Still slightly reeling from a trip north of the border to Caroline and her fun-loving Highland friends – just how many parties can you fit into three days? and why do they hold a Harley-Davidson reunion rally in the Cairngorms over August Bank Holiday? (it’s called ‘Thunder in the Glens’!). I definitely needed a restorative perambulation round my own garden this morning which revealed some plants which, unlike me, seemed to be peaking right now, and provided just the tonic I needed:
Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, is a bit of a marmite plant but I love marmite so I was delighted to come home to find the glistening purple-black berries on this classy architectural weed (our feature picture above). It pops up in the most unexpected places but then really owns that space – respect.
Amaryllis belladonna, which was leafy earlier in the summer then went very quiet, has now thrown up the most amazing sugar pink flowers with an alluring silky smooth vanilla scent. It’s deadly poisonous, so properly dramatic.
Dahlia ‘Hadrian’s Midnight’. My dahlias have been late on parade this summer but an inch of rain has pepped them up no end and this variety is about as good as a dahlia gets in my book.
Sedum ‘Red Cauli’ – whoops no, it’s changed its name hasn’t it? Luckily it’s Louise’s plant of the moment and she can explain more.
Restored by my garden tour I reflected that it might have been more restful to have spent a few days with Elaine in her dreamy Normandy chateau than try to keep up with the Celtic fringe, but then I heard that Elaine’s most recent house guests had been made to spend the Bank Holiday weekend erecting her new socking great greenhouse…
Well what IS the point of one’s daughter getting married into a family of structural engineers if you can’t put them to work?
The only quid pro quo for all this greenhouse-building was me spending a lot of time wandering through the garden trying to persuade a wide-eyed three-month old grandson to sleep. Stanley was frankly pretty rubbish at the Latin names, but showed a mild interest in flowery things, such as Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ which greets September with glorious sheaves of yellow-eyed mauve flowers. The clumps grow to about a metre tall and the flowers teem with insects on sunny days.
I was keen to point out to my little semi-bald friend that many ornamental grasses don’t truly show their mettle until September and pheasant’s tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana) is one such. Its very slim dark-green leaves have been building through the summer, and are now starting to turn gold, copper and bronze with arching pink gossamer flowers which waft above it like tiny rosy raindrops.
I’ll be honest, Stanley was looking pretty bored by now, and I doubt if he fully appreciated the glorious re-flowering of my Chelsea rose ‘Champagne Moment’. As his eyelids at last drooped, I thanked the garden for yet another service to mankind, and handed Stan the Man back to his grateful mother. Then glowing with job-satisfaction, I sauntered over to give an hour’s worth of helpful advice to the construction-workers, I’m sure they appreciated it..
I’m not surprised little Stanley dropped off . He wouldn’t be the first to sleep through one of Elaine’s Latin lessons. And those insipid nodding grasses and pale roses sound a little dull for me. Personally I’m still up for a bit of action, a bit of pizzazz (as Laura discovered here last weekend when she had to stay up beyond 9pm, forego her Horlicks and actually join in with some fun for a change).
No, Autumn is when the garden wholly responds to my love of bright orange. Scotland’s intensifying default to grey at this time of year makes Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ a pretty mandatory feature in my garden. I grow them intentionally beside a dark Physocarpus and accidentally beside some blue asters – the whole arrangement makes me look quite the international garden designer.
So, for a good autumnal orange fix – Crocosmia – good; nasturtiums – wonderful; Achillea – excellent. But then I have a problem. Fellow orange fetishists will appreciate the issues I have with my Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’ – they’re not even ‘slightly’ let alone ‘totally’ tangerine, they’re a rather feeble pink and yellow combo. If Mother Nature was Dulux, she’d be getting a letter.
Without doubt my most outstanding performers right now are my fantastically, wonderfully orange sunflowers which are looking the best they’ve looked all summer – freebie from a magazinus if you want the Latin name.