Salvia leucantha

  We are spoilt for choice this autumn, the garden is still full of colour and although it’s set to get colder next week, it really has been a wonderfully mild autumn so far. Salvia  leucantha known as Mexican bush sage, is a sub-shrub reaching to about a metre in height. I grow mine in my autumn border but it’s also a really good choice for a container because long before the flowers appear, indeed showing no hint of what will come in October, the foliage alone, with its felty willow shaped leaves, will play its part. The flowers...

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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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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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