mauve salvia

Overwintering tender perennials – is it worth the bother?

So you succumbed to temptation and bought a lovely salvia just starting to flower in late July and now it is still looking great but frosts are threatening and you are wondering what you should do. Salvias are a bit of a task to keep going year on year, they mainly come from places like Mexico and Africa where winters are not as cold and wet as we get here, so a bit of forethought is needed. Some of the hardier cultivars such as ‘Amistad’ and ‘Phyllis Fancy’ you may be able to leave in the ground with the safeguard of...

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dahlia merckii

Dahlia merckii

  OCTOBER: Dahlia merckii. Now I am not a big fan of dahlias, for me the flowers are too brash and the growth rather ungainly: but here I’ll make an exception. This plant is a species, (and I hope you were paying attention to Laura’s piece and video on plant nomenclature!) so comes true from seed and is a cut above the others. We are now entering the season of seed catalogues and sowing, and it was exactly a year ago that I bought my seed from Derry Watkins at Special Plants Nursery. Incidentally, this is a fantastic source, of...

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bulb lasagnes

Bulb lasagne – not everyone’s favourite dish

Planting spring bulbs? Just like boiling an egg, it looks easy on the face of it but has a sneaky timing aspect that can totally b**ger things up. Memories will eventually dim of my Inverewe chess board experience. I wanted to recreate that Highland garden’s striking black and white tulip bed. What a stunner – fab-u-lous x 10. However, my lack of attention to timing saw a random scattering of ‘White Prince’ tulips shoot up in late March, flower, die and collapse on top of some tiny ‘Queen of the Night’ shoots which struggled through in May to a luke warm reception...

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pink grass

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Herbstzauber’

OCTOBER: Pennisetum alopecuroides  ‘Herbstzauber’. Now I bet you don’t know what a forb is, and nor did I until I sat down to write this piece, and it could be a good one if you play scrabble. It is a herbaceous flowering plant other than a grass. My chosen plant is a pennisetum, and I was reading a small booklet on grasses published by the Hardy Plant Society*. In the introduction the author rightly points out that many grasses appear to be in flower for far longer than any forbs because of course the beauty of the seed heads...

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