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Great Plants this Month Summer

Phytolacca americana

American pokeweed Is this a ‘Marmite’ plant? I mention it, because as a child I remember my parents having heated discussions about its contribution to the garden scene. My mother was not a fan, and after my father died, I did notice that the American pokeweed mysteriously disappeared one day: but it came back in the form of a self-sown ghost, to…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Limonium gmelinii subsp. hungaricum

Hungarian sea-lavender I am on the north Cornish coast this week, and walking along the cliff tops this morning, my eye was caught by a tiny rock sea-lavender growing in the most inhospitable location imaginable: facing the wild Atlantic Ocean with all its accompanying salt winds and spray, it was growing in a crevice in the slate. Then I thought of our own sea lavenders at home. Unlike Monty…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Verbascum roripifolium

Earlier this week, dodging the unrelenting rain showers, an intrepid group of plant and garden enthusiasts from the Sussex Hardy Plant Society came to visit: first to Laura’s garden and then ours in the afternoon. I had already been impressed by this beautiful mullein, so taking a cue from the exclamations of delight from our visitors, decided to make it my plant of the moment, the people’s choice! I raised…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Papaver somniferum

opium poppy The profusion of flowers and abundance of lush foliage in our midsummer garden has never been greater than this year. It could be something to do with its maturity, but I’m sure that weeks of rain have been the main factor. So, as I wandered round, marvelling at the floral bounty, and wondering which plant I might choose to write…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Kniphofia ‘Sunningdale Yellow’ AGM

Red-hot poker ‘Sunningdale Yellow’ It seems to me that June has never been as floriferous and exuberant as this one just past, and although we could probably all have done with a little more sun, the recent rainfall has just added to the lushness of it all. Gentle constant rain, not plant flattening torrents!  And in amongst the wild…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’ AGM

I have often thought that if I was only allowed a single rose on my desert island, this is the one that I would choose above all others: its ethereal beauty simply cannot be matched. This slender China rose blends seamlessly with perennials in a mixed border, it is perfectly hardy but probably gives of its best in a sheltered…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Clematis ‘Vyvyan Pennell’

Clematis ‘Vyvyan Pennell’ was raised by Walter Pennell of Pennell and Sons nursery in the mid-fifties and was named after his wife. Pennells was founded in 1780 and is still in the ownership of the same family – quite a record!  So, Walter Pennell not only raised one of my favourite clematis, (which incidentally is probably the best known of all the…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Peaks and troughs

When our old Belfast sink finally became too chipped and stained for kitchen use, out it went by the back door, and my ever-resourceful husband had it turned into a vintage garden trough in no time. No sink, trough or container specifically dedicated to growing alpines, sempervivums and other succulents is by any means low maintenance; this is probably because one has to use such a gritty, free-draining potting…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Datisca cannabina – Cretan hemp*

If plants were twinned with characters from books, there is little doubt that Datisca cannabina would be paired up with Roald Dahl’s BFG. My Great Plant this Month is truly a gentle giant of a plant. This clump-forming, herbaceous perennial, to 2m or more in height, is almost as wide as it is high; however, this…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Lepechinia hastata – pakaha

Plants grown in containers are really starting to come into their own in the heat of summer, and there is one in particular which I would hate to be without.  Belonging to the same family as salvias (lamiaceae), my subject today certainly does bear close resemblance to many of the sages and I am often…

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Gardening Tips Summer

Clematis ‘Venosa Violacea’ AGM

It all began on a very windy day in February when I noticed that our aged Chimonanthus praecox was being blown sideways under the weight of a winter flowering clematis and a honeysuckle. So, I did a bit of emergency topping there and then and made a note to finish off the job in the spring when the clematis had finished…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Pontederia cordata AGM – pickerel weed

In our garden, our beautiful pool was designed and built by Rob, my husband, so fair enough, he now has jurisdiction over its planting (although I still do the weeding around it!). I therefore look and admire, and when something really catches my eye, I ask for its name and find out more. This pontederia is a very showy perennial plant from North America: a marginal aquatic that is hardy…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Salvia verticillata ‘Hannay’s Blue’

There was a time when the only sage I grew in my garden was the culinary herb, Salvia officinalis; but today I ask myself, where would we be without the rest of them? It is a huge genus and they are very varied in colour and habit, many are hardy and very long flowering, others less hardy but all are huge favourites in…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa ‘Dortmund’ AGM

