Jazz hands in the garden…

Phygelius aequalis ‘Yellow Trumpet’ with the pink Scabiosa columbaria peeping through, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Cuttings from one garden to another is such a good and friendly way to build a garden. Here, in Oloron, I have a lovely neighbour with whom I am sharing cuttings and offshoots, and I am really enjoying her choice of plants, quite a few of whom, like Melianthus major, I failed with in Tostat as winters were sometimes both too cold and too damp.

Phygelius aequalis ‘Yellow Trumpet’ was both a seed grown plant and a cutting from me to me. I love the robustness of this plant, glossy bright green foliage whatever the conditions and these elegant cool yellow trumpets that go on for months. It is really pretty and bombproof. As it gets more substantial and clumps, it will make an almost shrub-like presence and it may well spread through running roots if it really likes you. No problem I reckon, just more plant material for friendly sharing and swapping.

Another gift to myself were some small cuttings of Monarda fistulosa. This is the only Monarda I can grow that doesn’t succumb to any mildew at all. With us, even ‘Gardenview Scarlet’ reputed to be mildew-free, is just as riddled with mildew, and this opinion comes from Bernard Lacrouts, the best plant nurseryman for miles around. I love this plant and it seems to be really enjoying the slightly shaded position, out of the hot afternoon sun, here in Oloron. Easy as pie from seed.

Monarda fistulosa, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Fancy another tall, floriferous and elegant plant that flowers like a train in July and August? I give you Alcathaea x suffrutescens ‘Parkrondell’. I took my cuttings from a village planting last summer, and now my cuttings are taller than me, and bushing out really well, and will next year be a beefy but elegant shrub. This plant is not well known at all, and it should be. Easy, undemanding, hardy and tolerating even dry conditions, it brings a ruffled elegance to the garden. I had hoped I had taken cuttings of the sister, ‘Parkfrieden’, which has cream and very pale pink flowers, but I will have to wait and see what happens with the other two plants to be sure. There is a third sister plant, ‘Parkallee’ which is entirely cream coloured. There is a bit of the hollyhock about them, but they absolutely merit being better known and grown more.

Alcathaea suffrutescens ‘Parkrondell’, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Rosa ‘Woollerton Old Hall’ was a rose I gave to a good friend, who did the perfect friend-thing and grew a cutting on for me as a present for my birthday last year. I was really touched by that, and so the rose has a good position in the new barn garden, and with a slightly shaky start, has really picked up and got going. This rose has all the full beauty of an old rose, but with a slightly open centre, so that it does work for pollinators even though the flowers qre loosely double. The scent, and ok, I am not the best nose on the planet, has a warm clove type body to it, almost savoury rather than sweet, and very unusual- not ‘rosy’ in tone. The cream and butter colouring is lovely, almost apricot towards the centre. A treat.

Rosa ‘Woollerton Old Hall’, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

And now to some survivors of the winter and being largely abandoned in their pots…Pelargonium sidoides is a fighter of a plant, albeit on the tiny side. It has come back from being reduced to tiny sprigs by the end of winter, and is flowering hard. The flowers are strange. They are definitely pink- no two ways about it. But they should be a very dark maroon, almost black. What’s going on? In every other respect, it is sidoides….not just the fact that the seed came from a reputable source, but the foliage is dead right. Ah well.

Pelargonium sidoides, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021…..and curly foliage below….
Salvia cacaliifolia, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Salvia cacaliifolia is a stunner. Not only do you get spires and spires of gentian-blue flowers, but the triangular shaped leaves twine and curl, and if you wish, with a few bits of twiggy support, you almost have a climbing salvia on your hands. It does need winter protection, mea culpa there, but this need only be a roofed over area or a cold frame as it doesn’t need warmth as much as dry conditions. Cuttings are easy in the autumn from sideshoots, and I would have lost mine altogether if I hadn’t at least taken a cutting.

And for a strong whiff of a Moroccan desert in full sun, try the tiny but indomitable Pelargonium abrotanifolium, which is a bit of a mouthful and not the easiest name to remember. Again, dry cover in the winter is needed, but brush against these delicate, filigree leaves in the palest green, and the scent is released. It’s like a fix for the holiday you haven’t had. On top, these tiny, but memorable flowers with dark purple throats appear all summer. Could be grown anywhere in a pot as long as it has full sun, as it doesn’t grow big. Doesn’t want to be swamped by big-boy plants I reckon- another good reason for a pot.

