When keeping a diary can be dangerous

Do you keep a gardening diary?  You really, really should.  I recently found myself in France without mine, having unaccountably left it behind in England, and it was positively scary.  What was the name of that unusual buddleia I had planted?  Where was I going to move those monardas to? Which willow was it that Helen Dillon said could and should be stooled to three feet each winter?  I couldn’t remember but I knew I had it all written down in my precious little book. Even Louise with her encyclopaedic plant knowledge had to refer to her diary for the...

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Berries, hips and leaves

NOVEMBER: Berries, hips and leaves. Autumn is restful and harmonious; and if the sun shines in November, the crystal clear light is unbeatable. It is restful because unlike in springtime, there is no panic about getting on with jobs in the garden … we have all winter. One of my sisters once said to me “I hate that expression about putting the garden to bed” and having given it a bit of thought, I agree entirely. It sounds as if you’re not going to see it again; but actually, at this time of year, there is every reason to...

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Salvia leucantha

  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 are actually white and having Googled the meaning … Greek, leuc, white. Greek, anthos, a flower … (thanks Elaine!) I realise that it is the rich velvety purple calyces that we see as the flower.So...

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mauve salvia

Overwintering tender perennials – is it worth the bother?

So you succumbed to temptation and bought a lovely salvia just starting to flower in late July and now it is still looking great but frosts are threatening and you are wondering what you should do. Salvias are a bit of a task to keep going year on year, they mainly come from places like Mexico and Africa where winters are not as cold and wet as we get here, so a bit of forethought is needed. Some of the hardier cultivars such as ‘Amistad’ and ‘Phyllis Fancy’ you may be able to leave in the ground with the safeguard of...

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