Getting to August…

Mix 718
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.

Hydrangea paniculata Phantom 718
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.

Hydrangea Great Star le Vasterival 817
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Great Star le Vasterival’, Tostat, August 2017
Eryngium 718
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.

Liatris spicata 718
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.

Liatris and Kalimeris 718
Accidental loveliness, Liatris spicata pushing though Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, Tostat, July 2018

 

Mirabiilis jalapa 2 718
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…

Agapanthus 718
The lone white Agapanthus, Tostat, July 2018

 

 

The slimmest of pickings…

Flipendula rubra and friend 717
Filipendula rubra Venusta and friend, Tostat, end July 2017

Well, actually, I’m not picking anything.  And the last couple of days have consisted of a massive electric storm, plummetting rain, and now we have boomeranged down to 17C from 37C, with grey skies and more heavy rain.  Not that I mind the rain, far from it, though it is a case of too little, too late, but at least it will reduce the death rate.  All small plants are being carefully tended and watered, not to venture into the ground until this madness is over.  But I liked this view of the Filipendula rubra Venusta, caught in morning sun a week or so ago, and thought that it looked good mingling in with the wild umbellifers.

Yesterday, the buds of the Hibiscus palustris still looked as if they were auditioning for a bondage movie, but today the first flower is out, photograph to follow if it survives this downpour.

Hibiscus palustris 817
Buds waiting on Hibiscus palustris, Tostat, August 2017

I grew this Hibiscus trionum from seed about five years ago, and it has finally made it to just over a metre tall in our poor, stony soil.  But it is beginning to look worth the effort, and it looks ridiculously green despite the dryness.  Oddly, most English sites describe it as an annual, but I have to say mine is quite definitely perennial.  Even our Maire gloomily pronounced last week that he hadn’t seen such dryness since the terrible summer of 2003, the summer when we first saw the house on our househunting visit over from Scotland.

Hibiscus trionum 817
Hibiscus trionum, Tostat, August 2017

Miscanthus sinensis Malepartus has decided to flower about a month earlier than normal and has gone straight to the silver stage.

Miscanthus Malepartus 817
Flowering already, Miscanthus sinensis Malepartus, Tostat, August 2017

The Sanguisorba menziessii clump that I moved last year is very much liking where it is- again, I suspect that there is water in small springs under this part of the garden.  But the lovely red flowerheads are quickly going over.

Sanguisorba menziesii 717
Sanguisorba menziesii, Tostat, August 2017
Vernonia crinita Mammuth 817
Vernonia crinita ‘Mammuth’, Tostat, August 2017

Vernonia crinita ‘Mammuth’ has been flattened prior to flowering this year, as the rain poured off the bending banana leaves, so there are only one or two stray flowerheads surviving.

Plumbago capensis 817
Plumbago auriculata capensis, Tostat, August 2017

Having talked about Ceratostigma last week, this week the rather more refined South African cousin, Plumbago auriculata capensis, started to flower.  In South Africa, this could grow in a lax fashion to maybe 2m high and wide, but with me, more like 1m x1m. It is definitely tender and has to come under cover at the end of autumn.  For me, the darker skyblue of the Ceratostigma willmottianum is more attractive than the paler Plumbago, but in the land of small pickings, I will take what I can get.

Hydrangea paniculata Vasterival 817
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Great Star le Vasterival’, Tostat, August 2017

This Hydrangea paniculata ‘Great Star le Vasterival’ flowerhead is perhaps half the size of last year, but I am glad it kept fighting to flower, and hope it gets an easier ride next year.  it is named after another incredible plantswoman, Princess Greta Sturdza. who died in 2009.  Of Norwegian and Russian background, she married into the Moravian Sturdza family, and on moving to France in 1955, began her superb garden at Le Vasterival, near Varengeville in Normandy.  Le Vasterival still exists as a garden, not far from Le Bois des Moutiers, with more than 9,000 species and varieties of plants.  More than fifty years of skill and passion created this garden, not to be missed if you are visiting Normandy.  Among her cultivars is Hydrangea paniculata Great Star le Vasterival.

 

Coming over all mauve…

July best 2 717
Liatris spicata, Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, Monarda fistulosa, Tagetes minuta, Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Baron’ and guest wild carrot, Tostat, July 2017

This new border, which I planted up this Spring, has saved my sanity this summer- well, almost.  There must be water under here, which I never noticed before as it used to be a jumble of messy shrubs- but water there is, throughout our burning temperatures, it has looked pretty much like this.  This photo was taken yesterday after rain, so the greens are all refreshed, but the plants are in great shape.  And I adore the self-sown wild carrot, which is frothing up at the back, so I have bought a packet of Daucus carota ‘Dara’ seed to amplify this effect myself next year with any luck. Monarda fistulosa has been torched in other parts of the garden but is still looking good here.  And I will definitely be growing the annual purple millet again, it is fabulous- I may even go for broke and grow the super-tall one, Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Majesty’, which can get to 1.5m.  It is super-easy from seed and then blows itself up in purple till the frosts see it off.

July best 4 717
Bupleurum fruticosum, Miscanthus Strictus and Buddleia ‘Nanho Blue’, Tostat, July 2017

Here is another bit that has done really well, although the Miscanthus is about 2/3 of the normal height.  The Bupleurum fruticosum has really hit it’s stride this year and is an insect cafeteria complex all on it’s own.

July best 6 717
Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Fuji White’, Tostat, July 2017

This plant is always a surprise, Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Fuji White’.   It just soars above the rest of the planting undeterred, and is such a cool customer.  Probably at it’s best in green surroundings, I love it.  It is helped by the fact that there is running water nearby no doubt.

July best 7 717
Salvia ‘Didi’, Tostat, July 2017

A slightly breezy-looking Salvia ‘Didi’, only in it’s first year and so still quite small, is nevertheless quite delightful with delicate pink and light apricot colouring.

July best 8 717
Tiny but indomitable, Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Mesa Yellow’, Tostat, 2017

Only about 10 cms high, yet this Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Mesa Yellow’ really does work hard in very dry conditions.  I managed to grow three decent plants from a small packet of seed last year, and I have really come to appreciate this plant, and will be growing more.

July best 717
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Tiny Wine’, Sanguisorbia and a stray Rudbeckia, Tostat, July 2017

I love this combination, and it is brought to life by the stray Rudbeckia.  This is another really good shrub, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Tiny Wine’, which I planted in last year and it has gone on and on, with tawny new growth that then colours up mauve or wine-coloured.  The Sanguisorba menziesii was grown from seed about 4 years ago and is now a great big clump, which I always forget to prop up until it’s too late.

July best 10 717
Another little group that have come together well, I think- Gaura lindheimeri, Lychnis, Phlomis russeliana, orange Abutilon, Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Hint of Gold’, Tostat, July 2017

And lastly, not out yet, but cheering me up, which has been the point of taking these photos really, (proving it’s not all burnt out there!), are the architectural buds of Hibiscus palustris….to come.

July best 9 717
Hibiscus palustris in bud, Tostat, July 2017