shape with olive-green leaves as well as the startling flowers.  And with the dryness, the snails and slugs have left it alone pretty much this year.  So this may be its breakthrough year.

Penstemon War Axe 517
Penstemon grandiflorus ‘War Axe’, Tostat, May 2017

This Penstemon grandiflorus ‘War Axe’ has come through a lot.  It does like it hot and dry, but last year was too much for the other 2 plants, and I thought I had lost the lot, so have some seed waiting to have a go in the winter.  But up this popped.  And I think it will make it.  It has big glaucous green leaves, which make a sort of basal group, and then up comes the dark stem and pale lilac-blue flowers, speckled on the inside.  Very very pretty in a restrained Scandi-sort of way.  Right now, it is looking pretty tough so let’s hope year 3 will be a success too. And that the seed germinate in the winter sowing, as I would like some more…

Callistemon viminalis Hannah Ray 517
Callistemon viminalis ‘Hannah Ray’, Tostat, July 2017

Callistemon viminalis ‘Hannah Ray’ is just a toddler, but I have high hopes.  Callistemon work well for me in the hot, dry parts of the garden once you get them through the first year, so it is always best to buy them small, and do some waiting.  I read about this in an Australian nursery mailing, it was probably Lamley Gardens Nursery in Victoria, whose mailing list I am on.  Hooked.  It should make a good sized 3-4m big shrub with these enormous brush flowers in the most shocking red.  I love it.  And it will distract wonderfully from the more weedy state that the dry garden gets into, as it gets too dry to pull anything out at all.

Geranium Catherine Deneuve 517
Geranium ‘Catherine Deneuve’, Tostat, May 2017

At the subtler end of things, Geranium ‘Catherine Deneuve’ will be really enjoying the rain today.  It is a really difficult plant to photograph! It bobs about on long, rangy stems which show up the pstilemon parentage, and the flowers are very delicate, so liable to be bashed by the dog or any passing bird.  But it is slowly but surely bulking up and just needs a bit more cover from the evening sun tan it has currently to be really happy. Need to fix that.

But, earlier in the week, the garden was touched by some mellow evening sunshine and I was ready to try and capture it.  So, here are a couple of views…

May garden 3 517
Looking north with sun flecking the Phormium, Tostat, May 2017
May garden 517
Looking South through the gravel section, Tostat, May 2017

New to me…..

Horrible UK election result disrupted normal service today, but the best thing to do is to talk about what’s new in the garden for this year and share what I am trying to do with these new plant friends.

Geum 'Totally Tangerine', Tostat, May 2015
Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, Tostat, May 2015

I had a go with Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ back in the early days in Tostat, but lost it as I miscalculated summer dryness, coming from Linlithgow. So, it has taken me a long while to re-consider Geums. But, this spring, in a slightly shaded part of the garden, and therefore a little more damp, I decided to try Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’. Back in 2010, I had read the great plantsman, Graham Rice, on this new Geum, and many of the American sites were talking about its enhanced ability to cope with dryness, and then I saw it in profusion at Chelsea almost every year since, so that decided me to give it a try.  I got 3 good sized plants late last summer, and so they bulked up quite a bit over the autumn, and this spring, they did literally spring into life in early April, flowering by the end of April. They waft beautifully over the box hedge, standing about 1m high to the tips of the flowers and so I really hope that they will keep coming as promised.

'Totally Tangerine' wafting over the box, end April, Tostat 2015
‘Totally Tangerine’ wafting over the box, end April, Tostat 2015

So, on the tangerine theme, I have done something never before done by me, I have planted Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’ near to ‘Totally Tangerine’. Now this might be a Geum too far, but actually, as ‘Alabama Slammer’ is half the height and, whilst in the same colour zone, has some pretty marking differences, I actually rather like the combination.  So as not to overdo it, I have also interplanted Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea ‘Edith Dudszus’, which will provide a good contrast. I say, ‘will’ as it is only now making a re-appearance so no photo of mine to show, so I have borrowed a photo from a great nursery in the Lakes that I have bought plants from in the past, Cath’s Garden Plants near Heaves. Its dark flowers and upright green stems should make a nice frame for the Geums.

Geum 'Alabama Slammer' Tostat, May 2015
Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’ Tostat, May 2015
Molinia caerulea ssp.caerulea 'Edith Dudszus' credit:
Molinia caerulea ssp.caerulea ‘Edith Dudszus’

And, over on the other side of the path, I am trying out a new Geranium. I used to have a passion for geraniums in Linlithgow, especially the shade-loving Geranium phaeum, but moving here 11 years ago, I found it hard to find much other than the standard pink one. Now, there are many on-line nurseries that deliver great plants in great condition, such as Le Chatel des Vivaces, where I found and bought Geranium ‘Catherine Deneuve’. Like her namesake, she is a class act with elegant magenta star-shaped flowers with stamens that project like little jewels, and an upright form.  These have proved tough and sturdy so far, and I have high hopes. It’s been windy here and has blown the first flower off (!) so here is the photo from Coblands in the UK. Check her out on their site via the link- they give her a full name of Geranium psilostemon ‘Catherine Deneuve’.

Geranium 'Catherine Deneuve' credit:
Geranium ‘Catherine Deneuve’

And lastly, a plant that I haven’t dared to put outside yet, but I will soon, is new-to-me Pelargonium ‘Ardens’. It is an electric red, dark centres to the petals and the most intense colour with groups of tiny, delicate flowers. It really is this colour! Quite loose and floppy as a plant, but that may be youth, so I shall try and toughen it up with some outdoors experience if the wind stops blowing!

Pelargonium 'Ardens' Tostat May 2015
Pelargonium ‘Ardens’ Tostat May 2015