Pelargonium abrotanifolium, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

Talk about jazz hands… the Cardinal Vine has both fabulous foliage and glowing red hot flowers which flower non stop for one day only. What a show. Full sun, some moisture and a little bit of feeding to keep it powered up. I bought this in Oloron market and have twined it through a pair of metal Moroccan window shades which the previous owner kindly left us. Just for a bit of drama, you know.

Ipomoea guamoclit or Cardinal Vine, Oloron Sainte Marie, July 2021

And now it’s early June…

Gertrud’s Penstemon, such a good plant, Tostat, June 2020

Where has this year gone? I cannot believe the evidence of my own eyes as I look round the garden and see that early summer arrived about 2 weeks ago. Most of the once-blooming roses are over and done with, and spring flowerers of all kinds were beaten by the last 2 weeks of 30C and no rain. But a plant that has just adored it, is my unknown Penstemon, bought 2 years ago at the lovely Jardin d’Antin, where Gertrud has a very good eye for a plant.

Isoplexis canariensis, the Lazarus of the garden, Tostat, June 2020

Years ago, I grew Isoplexis canariensis from seed and had two big pots blooming magnificently. I left them out over the winter once, bad mistake. But incredibly, last year, three small plants re-emerged from death and this year, with a guarantee of good behaviour from me, they are back. I had them kept dry but with protection in the open barn last winter, and they really liked that. Masses of water and some feed to kickstart them and they have flowered 2 months earlier than they used to. I adore the colour, and the glossy evergreen leaves are a great foil to the orange-rusty flowers.

Libertia ixioides ‘Goldfinger’, Tostat, June 2020

This is a really lovely Libertia. These plants have had a slightly chequered history with me, as I grew them successfully from seed and then planted them out in an area that was a bit too tough for them. So, out they came and went into the Mix, the massed perennial planting under the cherry tree. This slim Libertia is not a fastgrower, but it is especially good in the winter, when the orange stripes on the leaves really glow. But this is the first time they flowered, with a sprinkling of these charming white flowers- which, when woven in amongst the other perennials, charmingly catch the eye.

Nigella papilosa ‘African Bride’, Tostat, June 2020

I am a grumpy annuals grower- they aren’t really my thing, but I grew some of this Nigella that we were going to give away as ‘freebie pollinator’ plants at our Tostatenfleur event in April- but it didn’t happen because of covid-19. However, I have loved this slightly different Nigella for the drama of the petals and stamens combo. And in early morning sunshine, the stamens have a ruby glow to them. I am saving the seed for sure…

Oenethora speciosa, Tostat, June 2020

Some people hate this evening primrose, Oenethora speciosa, but the trick is to plant it in rubbish soil and full sun. Any conditions more luxurious will ensure you have a massive growth and it will run and run. And even with rubbish soil, be prepared to yank masses out. Having said that, in low light, the gorgeous shell-pink flowers, of which there hundreds every day, glow. I have been known to be snobby about it, but actually, it is a good doer in controlled conditions.

Pelargonium ‘Ardens’, Tostat, June 2020

This species Pelargonium is a delight- deep red flowers with an enticing darker splash, and needs no special treatment other than a dry winter, protected from the cold, and then watering to wake it up in the spring once frost has finished.

Punica granatum ‘Mme Legrelliae’, Tostat, June 2020

This is a great flowering shrub, which deserves to be better known really. There is nothing quite like the frilly-hankerchief look of the coral and cream flowers. It’s a non-fruiting pomegranate, but is hardy down to -15C and is very happy in not particularly great soil that is free-draining. It won’t like water round the roots in winter. I wrote a post a couple of years ago about the naming and history of the plant, a fascinating story of important, but unknown horticultural women.

Rosa ‘Alissar, Princess of Phoenicia’, Tostat, June 2020

This rose, Rosa ‘Alissar, Princess of Phoenicia’, which I bought with my pal Jane at Chelsea from Harkness several years ago, is a Persian descendant, and is bred for heat tolerance. It grows pretty well in a slightly damper bit of the garden. I love the early apricot-pink colouring, just a bit disappointing that it fades to what I would call a dull brick colour- but never mind. The open, single structure makes it more useful for pollinators than many roses.

