Vital

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 treasures including many salvias and other Mediterranean plants. I saw their vitex in full flower and fell for it. Vitex is a magnet for bees, butterflies and other insects and bears upright sprays of fragrant, lavender blue flowers from July, August or September...

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Salvia uglinosa

September signals sisterly division

Optimists can brand September ‘late summer’ all they like, but the autumnal cast of rose hips, fallen leaves and late afternoon port drinking are definitely beginning to take the stage here in Scotland. With a sigh of relief you can confirm you won’t actually ever get around to making jam with the plums and offload your over-sized marrows and squashes to the nearest Harvest Festival. It’s not fashionable to acknowledge that although we’re apparently only nine denied meals away from anarchy, overproduction in your veg plot can pose a problem. Eight months after germinating on a radiator, our tomato plants have stoically overcome frostbite, negligence...

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vitis

Still time for stand-out climbers to shine in September

How are your walls looking at the moment?  And your fences, and arbors, and pergolas and gazebos?  Are they languishing under a dismal-looking leaf canopy of May-flowering montana or June-flowering rambler roses, or, worse still, bare? Well they needn’t be – there are things you can do to remedy this sorry state of affairs, and the first word that springs to mind is …clematis. Most of the large-flowered types are looking very tired by the middle of August, though there is one called ‘Lady Betty Balfour’ – this redoubtable lady claims to flower well into November (much like myself), if...

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Koelireuteria Paniculata - Golden Rain Tree

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 ago I was walking through the Cambridgeshire village of Hemingford Grey with my sister, when we stopped in our tracks to admire a beautiful ‘Golden Rain Tree’ in the churchyard. Instantly I made a mental note to ask Fran to return in a few...

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