Monday, 18 July 2016

Just like the Inflatable boy ...


Just like the Inflatable boy with a pin, some plants have let themselves down badly this year! Every year there are the star performers and then there are those which have disappointed beyond belief. The alchemy of each summer's heady brew of temperature, moisture and sunshine produces different over- achievers every year and, sadly, under achievers too.

I don't want to dwell on the under- achievers, but you know who you are ... hang your heads in shame all those of you in the Amaranthus family, and all of you in the Celosia family too. You have failed to thrive and grow despite being lavished with care and attention. Although you showed early promise, it has never been realised, and if I want to find you in the garden, I need a magnifying glass. Most of you, however, are no longer with us, having been devoured by any number of bugs, and, to be honest, you deserved your fate. You've let yourselves and the the garden down.

Hang your head in shame, too, Pennesetum 'Purple Majesty' ( maize) which looked so great in the seed catalogue, you zinnias with your microscopic flowers and the pathetic Thompson & Morgan Cosmos 'Xanthos'. I always thought Cosmos couldn't go wrong, as it has been so reliable over the years, but I have been proved wrong. This year I have one plant left from all my healthy seedlings in April, and it has grown into a sickly, stunted plant with nondescript, no - colour flowers the size of a button.

But enough of the failures! I want to celebrate those plants which are putting on a death - defying extravaganza of colour, despite what the weather has thrown at them this summer.

Rosa Wollerton Old Hall


The roses got off to a late start after a cold spring, and just as they were getting into their stride, along came frequent heavy downpours, causing many blooms to ball and rot. Whilst some could be saved by gently peeling off the dried outer petals, many could not. However, they have overcome all, and are finally in gorgeous, billowy bloom.


My current favourite is a new rose to me, 'Pomponella', with unusual, almost spherical flowers, of a strong pink. As it is a repeat flowerer, I hope there will be a succession throughout the summer. It looks very healthy so far, and is showing resistance to blackspot and  insect infestation.


Always reliable are the dahlias, and I am growing both old favourites and new varieties this year. I grew 'Victoriana', 'Redskin' and also some Cactus dahlias from seed, but have not seen them flower yet, so they may join the Invisible boy, in his class, if they fail to live up to expectations. I do tend to prefer the dark, rich colours, so the one pictured below is a bit of a disappointment, as it looks very washed out, particularly when the sun is on it.


This new bi-colour certainly smacks you in the face, and brings colour to the new sub-tropical area, as does the un - named dark red one too.



When I went to Chelsea earlier in the year, I bought some Abutilon plug plants, and also found out more about these lovely shrubs. In the intervening weeks they have put a lot of growth on, and have started to flower. The photo below shows Abutilon 'Mayan Magi', which is a lovely soft apricot colour, shot through with red veins. I am hoping to take cuttings a little later in the season, as I would like to try growing some in a sheltered position outside, but don't want to risk losing them.


Not quite as spectacular in flower is Abutilon 'Milleri Variegatum', but it more than makes up for it with  fantastic variegated leaves.




The flowers on all three varieties are not large, but are a very graceful bell shape. Below is Abutilon 'Kentish Belle'. The variegated form is the most tender, but the others can stand a few degrees of frost, and will survive mild winters in a sheltered spot, so I am reliably informed by the nursery owner I bought them from ('T3 Wall End Nursery').



Above is an un-named variety I bought from a nursery, and it has been covered with glossy, almost waxy flowers continually. It is a lovely plant, which I am also hoping to propagate.

Abutilon 'Megapotamicum' looks like little hot air balloons, and it flowers very freely. The shrub is in the greenhouse and is clearly enjoying the temperatures in there.


Last summer we went to Easton Walled Garden, which specialises in sweet peas, and gives the opportunity to see many different varieties growing, and also to purchase the seed. We chose six varieties, and all are doing well, and the flowers are spectacular. The varieties pictured below are 'Our Harry' (lilac), and 'Black Knight' (deep maroon) .


The pink sweet pea below came from seed which I seem to remember, came free with a garden magazine.


Now, we come to the biggest star in the garden this season, Salvia 'Love and wishes', dark and luscious, with fairly loose, lax growth. It's pink and plum colouration make it a good foil for many garden plants, and works well in the border with Acer Palmatum, a dark foliaged Dahlia 'Bishop's Children', and a dark heuchera.






Salvia 'Love and wishes' is in the centre of the photo above. It prefers a sunny position and will grow to about 32 inches in height. It has a long flowering season, if dead headed regularly, and it is hardy to about minus five, so needs protection in very cold weather.


I grew Lychnis (pink and white) from seed a couple of years ago, and it is really fantastic this year. The hot pink flowers and silver grey foliage contrast well with the dark red of Cotinus Coggyggria and the pink of the Sweet Williams (also grown from seed).


So, perhaps it is too early in the season to be evaluating individual performances, but I think I already know the winners and the losers!








