Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Deep Danziger’ and other asters

There are certain genera that simply must be seen in flower before you buy them, and asters (or symphyotrichum as many of them have now become) are on that list. It is oh-so-easy to be swayed by glowing descriptions on labels or in catalogues, only to find that the colour and/or height weren’t quite what you were expecting, or that the habit is disappointing. There is no substitute for seeing the actual plant, talking to the person who has grown it, and there is no better place to do that than at a good plant fair. One of the best is held at...

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Vitis vinifera ‘Brant’

I have come to love autumn more as I get older; and for a gardener, extending the season through October and into November, it helps to reduce that dreaded void until January when the first snowdrops, hellebore flowers and other excitements emerge. Although it is essentially a grape vine, the primary point of growing Vitis ‘Brant’ is for its amazing and vibrant autumn colours which are all shades of deep crimson, red, purple, orange and yellow with green veins running through. If you like your grapes small, sweetish and with seeds, then these are an added bonus, and they...

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Gomphostigma virgatum

At first glance, this elegant, upright, small shrub looks as if it would revel in a dry sunny spot, much where you would expect to grow lavender and rosemary. You would imagine that its silver grey leaves and tiny white flowers would sit happily in a typical Mediterranean habitat. Well, it didn’t take long to discover that this plant originates in southern Africa … and guess what? It mostly grows along river banks and watercourses! I raised my plants from seed and planted them out the following spring. I am ashamed to admit that, at the time, I didn’t...

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Althaea Cannabina

Althaea cannabina

LOUISE SIMS WRITES: SEPTEMBER Althaea cannabina I’m all for transparency, and not just in the late summer or early autumn border! Over the last few weeks I have been looking long and hard at such plantings and have come to the conclusion that relentless clumps of Rudbeckia, Helenium, Eupatorium, Persicaria, Ligularia etc, do not always fit with the average garden plot. Okay in a prairie setting maybe, or setting off a public building, many of these plants are simply too dense and too hoggish and before you know it, there is no room for anything else. The trick is...

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