In the heat…

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The very first flower on home-grown Clematis tangutica ‘Helios’, with the new camera, Tostat, August 2018

A few weeks ago, The Mindful Gardener posted about buying a macro lens- with some fantastic photographs to go with it.  Not quite got the budget for that, and was also limping on with my much-loved Panasonic Lumix FX70, managing to dodge the dustspots that had started to gather at the back of the lens inside the camera.  Overnight, one night, the dustspots got serious- and there wasn’t a bit of an image that you could fudge past them with.  An attempt at microsurgery was made by Andy, but he retreated as the camera innards looked in peril, so I decided to bite the bullet and find a new-to-me camera that would shift me very slightly into a more sophisticated camera field.

I have been playing with my Nikon Coolpix P510 all week and enjoying it- whilst gradually trying to work my way through the extensive manual to the things that I want to be able to do, rather than everything that it can do- except cook my supper, apparently.  It is a much bigger and more serious looking item than my old camera, and I do feel slightly fraudulent at slinging it round my neck as if I knew what I was doing.  But it is fun.

As the heat is now in the late 30s for the next few days, I am retreating indoors and remaining there pretty much all day- I am not of a stern constitution when it comes to heat, too much sweating and pale skin- not an attractive combination!

Back in the garden, when the heat is hanging, a colour co-ordinated yellow spider has turned up on my adored Patrinia scabiosifolia.  Talk about blending in.  He should be working for MI5 or 6.

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Patrinia predator, Tostat, August 2018

And then…

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Prey arrives and is despatched swiftly
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Followed by friend …or foe…or afters…

That spider is still there, 4 days later, simply getting fatter.

Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’is not enjoying the heat.  She always flowers a good month after the rest of the Crocosmia tribe, but is smaller in every way, except for the flowers which are a gorgeous jaffa orange, scarlet and yellow combination.  I think she is probably at the limit of her endurance with us, especially this summer when the heat has suddenly really cranked up, but crocosmia are incredibly tough, and will battle on almost regardless of the circumstances.

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Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora Emily McKenzie, Tostat, August 2018

Rudbeckias are part of the turning from mauve and blue to yellow and orange in the garden about this time of year.  ‘Goldsturm’ is a really good plant, especially if their golden colour can be discovered accidentally mingled amongst other plants, and if the light is just right, there really is a flash of gold.

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Rudbeckia fulgida var.sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, early morning sun, Tostat, August 2018

Another Rudbeckia that I love is Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’.  A taller (up to 2m this year), more graceful, refined fellow with multiple small, reflexed petals like quills.  I have worried in the past that I have lost this plant, as it is slowish to get going in the spring, and can easily be mistaken for a regular, annoying old Helianthus- of which I have way too many.  But, whatever is going on, except for monsoon conditions, he appears and gently spreads, drifting about through and amongst other plants.

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Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’, Tostat, August 2018

And new to me this year, but I am already smitten, is Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’ which I bought from the excellent Bernard Lacrouts at Sanous.  Multiple flowering goes on, up and down the branching upright stems, small flowers which dot about very gracefully.  The jury is out, as yet, but the signs are good for a reliable, take what weather comes, kind of plant.  The colour mutes a little in the heat, it was a bit brighter last week before the craziness started.

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Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’, Tostat, August 2018

Time to hide away indoors now.  Thank you so much to all who have commented in the last few weeks, I am sorry I haven’t replied to each one as per usual, just too much going on!  The comments are wonderful and are very much appreciated.

 

Getting to August…

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Sanguisorba menziesii, Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Tiny Wine’, with the odd touch of Verbena bonariensis, Tostat, July 2018

I have been re-planting this area over the past 2 years.  The Sanguisorba menziesii was a seed-success about 5 or 6 years ago, and likes it much better here where there is some cool in the morning and early afternoon.  The Rudbeckia was another seed-story, funny that, as this year I have drawn a complete blank with some extra Rudbeckia seed.  Common but very bonny nonetheless, the Rudbeckia fulgida var.sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ lights up the dark colouring of the Sanguisorba, and Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Tiny Wine’.

Warning: ‘Tiny Wine’ is not that tiny- heading easily towards 1.5m x 1.5 or maybe 2m in height, but it is a real 3 season-player.  Warm red Spring shoots are followed by soft pink-white flowers, and then the deep colouring starts with the leaves, which, by late autumn, glow crimson-red with colder nights.

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Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’, Tostat, July 2018

Further down this stretch are two Hydrangea paniculatas- ‘Phantom’ and ‘Great Star le Vasterival’.  They have toiled a bit the last two years with dry Springs and hot summers, but have been greatly restored by the wet, cool, even cold Spring we have had this year.  They are both a creamy-white, with ‘Phantom’ having the more typical conical flowers of the Paniculata, whilst ‘Great Star le Vasterival’ has a looser, almost mop-head shape.  The ‘Phantom’ photo was taken very early one morning, hence the almost blue colouring.

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Hydrangea paniculata ‘Great Star le Vasterival’, Tostat, August 2017
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Eryngium planum, Tostat, July 2018

Across the path, albeit fairly flattened by the heavy rain of 10 days or so ago, Eryngium planum is the bluest I have ever seen it.  I used to see this plant in bunches at markets visiting France when we were younger, and I was sure that the flowerheads were somehow dyed!  But no.  It is a fabulous, trouble-free plant given very good drainage, and in the heat, the colour is phenomenal.