Rosa ‘Cuisse de Nymphe’, Tostat, June 2020

Here is a ready-made bouquet of Rosa ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ or ‘Cuisse de Nymphe’ here in France. It smells lovely and blooms off and on in waves all summer.

Rosa ‘New Dawn’, Tostat, June 2020

I am very fond of Rosa ‘New Dawn’– it has that perfect shell-pink, with a lot of cream in it, a bit of an ice-queen really. But the slightly angular petals appeal to me and it lasts well, flowering for about a month in a lazy droop over the garden wall.

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’, Tostat, June 2020

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’ struggles a bit with me, a bit too dry and hot for it I think, but the colour is fabulous. This photograph does not do it justice- think the deepest, richest crimson velvet, and you are almost there.

Salvia cacaliifolia, Tostat, June 2020

And now for the Battle of the Blues- won only just by Salvia cacaliifolia. This is a tender salvia, with bright light green ivy-shaped leaves, which will just about twine upwards with a little support. I have it supported by a bit of redundant barbecue grill, not yet wind-tested as a support, but it is working for the moment. The blue is deep, and electric.

Salvia patens, Tostat, June 2020

Salvia patens is just a tad lighter in tone, but scores for really big flowers. Oddly it has the same ivy-shaped leaves as cacaliifolia, but has more of a darcyii look about it.

Rosa ‘Woollerton Old Hall’, Ludlow, June 2017

I saw this rose in Ludlow a couple of years ago, and just the year before, I bought it for a rose-loving friend in Tostat, who has just returned the favour beautifully by growing on and giving me a very good looking cutting. I missed the flowers of my new rose in the rain, so luckily had a photo from 2017. I am so looking forward to it. Thank you, H and M, very much.

Catching the eye…

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Rosa Woollerton Old Hall, Ludlow, June 2017

There is a lot of recovery going on in the garden after our harsh summer- but we also have had Scottish weather the past two weeks, strong winds, heavy rain and fresh temperatures- so everything has slightly stopped in its tracks, not quite knowing what is going on.  Me included.  So, thinking back over the spring and summer, here is a mixture of plants that caught my eye and survivors in the garden.  Rosa ‘Woollerton Old Hall’ is a creamy-yellowy-apricot rose that just seems to keep on giving.  I bought one as a gift for a friend and she has been delighted with it all summer- and apparently, it has an strong and unusual scent, which makes it a good ‘un all round.

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Jane’s pretty white geranium, Ludlow, June 2017

In my friend Jane’s garden, a lovely blue-veined white geranium, not sure which, looked glorious in late June.

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Potentilla ‘Arc en Ciel’, Ludlow, June 2017

I loved the burnished look of this Potentilla ‘Arc en ciel’ which I saw in the Ludlow Food Centre garden section.  Golden tips to the petals and a darker, ruffled centre- very pretty.

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Rosa ‘Wild Eve’, Ludlow, June 2017

Again in Jane’s garden, this sumptuous rose ‘Wild Eve’ is almost Titian-esque in habit, hanging in swags over the foliage.

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Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’, Ludlow, June 2017

Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ is adorable and could be seen all over Shropshire in June. It doesn’t like Tostat- and the only Monarda that does is ‘Monarda fistulosa’ which can take some dryness without mildew.

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Jane’s garden, Ludlow, June 2017

A big investment pays off in Jane’s garden.  A great idea to create a rising range of arches creating a strong diagonal sweep over the garden.

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Rosa ‘Ginger Syllabub’, Ludlow, June 2017

Another ‘Jane’ rose, very pretty and just perfectly balanced on the acidic side of pink and peach.

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Jane’s garden, a longer view, Ludlow, June 2017

A longer view of Jane’s garden- showing the full effect of the well-positioned arches.

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Caryopteris clandonensis ‘Hint of Gold’ with the orange Abutilon behind it, Tostat, September 2017

At last, a little colour and life returns to us in Tostat- I love the orange and the blue, the blue gets deeper as the flowers mature, which makes for a great contrast with the lime-green foliage.  Such a good plant.

And, the only flowers on Geranium ‘Havana Blues’ this summer can be counted on the fingers of one hand.  But, I am rethinking some of the planting to give this good geranium a bit more cover, and hopefully, there will be more flowering next summer. Geraniums are forgiving, although you have to wait until next year.

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Geranium ‘Havana Blues’, Tostat, September 2017