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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…