Growbag Blog

The Growbags September pick-me-ups


Still slightly reeling from a trip north of the border to Caroline and her fun-loving Highland friends – just how many parties can you fit into three days? I definitely needed a restorative perambulation round my own garden this morning which revealed some plants which, unlike me, seemed to be peaking right now, and provided just the tonic I needed:

Amaryllis belladonna – a proper Bond girl, pretty AND deadly.

Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, is a bit of a marmite plant but I love marmite so I was delighted to come home to find the glistening purple-black berries on this classy architectural weed (our feature picture above). It pops up in the most unexpected places but then really owns that space – respect.

Amaryllis belladonna, which was leafy earlier in the summer then went very quiet, has now thrown up the most amazing sugar pink flowers with an alluring silky smooth vanilla scent. It’s deadly poisonous, so properly dramatic.

‘Hadrian’s Midnight’ as good as a dahlia gets.

Dahlia ‘Hadrian’s Midnight’. My dahlias have been late on parade this summer but an inch of rain has pepped them up no end and this variety is about as good as a dahlia gets in my book.

Sedum ‘Red Cauli’ – whoops no, it’s changed its name hasn’t it? Luckily it’s Louise’s plant of the moment and she can explain more. 

Restored by my garden tour I reflected that it might have been more restful to have spent  a few days with Elaine in her dreamy Normandy chateau than try to keep up with the Celtic fringe, but then I heard that Elaine’s most recent house guests had been made to spend the Bank Holiday weekend erecting her new socking great greenhouse…


Well what IS the point of one’s daughter getting married into a family of structural engineers if you can’t put them to work?

The only quid pro quo for all this greenhouse-building was me spending a lot of time wandering through the garden trying to persuade a wide-eyed three-month old grandson to sleep. Stanley was frankly pretty rubbish at the Latin names, but showed a mild interest in flowery things, such as Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ which greets September with glorious sheaves of yellow-eyed mauve flowers. The clumps grow to about a metre tall and the flowers teem with insects on sunny days.

Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ – an asset for humans and insects!

I was keen to point out to my little semi-bald friend that many ornamental grasses don’t truly show their mettle until September and pheasant’s tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana) is one such.  Its very slim dark-green leaves have been building through the summer, and are now starting to turn gold, copper and bronze with arching pink gossamer flowers which waft above it like tiny rosy raindrops.

Pheasant’s tail grass comes into its own right now

I’ll be honest, Stanley was looking pretty bored by now, and I doubt if he fully appreciated the glorious re-flowering of my Chelsea rose ‘Champagne Moment’.  As his eyelids at last drooped, I thanked the garden for yet another service to mankind, and handed Stan the Man back to his grateful mother.  Then glowing with job-satisfaction, I sauntered over to give an hour’s worth of helpful advice to the construction-workers, I’m sure they appreciated it..

Celebrating the ‘Champagne Moment’ when the baby goes to sleep.


I’m not surprised little Stanley dropped off . He wouldn’t be the first to sleep through one of Elaine’s Latin lessons. And those insipid nodding grasses and pale roses sound a little dull for me. Personally I’m still up for a bit of action, a bit of pizzazz (as Laura discovered here last weekend when she had to stay up beyond 9pm, forego her Horlicks and actually join in with some fun for a change).

No, Autumn is when the garden wholly responds to my love of bright orange. Scotland’s intensifying default to grey at this time of year makes Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ a pretty mandatory feature in my garden. I grow them intentionally beside a dark Physocarpus and accidentally beside some blue asters – the whole arrangement makes me look quite the international garden designer.

An autumn garden ‘must-have’ – Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’

So, for a good autumnal orange fix – Crocosmia – good; nasturtiums – wonderful; Achillea – excellent. But then I have a problem. Fellow orange fetishists will appreciate the issues I have with my Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’ – they’re not even ‘slightly’ let alone ‘totally’ tangerine, they’re a rather feeble pink and yellow combo. If Mother Nature was Dulux, she’d be getting a letter.

Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’ – or not in my opinion

Without doubt my most outstanding performers right now  are my fantastically, wonderfully orange sunflowers which are looking the best they’ve looked all summer – freebie from a magazinus if you want the Latin name.

Yup that’s the one – my free sunflowers!

More NB If you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

6 replies on “The Growbags September pick-me-ups”

Thank you, Irene. We are always so pleased when people like reading the column that we so much like writing! September has started with calm, lovely weather in this corner of Normandy – long may it continue! Elaine

We are on the Cotentin Peninsula, not far from Carteret. Not a very well-known part of France but it suits us very well.

Angelica gigas , hmmm not sure of a plural here… – stunning and bee covered now, next to what appears to be a giant Tithonia (annual-may be too cold up there to plant before June, Caroline) but brilliant velvety orange adding a load of colour in my garden just now…..

Frances, Caroline here, what a brilliant idea to grow tithonias. I saw them for the Forrest time at Broadwoodside in East Lothian (Laura was with me and knew exactly what they were of course) I was bowled over by them but you’re right, I think, like zinnias, they need a lot of sun? Had I known what a scorcher we were going to have in scotland this year, I’d have given them a go! Lovely to hear from you xx

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