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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Artemisia lactiflora ‘Elfenbein’

I say the word ‘artemisia’, and immediately springs to my mind the many silver-leaved forms that I already have in our garden. These are abrotanum, ludoviciana, absinthium, and pontica to name but a few, and the family also includes A dracunculus (French tarragon). Often aromatic, and with finely divided, decorative foliage, they are a useful family to know. A few years ago I came across A lactiflora Ghizou Group and it looked startlingly different with its purple flushed, dark green foliage and striking, tall, creamy white flowers in midsummer. More recently I added today’s special plant, A lactiflora ‘Elfenbein’...

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