Saturday 24 September 2016

Parting gifts from the Garden Gods ...

As a parting gift from summer, the Garden Gods have given us some clear, golden days so that we can squeeze out the last rays of hot sun. And so we have. From breakfast outside to cold beers in the summerhouse at sunset,  we have wrung out those rays and soaked them right up, so that the memory will help to see us through the leaden grey of November, and the gales of March.

This September light has a mellow quality all of its own, gentle and golden, suffusing the garden and making the plants radiant and glowing.

These glorious days were the ideal time to wander round the garden, to assess the success and otherwise, of this season. I think it probably looks better at this current point than in most other years, due to the long spell of good weather, which has provided ideal growing conditions. The plants have loved it and kept flowering and growing although some of the bedding has already been despatched as it has grown too leggy. Most of the pots are still doing well, however, and providing lots of colour still.

The new decking area planting has really filled out now, and the plants are very happy there. The dahlias and cannas have enjoyed the warmth of this protected area, warmed by the thick stone walls.

There is a ligularia and an astilbe right at the back which are not so happy, as the bed is very well drained, and so a little dry for their liking.

Although many of the garden stars have already played their part and disappeared until next year, many remain, meaning that the garden still has colour and vigour.

This is our first year with Canna 'Cleopatra' and what a showstopper it is ! The flowers are a mixture of red and yellow, some being composed of a single coloured flower and some being a random mix of both.

The foliage is a thing of beauty and has elegant stripes of dark chocolate. If you want muted and tasteful, this exuberant plant is not for you. Ours is over six feet tall, and is no shrinking violet!

The photo above shows Canna 'Cleopatra', alongside banana 'Ensete Maurelli' and Ricinus (grown this spring from seed).

The garden is full of a number of varieties of dahlia, some named and others unknown, as they are our number one garden plant, giving non stop flower power until the first frosts. 

Below is one of the cactus dahlias , grown from seed this season. I love the slightly tousled, wildness of the petals. They grow absolutely massive, and are worth the additional efforts needed to stake them securely.

For me, this season has been my wake up call to Salvias - a wide ranging genus, ranging from hardy to definitely tender, but all bursting with colour. I am very drawn to the tender ones, and have been lucky enough to pick up a few on our visits to other gardens. 

This is Salvia Involucrata 'Boutin', which flowers reliably and heavily from July to November. I assumed it was tender, but Dysons Salvia nursery report that it is hardy to -11 degrees with them. It has an AGM and I have found it to be an exceptional plant. It roots very easily from cuttings, and I have taken lots, all of which have taken.

Below are photos of the most gorgeous Salvias going - the 'Wishes' series. These are tender and need to be overwintered in a greenhouse. They may survive in an unheated one, but I plan to heat ours to a relatively high temperature to protect all our tender plants.

Above is Salvia 'Black Knight', a vigorous grower, and prolific flowerer, with quite a loose habit, common to all the 'Wishes' series.

This is 'Embers Wishes', again a prolific flowerer, not quite as vigorous for me, as 'Black Knight', but still a great plant, and easy to take cuttings from.

This is 'Love and wishes', showing how it likes to spread itself out in a mixed border.

My personal favourite is 'Black and Blue', which has the same intense shade of blue as Salvia Patens, which contrasts so well with the black stems. Not pictured is 'Wendy's Wish', which I believe was one of the first in the series.

The Abutilons have also been a delight, and, as with the salvias, they are so easy to propagate by cuttings, with a very high strike rate. I guess the real disadvantage with Abutilons, for some people, is that the flowers are not as readily visible as many other plants, as the bell shaped blooms hang down, and are often half hidden by foliage. I quite like this quiet modesty, and I will grow them every year from now on.

This glossy, strong red flower is probably my favourite, although there are pinks as well as the reds and yellows, all of varying intensity of shades.

Abutilon 'Milleri Variegatum' has survived, but not thrived, in the garden this season.

I was initially puzzled by this plant, which came into flower a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't identify it, and thought that the nearest match to the flowers was something akin to a hyacinth. However, I came across it by accident on a website, and it is Clematis 'New Love'. Not a climber, this is a shrubby perennial with large leaves, and these lovely scented blue flowers.

The Garden Gods are still smiling and sending some golden days, and each one seems like a gift.