I make no apology for choosing another rose this week, we are in June after all, and this amazing climber is such a winner, I just couldn’t ignore it.  Many years ago, we first saw ‘Dortmund’ growing on a wall of ‘The Garden House’ in Devon and as I remember it was the only rose on sale in the nursery at the time. This, in itself, was…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Coleton Fishacre’

Late summer in our garden – and predominant in the beds are shades of purple, lavender, blue and pink; the hot colours of the autumn garden have yet to get into their stride. So, my subject today is the perfect antidote to fit into this misty mix. Neither yellow, nor rust, nor ochre, it is…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Lythrum salicaria ‘Zigeunerblut’ – Purple loosestrife ‘Gypsy blood’

Given the heavy rain showers that we’ve had recently, and the very strong winds, I’m confident that when it is all over, there will be one plant that comes through it all unscathed. It may just be a form of our common native purple loosestrife, but it is one that can withstand any weather and…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Digitalis ferruginea AGM – ‘Rusty foxglove’

This foxglove is a jewel! I know I’m on to a winner when each time I pass a plant I find myself stopping and staring at the wonder of it, and my selection this week is no exception. It is also an absolute magnet for every passing bee which just adds to the interest. The…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Clematis viticella ‘Étoile Violette’ AGM

I made a happy accidental choice when I planted ‘Étoile Violette’ at the foot of our Amelanchier lamarckii: at the time, I hadn’t realised that for many reasons it was the perfect clematis for growing in a large shrub or small tree. Now, our snowy mespilus never looks dull, but there are certain shrubs that, however…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’ Climbing

There are so many beautiful roses out right now, so how on earth do I choose just one? No rose is perfect, and my favourite today shares certain less attractive traits with many others. Let’s face it, few roses look their best after a downpour and this one is no exception, it really sulks after…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Geranium sylvaticum ‘Album’ AGM. White, wood cranesbill

There are well over 400 species in the genus geranium, and so when it comes to choosing one for that precious spot in your garden, it pays to do a little research, and above all, be selective. It is oh so easy to be seduced by the one that happens to be in flower as…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Hylotelephium ‘Red Cauli’ A.G.M.

(Previously … Sedum ‘Red Cauli’!) Just to confuse us further, not all sedums are re-named Hylotelephium, just some of them. Seen above with Diascia personata, my star plant this week is the amazing stone crop ‘Red Cauli’: it is one of those plants that just sings at this time of the year.  Interestingly neither of these two…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Carex testacea – New Zealand hair sedge

Like a constant friend who goes way back, so does my plant this week. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, always there in a pot outside the front door, giving me pleasure each time I pass, and it’s also a terrific foil to other plants. Evergreen and seemingly never having an…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Eryngium planum

This is the perfect summer for Eryngium planum, and the difference between last year’s performance and this, is marked. Last year 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…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

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…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Aeonium arboreum

Watering can be an industry in itself at this time of the year. During my increasingly frenetic morning and evening activity with the watering can, I throw my Aeonium arboreum grateful and admiring glances in equal measure as I rush past, making a mental note to water it in a few days time! With their bold, architectural…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’

There is a faint lull in our garden in the middle of June, many summer flowering plants are poised for the next act, but right now Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ is the show-stopper. It has been flowering for several weeks already and will continue to do so for many more to come … and it is…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’ AGM

Laura knows a good rose when she sees one! A few years ago she spotted a neglected specimen which was just about surviving near an aircraft hangar at Shoreham airport. It was autumn, the perfect time to take rose cuttings, and they thrived. She gave one to me and we all called it Rosa ‘Shoreham…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Clematis ‘Black Tea’

If I wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep, I take a mental tour of the garden; and as it’s May I start by counting clematis. I get as far as C ‘Black Tea’ … beyond shadow of a doubt, it’s this week’s star plant and can only be described as ‘sumptuous’.…

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Summer

Artemisia lactiflora ‘Elfenbein’

I say the word ‘artemisia’, and immediately springs to my mind the many silver-leaved forms that I already have in our garden. These are abrotanum, ludoviciana, absinthium, and pontica to name but a few, and the family also includes A dracunculus (French tarragon). Often aromatic, and with finely divided, decorative foliage, they are a useful…

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Summer

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. If you search for it online you will immediately spot discrepancies in the name, (and why on earth would the pope need a crèche?!)…

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Summer

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Erica’

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.…

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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…