Eryngium planum

This is the perfect summer for Eryngium planum, and the difference between last year’s performance and this, is marked. In 2017 we had much more rain and not a lot of sun and my sea hollies produced too much lush growth, the stems flopped, and the effect was unremarkable. By contrast, this summer, the open, upright habit shows off to perfection a multitude of silvery blue flower heads (about the size of a thimble) with narrow bracts, and they are irresistible to bees, butterflies and other insects. Sun and good drainage are key, as is low fertility, so they are especially...

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Grow-How Tips for High Summer

  The summer rolls on, and what a scorcher we’ve had so far! Water-preservation has been the order of the day round here and the drought-tolerant plants have had a field day while much else has struggled. To take your mind off miserable mimulus and such like, here are a few tasks to be getting on with: HELPING THE HERBS I wonder if your herb-patch is starting to look a bit woolly and floppy by now – ours certainly is!  – this is a good time to cut it back and encourage fresh new leaves to form before the end of the summer. Do...

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Who needs rain when you’ve got soapwort?

As in ‘Life’,  amongst garden plants there are winners and there are losers. And then there are those  who diligently graft away in the background until circumstances collude to give them that moment to shine – their Gareth Southgate moment, their Diving Rescue Team moment. So it has been this summer in my garden. There was a moment at the end of May when the living was easy. Warm and wet, the garden bounced back from the grip of the beast and everything seemed almost preternaturally luxuriant, more like a digitally enhanced garden theme park. But global climate change...

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Itea ilicifolia AGM

There’s no doubt that many herbaceous perennials suffer during hot dry spell, and although I try to keep watering anything that I have planted this year, those longer established plants just have to survive on their own reserves. However, in the shrub category, there are one or two which seem positively to thrive, to glow even: the most obvious in our garden being the not-so-often-encountered Itea ilicifolia. This hardy evergreen shrub has fresh, mid-green, holly-shaped leaves, and right now it is covered in cool lime-green icicles … exceptionally long and graceful summer catkins which will flower right through to...

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