Inspiring colour…and form

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Terra Valley, Extremadura, October 2015.  Photo credit: Sandra Child

Sometimes what you see and feel in a landscape can make you jump with joy.  This photograph, taken by a fellow Via de la Plata walker, Sandra Child, captures the moment beautifully.  The reflections are so sharp. the colour so present, that you are immediately there- in the landscape and in the picture.  I love gold and blue in combination.  Such strong and vibrant colours that together are quite brilliant.

Last year, I was experimenting with blue and a more yellow gold than in the photograph.  I wasn’t sure if I had got there, but these two colours suddenly came together in the autumn in one plant.  Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Hint of Gold’.

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Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Hint of Gold’, Tostat, September 2015

Caught in a breath of wind that gives the photograph a romantic blur, this plant is a joy. Planted out last year when just a tiny, I wasn’t sure at all how it would cope with the extremes of temperature we had.  But it managed fine.  More than that, it bloomed profusely from September onwards until early December, and, before that, starting out as a sharp chartreuse green, the foliage softened to a beautiful gold by the end of the season. It handled dryness and heat like a pro.  Now it measures about 0.75m high and across, and should get a little bigger this year.

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Orange abutilon and Salvia ‘Waverly’, Tostat, November 2016

Just a slither along the colour spectrum is orange and blue.  This salvia, Salvia ‘Waverly’ is a fabulous plant.  They were bought as tiny little plugs in January last year from the very good ebay nursery, Eleplants, which I have bought lots from over the years.  By the end of November, the plants were all well over a metre high and wide, and covered with the striking dark calyx and contrasting pale, pale lilac flowers that you see above.  Next to the marmelade orange of the unknown abutilon, it was a treat in the garden just before winter. I have taken a risk and left the Salvias in over the winter.  They are hardy, apparently down to about -3C according to the books.  But they are well surrounded by other plants and not too far from the house, so I am chancing it.  Could be living dangerously, but they grow so fast that, if I do come a cropper, I’ll buy some more plugs and take cuttings next time.

A very good plant for a hot, dry situation that seems to shrug off winter as well, is Elsholtzia stauntonii.  I grew these from seed a couple of years ago, and last Spring they looked depressingly like dead sticks. But, no!  A couple of months later, in the hottest late Spring ever, they were shooting up and even flowered.  They will finish up this year as a tidy, leafy shrub with mint scented leaves and these charming flowerspikes of lilac pink, maybe they will get to a metre or so high and wide.  More importantly, they flower in August, which is a bonus.

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Bee on Elsholtzia stauntonii, Tostat, September 2015