Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’

There is a faint lull in our garden in the middle of June, many summer flowering plants are poised for the next act, but right now Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ is the show-stopper. It has been flowering for several weeks already and will continue to do so for many more to come … and it is truly eye catching. Three or four years ago I decided to test out a few different penstemons, so I bought plug plants, probably 20 or so different ones. Already, by the second season, ‘Dark Towers’ had filled the top slot, no question. It is...

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Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’ A.G.M.

Laura knows a good rose when she sees one! A few years ago she spotted a neglected specimen which was just about surviving near an aircraft hangar at Shoreham airport. It was autumn, the perfect time to take rose cuttings, and they thrived. She gave one to me and we all called it Rosa ‘Shoreham Airport’ until some time later I spotted it growing in a friend’s garden in London … and there was the label still on the shrub. Once seen, never forgotten, it is the most beautiful rose, bred by Robert Holmes in the UK, named after...

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Clematis ‘Black Tea’

If I wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep, I take a mental tour of the garden; and as it’s May I start by counting clematis. I get as far as C ‘Black Tea’ … beyond shadow of a doubt, it’s this week’s star plant and can only be described as ‘sumptuous’. It’s not just the depth of colour and subtle variations as the light changes, the flower petals have an amazing velvety texture. It grows to six to eight foot and is a prolific flowerer. It wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century...

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Paeonia mlokosewitschii A.G.M.

From the moment the first young shoots push their way up through the earth in early spring, I am watching its growth daily, and waiting for the buds on this captivating plant to form. The anticipation is part of the pleasure of P. mlokosewitschii (also known as ‘Molly the Witch’) … the primrose yellow, bowl-shaped flowers have a central mass of golden yellow stamens which are a magnet for bees, and the flowers themselves are set off to perfection by the glaucous blue-green foliage. This beautiful species is one of the first to flower, and sadly the flowers are very...

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