This has been a windy month like no other. Positively Scottish amounts of wind, with little warmth, have torn across the garden most days this month, scorching the soil and ripping at the plants.
This Clematis viticella, whose name I have forgotten, is a very forgiving plant that comes back and back. I had hoped to be able to grow clematis when we moved here, but a few deaths quickly taught me that we did not possess the best conditions for most clematis, and I was about to give up. Talking to Thorncroft Clematis at Chelsea one year, persuaded me to have a try with this Clematis viticella and Clematis texenis ‘Princess Diana’. I grow them them both tucked into a forest of woodland shrubs and early spring perennials, and I mostly forget to cut them back as they are way down in the undergrowth, but each early summer, they pop up again growing through and over the shrubs. I love the dark blue against the creamy white of the ‘Annabelle’.
I can claim no credit for this combination which stayed still for the camera and was here when we moved in. The last couple of years, this hydrangea, has got bluer and bluer. Maybe it’s the early summer rain that we have been experiencing more and more, but the Nerium oleander is obviously enjoying the conditions too, despite being a highly drought tolerant plant. We did, however, paint the shutters!
This is a giant of a rose and a serious thug, Rosa ‘Kiftsgate’. But it has done a great screening job for us on the wall bordering the road, and it has hung on for grim death in seriously high winds, looking pretty unbattered and just losing its scent when the temperature drops. I love it for its abundance, hanging in great swags of flowers with golden stamens from 3m above the ground. You need body armour to deal with it, so probably best grown only where you will never need to interfere with it. And, of course, it only flowers once in June, but it is a fabulous sight when it does.
Verbena bonariensis is a really tough customer, but even it has been decked by the wind this year. I once had it in a ‘proper’ place in the garden, but it moved out as soon as it could and did, actually, what it does best, working as a fringe to the other bits of the garden that are dry and hot. I adore it for this haze of colour and light, dancing habit. But it is a scratcher of bare legs, be warned! Another plant that made its mind up to go its own way, is Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, the spreading low grass that you can see in the photograph. This came from a tall pot in Scotland with us, and I stuck it in here without really thinking. It now thoroughly enjoys life in the blazing sun, in one of our driest spots, and, in other words, completely confounds much conventional wisdom about it preferring moisture and dappled shade. Just goes to show- it’s always worth trying, though best off with an insurance policy plant in hand.
From the back door the other night, with towels laid like sandbags against the door, we watched a tempest roar through, culminating in M&M sized hail which lay like lots of tiny eggs in all the plant pots giving them a horrible cold surprise. So, the lilies are not in the best shape, all more Hunchback of Notre Dame than lily, but we do have green in general, and plenty of it.
One plant, which is new to me this year, is Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Black Steel Zebra’. I bought it from one of the newer online nurseries, Promesse de fleurs, and I adore it. I have to say that it arrived a bit bashed up, but I am hoping for good things from the cuttings that gave me, so am not complaining. It has dark, dark, almost black stems, and is topped by dramatic flowers, creamy-green-yellow, which open out to a double-cream, Devon tea, kind of colour. In a pot for now, and should make a metre high and wide by next year, it is beguiling. Here it is.