Solanum laxum ‘Creche du Pape’

I love the potato family (Solanaceae), and while two of them are already great favourites, this one is relatively new to me and it’s very exciting to see it in flower in its first year. If you search for it online you will immediately spot discrepancies in the name, (and why on earth would the pope need a crèche?!) but I’m going to stick with the most commonly used. As a family they are a generous lot, their growth is exuberant and they don’t stint on flowers. S. crispum ‘Glasnevin’ AGM, known as the Chilean potato tree, is more...

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Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Erika’

One of the great pleasures towards the end of a holiday is to anticipate my first stroll around the garden upon our return. A week’s absence allows us to look at it all with fresh eyes, to enjoy the subtle changes, to notice the first flowers on an old favourite reappearing. This week Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Erika’ stands out for me; partly because much of the rest of the garden is in ‘green’ mode, waiting for the late summer flowers to start in earnest. But ‘Erika’ is more than just colour, it adds elegance and structure to the whole border,...

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Cool foliage and egg shells

  There is no doubt that on a hot July day, it is extraordinarily restful to the eye to come across a swath of large leaves amidst all the visual bustle and vibrancy of flowers and smaller leaves. We almost require them, in order to make it all work: they act as an anchor, a backdrop and a foil, and it is easy to overlook this when planning a border. There are so many choices for foliage, but the bergenia in my photograph (B ciliata) has already given me much pleasure in March, when its beautiful little pink flowers...

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Geranium pratense ‘Southease Celestial’

After I bought this geranium (from the marvellous Marchants Hardy Plants), and watched it transform into a celestial cloud of powder blue the following year, I felt I needed to visit it’s place of origin, so this took me to the tiny village of Southease lying due south of Lewes in East Sussex, tucked away in a beautiful corner of the South Downs National Park. Southease holds an annual plant fair on the green, and also hosts an open gardens day. So despite its size (population approx.50), it has many attractions not least a beautiful 12th century church with...

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