Categories
Summer

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…

Categories
Summer

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 its place of origin, so this took me to the tiny village of Southease lying due south of Lewes in East Sussex, tucked away…

Categories
Summer

Hemerocallis citrina x ochroleuca

What plant shall I choose today? In the last 24 hours I have changed my mind at least three or four times, such is the amazing wealth of flowers in the garden in June.Amidst the tumbling profusion of roses, clematis, philadelphus, geraniums and all the rest, the cool poise of Hemerocallis citrina x ochroleuca won the…

Categories
Summer

Clematis ‘Belle of Woking’

I bought this clematis three years ago, a strong little plant in a 9cm pot and it has never looked back. I mention the size of the pot because I find that these young plants, although by their size are vulnerable and need a bit of extra protection initially, soon romp away and establish well.…

Categories
Summer

Heuchera ‘Brown Finch’

I am going for ‘subtle’ this week. If you want flamboyance, there is Chelsea! At this time of the year, almost every time I walk round the garden, something new is starting into flower, and naturally my attention is caught by the colour and exuberance of it all: roses, clematis, euphorbia, iris, paeonies … the…

Categories
Spring Great Plants this Month

Abutilon vitifolium ‘Veronica Tennant’

Thanks are due to Laura who gave me this beautiful shrub as a small cutting a few years ago. I was already growing A x suntense which has stunning deep bluey purple flowers, but its season is fleeting, whereas ‘Veronica Tennant’ is in bloom from late spring until well into the summer. This is a…

Categories
Spring Great Plants this Month

Viola labradorica: Syn Viola riviniana – Purpurea Group

Writing these twice monthly pieces, I am always learning something new, and this time I had to look up the exact whereabouts of Labrador. So now I know, and furthermore I understand why this little plant is so resilient, as it’s also native to Greenland. For me it stands out from other violas on account…

Categories
Spring Great Plants this Month

Coronilla valentina subsp.glauca ‘Citrina’

Sorry about the rather long title, but names mean everything in the plant world and in this instance ‘Citrina’ is the vital word because without it, you will get a plant which (in my opinion) bears rather unappealing chrome yellow flowers. Coronilla valentina is a member of the pea family, a small evergreen (approx. 80cms), but…

Categories
Spring

Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ AGM

MARCH Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ AGM In this most magical of months when there is so much happening in the garden, I want to put in a word for a member of the currant family. Again, all too often the only one available, and therefore most often seen, is the very drab pink R sanguineum.…

Categories
Spring

Bergenia emeiensis

Bergenia emeiensis Bergenia ciliata The name Bergenia might provoke a little shudder in some people, so I hope my photograph has instantly caught your attention, because this one is about as far as one can get from the murky pinky purple offerings most commonly seen in spring. B emeiensis is a compact, hardy, evergreen plant;…

Categories
Spring

Pulmonaria rubra

Pulmonarias are among the earliest herbaceous perennials to flower in springtime, and Pulmonaria rubra is the first; its hairy stems and fresh green leaves emerging in January are soon followed by the flowers. These are a delightful shade of coral pink or red (with not a hint of blue!) and they associate well not only with some…

Categories
Winter

Iris unguicularis – the Algerian iris

This beautiful, winter flowering iris used to be called Iris stylosa; sweet sounding and easy to remember. Easy to grow too, just plant it at the base of a dry sunny wall with no added compost, and it will thrive. It seems to love poor stony soil which is no surprise when you look at its natural…

Categories
Winter

Salix fargesii

During periods of hard frost it is not difficult to find stunning subjects to admire as you wander around the garden; every stem, seedhead and leaf is enhanced by the sparkling white dust of  air hoar. The challenging days are when it’s grey and dismal and the light levels are at their lowest. But even…

Categories
Winter

Anisodontea ‘El Royo’

The first anisodontea that I grew was A. capensis, which is less hardy, less showy, smaller in all respects, but very charming nonetheless.  Then I came across A.‘El Royo’, another member of the mallow family, which has much larger, clearer pink flowers, also with dark centres, and it flowers best, most unexpectedly, in autumn and winter. It is a…

Categories
Winter

Clematis cirrhosa

From about the middle of December, the garden takes second place in the order of things; but as soon as the festivities are over I rush outside, keen to see what’s in flower, and to catch up with all our treasures. Planted not far from our back door and therefore always on view to be…

Categories
Autumn

Althaea cannabina

I’m all for transparency, and not just in the late summer or early autumn border!Over the last few weeks I have been looking long and hard at such plantings and have come to the conclusion that relentless clumps of Rudbeckia, Helenium, Eupatorium, Persicaria, Ligularia etc, do not always fit with the average garden plot. Okay…

Categories
Winter

Erysimum ‘Parrish’s’

December can be short on flowers. Early bulbs, sweet scented winter flowering shrubs, and most hellebores come into their own from January onwards; but for this time of the year, my subject today is in a class of its own. I can honestly say that there is hardly a month when it is not in…

Categories
Winter

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…

Categories
Autumn

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…

Categories
Autumn

Dahlia merckii

Now I am not a big fan of dahlias, for me the flowers are too brash and the growth rather ungainly: but here I’ll make an exception. This plant is a species, (and I hope you were paying attention to Laura’s piece and video on plant nomenclature!) so comes true from seed and is a…

Categories
Autumn

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Herbstzauber’

Now I bet you don’t know what a forb is, and nor did I until I sat down to write this piece, and it could be a good one if you play scrabble. It is a herbaceous flowering plant other than a grass. My chosen plant is a pennisetum, and I was reading a small…

Categories
Great Plants this Month Autumn

Vitex agnus-castus var. latifolia

I must start by mentioning the garden where I first saw this month’s plant. A few years ago I took my mother on a little garden-visiting jaunt to South Wales and we came across this gem of a garden nestling in a beautiful and secluded valley with breathtaking views. Tucked into the hillside, it was filled with…

Categories
Summer

Koelreuteria paniculata – Golden Rain Tree

I love propagating all plants, but above all I have a particular fondness for trees that I have raised from seed. So much is invested: the collection, the sowing, the waiting, the watching, the watering. Then by magic, or so it seems, a tiny green shoot appears, and others soon follow. So a few years…

Categories
Summer

Sphaeralcea incana ‘Sourup’

I just love mallows, and can’t understand why they are not more popular; they have so much going for them. As a genus, sphaeralceas are sun loving, mostly hardy and very free flowering from mid-summer through to late autumn. They are undemanding but need well drained soil. We are on clay, so I often add…

Categories
Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa bonica

I’ve known bonica for a long time as I first took notice of it in my mother’s garden many years ago. She grew masses of roses and therefore had that understanding of their ways that can only come from growing them. I remember wondering, when she and my father downsized, how on earth she would…