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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Vital

Vitex agnus-castus var. latifolia

SEPTEMBER: Vitex agnus–castus var. latifolia. I must start by mentioning the garden where I first saw this month’s plant. A few years ago I took my mother on a little garden-visiting jaunt to South Wales and we came across this gem of a garden nestling in a beautiful and secluded valley with breathtaking views. Tucked into the hillside, it was filled with treasures including many salvias and other Mediterranean plants. I saw their vitex in full flower and fell for it. Vitex is a magnet for bees, butterflies and other insects and bears upright sprays of fragrant, lavender blue flowers from...

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Koelireuteria Paniculata - Golden Rain Tree

Koelreuteria paniculata – Golden Rain Tree

AUGUST: Koelreuteria paniculata – Golden Rain Tree.   That I love propagating all plants goes without saying, but above all I have a particular fondness for trees that I have raised from seed. So much is invested: the collection, the sowing, the waiting, the watching, the watering. Then by magic, or so it seems, a tiny green shoot appears, and others soon follow. So a few years ago I was walking through the Cambridgeshire village of Hemingford Grey with my sister, when we stopped in our tracks to admire a beautiful ‘Golden Rain Tree’ in the churchyard. Instantly I...

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Sphaeralcea incana ‘Sourup’

JULY: Sphaeralcea incana ‘Sourup’. I just love mallows, and can’t understand why they are not more popular; they have so much going for them. As a genus, sphaeralceas are sun loving, mostly hardy and very free flowering from mid-summer through to late autumn. They are undemanding but need well drained soil. We are on clay, so I often add a couple of spadefuls of grit at planting time … organic matter is good but grit is better! Many sphaeralceas make superb specimens in a pot ( ‘Newleaze Coral’ is beautiful), but I have found that Sourup prefers to be...

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