We are back, nearly 8 weeks after we left a hot, dry, dusty Tostat in September. Coming back is such a strange experience. Not just the usual hoo-haa of unpacking, washing clothes and re-discovering everything that has been inadverdently moved as our lovely housesitters made the place theirs- but re-connecting with the growing garden. It feels as if the garden’s mind of its own has taken over- my brain struggled to remember names of plants, and some had radically changed in size and power with the late October rain. The garden has become an alien, though still vaguely familiar place. I have walked around it almost as if I am visiting it in the past few days. So much change, so much growth- the small gradations of change have been obliterated by not being here, and the impact of it all was somehow viscerally unexpected.
The Salvia africana-lutea was a wonderful shock. Firstly, I had expected the flowering bracts to be more of a dusty orange, but they really are as tropical an orange as the photo above shows. Secondly, when I left, the plant was a one-year old baby, and had toiled a bit in the dry and the heat. Now, it’s the plant equivalent of a bonny, bouncing toddler and it is looking very strong. I just managed to grow the one seedling to adult- I never find Salvias easy from seed, but I had to try as this one is hard to find.
And here was another wonderful shock. Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’ was a new one for me this year- and I bought it mainly for its very bright green leaves with a powerful aroma, so these marvellous fat rounded bracts and buds are really an extra surprise. It does flower late in the autumn, but this year has worked really well for it.
I am a bit ashamed of my behaviour with this plant. I picked it up as a bargain plant two years ago, but it has merely existed so far in the garden and I have rather ignored it. But, I should know that many shrubby plants take a good 2 years to get their feet down in our garden- and so it has proved with this Abelia. But, it was very refreshing this hot, dry summer to have the Abelia grandiflora cultivar hit its stride in September with fresh, light pink blossoms and pinky-tinged leaves.
This autumn has, so far, been very calm and so the golden foliage on ‘Purple Tower’ has lasted and lasted. This tree has also found its mojo this year and has put on really good growth no doubt with the assistance of roots having found the canal.
So the next week is about re-connecting, finding and remembering what I was doing 2 months ago, and beginning to make some plans for next year. It’s a good time to be home.