21 comments:

  1. Your stalwarts more than make up for your under performers :)

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  2. I tried a new to me salvia this year, Wendy's Wish. It is a rose pink and a prolific bloomer. After it got situated in the garden I haven't had to water it. The hummingbirds love it. I hope it stays with me like the Black and Blue salvia. They are tender perennials here. They sometimes return. It seems I always have a patch of B&B salvia to strew around the garden from a protected place. I rarely have luck with amaranth of any sort, whether it be in a pot or in the ground. I think they have the most interesting blooms. Abutilon is one I reallly like too however it doesn't do well here. It rarely blooms during summer and I have to bring it inside during winter. It begins blooming just as I bring it in and then not for long. Love your roses. I have but a few and they are old varieties. Nothing special. I do have New Dawn that I have moved this year because it was in too much sun. I think it is going to like it's new space. I will have to wait to see for sure. Happy gardening.

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    1. Ah, I have been looking at 'Wendy's Wish' online and thinking how nice it looks! I think 'Love & wishes' is an offspring of it. They are tender here too, so I am going to try to lift them in autumn.
      Abutilon must like our cooler climate as it flowers for a really long time - probably for around 9 months, as it is in the winter and protected from the cold.

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  3. Malingerers not welcome here either Jane! That Salvia is new to my garden this year too, isn't it a cracker. Not a hope in hell of it making it through a winter here but I'll take as many cuttings as I possibly can and treat it just like S. Amistad. I love the pink blooms against the Cotinus foliage, another good foil plant I find.

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    1. You have just solved one of life's little mysteries for me Angie , as I have been wondering if it is possible to take cuttings from S. 'L & w'. Will you give me some tips please ? I absolutely love it.

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  4. I grew Xanthos from seed too. The seedlings that survived the slugs have made fairly decent plants. The flowers are smsller than the pink,and white varieties but not button sized. Having said that the jury is out until later in the year as it certainly isn't as impressive as its cousins.

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    1. That is interesting Sue! The one (!) I have grown hasn't anything like the vigour of other cosmos varieties. I will not be growing it again , and I was so excited to try it too !

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  5. Oh I most disappointed with cosmos 'Xanthos' too Jane. No problems with the size of the plants but the flower colour does not look like its catalogue depictions. I also grew cosmos 'Cranberry Click' for the first time and am most pleased with it. I bought salvia 'Love and Wishes' as a small plant from a plant fair back in April. It has really thrived despite all the wet weather and general lack of sunshine. What's not to love about it apart from its name? Will definitely be taking cuttings :)

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    1. I think there is a bit of a theme starting with 'Xanthos'! So disappointing! I agree completely about the colour as mine is a washed out , pale, greeny yellow - nothing like the photos in the catalogue!

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  6. Hi Jane, A fun post to read, as usual! It's amazing how different a garden behaves from one growing season to another. Your roses are amazing! I will remember about taking the outer petals off of buds that are water damaged....I, too, have pink and white Lychnis. The white has been such a thug that I've pulled out hundreds of seedlings and given away at least a dozen plants and still have more. You can believe that I've dead-headed them this year! Coneflower is very hearty in my zone but, I've found that the cultivars are all underachievers....very disappointing and so tempting to buy them. They are all so beautiful. I finally have a new blog set up....I'm learning to navigate through it.....hating every minute of it, to be honest! Happy Gardening!

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  7. I had to smile (hope you don't mind...) at your failures - we all have them ;)Like amaranthus for me 2 years ago (don't think I am doing anything different now) and cosmos generally till last year. Oh, and most of my scabious and salvia for their second year :( Your Love and Wishes looks lovely and I wish I had one! How does it get on over winter? Have to admit that Xanthos is doing well though, but I am not convinced about the colour either.

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    1. Smile away! As long as you tell me the secret of your success with Amaranthus you can laugh heartily at all my failures !! :-)

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  8. Thanks for sharing the successes and a few of the challenges. I really like that peachy 'Mayan Magi' Abutilon ... and your Sweet Peas ... and your Salvias. Lovely, lovely.

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    1. 'Mayan Magic' is very special and I love the colour. I am just beginning to appreciate the joys of salvias ... why has it taken me so long ??

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  9. Some times the simplest plants such as the Lychnis and Sweet William can be the most rewarding to grow.

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    1. I agree! I am getting to appreciate the reliable members of the plant family as I get older!

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  10. A lovely post!! I lost a lot of plants this winter. In Holland no frost but I think I have to teach my plants how to swim because we had a not normal very wet wintertime. I lost all my Geranium's. But other plants are suprising me in the positive way.
    Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Every season is so unique and I guess we have winners and losers every year! I think my plants need to learn backstroke too as we have had so much rain through June - just about every day . The ligularias and Rodgersias are very happy though!

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  11. Love the Lychnis. I am struggling to find plants that 'show up' on the bank here. That should do the trick!

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  12. Colourful post Jane, maybe not so strangely your list of non-performers is very similar to mine, obviously down to the weather. I have had good success with hybrid Abutilons grown from seed this year, I have grown them before and find them very reliable. Although the plants can be kept over winter, as they flower so readily from seed in the first year, it hardly seems worth it.

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