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Liatris spicata ‘Alba’, Tostat, July 2018

July is the month for Liatris spicata.  I have the purple-pink one and the white, both superb and great pinpoints in the garden, giving structure and depth.  Liatris is perennial, but variably does or doesn’t make it back the following year. But the very best way to grow them is to sling in new bulbs every Spring, if you hunt for them, you can buy them really cheaply, but they give a lot for a few pence and there is a chance you will double your money the following year.

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Accidental loveliness, Liatris spicata pushing though Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, Tostat, July 2018

 

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Mirabilis jalapa, Tostat, July 2018

July and into August brings back Mirabilis jalapa.  This tuberous plant is utterly unaffected by heat and dryness.  It has a lush, jungly look, and yet will grow almost anywhere as long as there is full sun.  Bob Flowerdew talks about lifting the tubers as per dahlias- but if you have free-draining soil, in my experience, try leaving it in as it comes back in the Spring even after periods of -10C with us.  It should be ludicrously easy from seed.  Ah well.

In amongst the gone-over pale blue Agapanthus, popped up this lovely white one this week.  Sometimes, gifts appear from nowhere…

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The lone white Agapanthus, Tostat, July 2018

 

 

The truly wonderful Henryk Eilers

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Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henryk Eilers’, Tostat, July 2015
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Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henryk Eilers’, Tostat, August 2015

Apparently, according to the ‘English Garden’, this very agreeable plant, Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henryk Eilers’ is one of Nigel Dunnett‘s favourite plants of the last two decades- I would agree wholeheartedly.  It is not a ‘blingy’ plant- rather, it is a good, strong grower that has even come through our terrible drought this summer, though, admittedly, the flowers are the size of a fingernail, tiny in comparison with these photographs of 2 years ago.

It grows as well as ‘Goldsturm’, and like ‘Goldsturm’, will take pretty much whatever is thrown at it, in terms of weather and conditions.  But it should become a slender giant, up to 1.5m or taller, with supple, strong stems that bounce back, and these lovely, quilled flowers with the typical dark chocolate Rudbeckia centre.  The yellow is softer than ‘Goldsturm’, and the quilling gives the whole flower a delicate appearance.  But delicate, it ain’t.

It was discovered alongside a stream near railway tracks in open prairie in Illinois by a retired nurseryman, Henry Eilers.  It first appeared on the commercial market in 2003 and has won hearts across the world ever since.  I bought it in, maybe, 2007, when I found a small nursery, Groenstraat 13, in Belgium that specialised in Dan Hinckley introductions, and it arrived safe and sound in the post.  Rik from ‘Groenstraat 13’ called it ‘Henryk Eilers’ and because it reminds me of Sondheim’s ‘A Little Night Music’, I like to keep the Flemish version of the name.  For more about this great plant, see this article by North Creek Nurseries in Pennsylvania.

It has toiled this year, but, I have a mind to dig it up and divide it sooner rather than later.  My experiment, inspired by Monty Don’s visit to Jimi Blake and Hunting Brook Gardens in Ireland, in early division of two clumps of Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ has been a real success- I am now a proud parent of 35 rapidly growing small plants in pots as opposed to two rather exhausted parent plants in a dried out garden.  Not bad, eh?!

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Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’, Tostat, June 2016

And, to remind myself about the great Nigel Dunnett, here are a couple of photographs from his RHS Chelsea gardens in 2011 and 2013.  I love his work.

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Nigel Dunnett’s Habitat Walls appearing through the planting, The New Wild Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011.
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Nigel Dunnett’s Blue Water Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013.

 

 

Weather is weather…

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Hibiscus palustris, after the rain, Tostat, August 2017

I am really trying.  To accept the weather for what is is, and not rail against it.  For being too hot, for being too dry, too windy, rarely too grey but sometimes, and so on.  Monty Don says that this is the only way to garden.  But it is a hard habit to break.  So, I am trying to get even rather than angry.  Thinking of what I can do to help the garden be more bountiful in the hard, hot days of summer, and planning more tough structure to support those perennials which can make it through.

But these plants give me hope- as does the weather in the last couple of weeks- which has remembered to rain on occasion.  Dahlias have been a bit of a disaster this summer.  New bulbs that I bought have not come up at all, and everything has been on a serious go-slow.  But I am so glad that this appeared.  With a wonderfully exotic name, Dahlia ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’ (whatever that means) is actually gorgeous.  Sharp, tart carmine red around the golden centre gives way to almost-black twiddled petals.  There is probably a better botanical term than ‘twiddled’ but I am sure you get my drift.

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Dahlia ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’, Tostat, August 2017

Two small plants survived the beating summer of my self-grown Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Burgundy’, but they make me very happy and I will grow more.

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Gallardia x grandiflora ‘Burgundy’, Tostat, August 2017

And you can’t keep this Rudbeckia down.  It is widely used because it is such a dependable plant. It may be half the size it normally is, but it still comes back fighting. Another trait to battle is snobbery against good and dependable plants.

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Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, Tostat, August 2017

If the wind is in the right direction, the light in the right place and you don’t look too hard at the detail,  some of the garden is still quite presentable despite it all.

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Lovely disguising evening light does well if veiled through leaves, Tostat, August 2017
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Populus deltoides ‘Purple Tower’‘ is undeterred, Pennisetum alopecuroides and Miscanthus Malepartus, with not-yet-flowering Miscanthus Silberfeder, and a bit of artistic light drifting in, Tostat, August 2017