So what’s new this week? Well, quite a bit actually. Now that we have had some welcome rain and it has cooled down a bit, the plants are enjoying better conditions and putting on a fantastic show. These Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’ are not everybody’s favourite colour but they are certainly eye-catching and prolific. Just seven plants have produced hundreds of tall stems each topped with 8 – 10 flowers. They are in a raised bed of well drained soil with added compost and organic fertilizer. The flowers last 2 weeks in a vase.
The Echinaceas in the front border are in full flower now and covered in bees and butterflies all day; a wonderful sight and sound given their current decline. The hybrids I grew last year did not survive the winter so it was just the purpurea and a few ‘White Swan’ that continue to be hardy and reliable here. They are so easy to raise from seed I wonder why more people don’t grow them.
All the books say don’t use supermarket garlic because it has been chilled and won’t produce good bulbs. Nonsense! I grow them every year and never have a problem. They might be a little smaller but always come up, regardless of the variety. I have just lifted, washed and dried this year’s crop which look good to me. One bulb produced 10 cloves which produced 10 plants and probably 100 cloves, and all for 30p! Some are for the kitchen but the rest get stored and used for making garlic wash to keep snails off the Hostas.
The Shasta daisies are out and as usual, the tall ‘common’ white form are everywhere. But this year I decided to branch out and grow a couple of yellow varieties. They do so well in my clay soil that I thought they would make a nice change. ‘This is Banana Cream’ and not far behind is ‘Broadway Lights’ which is a darker yellow.
The climbing foxglove, Lophospermum erubescens has reached the top of its obelisk and is heading for the bungalow roof. Three metres high is not unusual and the continuous display of pink flowers makes this plant very striking. It produces lots of seeds which store well and are easy to germinate in spring. This is last years ‘mother’ plant which overwintered in Paddy’s heated greenhouse but the plants I grew this year and gave away to friends are just as prolific.
This years newcomer is the climbing snapdragon, Maurandella antirrhiniflora, which is a little more dainty than the Lophospermum but just as beautiful. This one is a twining climber whereas the Lophospermum climbs by wrapping individual leaf stalks around a support. A very attractive dark blue fading to white in the throat.
The Rudbeckia laciniata is now 150cm tall with 10 flowers and a lot more to come from the many emerging side shoots. It has an ethereal quality, it’s tall wiry stems waving above most other plants in the border and light yellow swept back flower petals are thin and separated with a bright green prominent cone. I look forward to seeing it again bigger and better next year.
The Redcurrants and Gooseberries have been wonderful this year and Cathy has been busy making jam, cooking and freezing the surplus fruit. The Blackcurrants were not so good this year and I am wondering if I pruned out the right stems. I will have to read up about it and try again. It looks my pruning and thinning of the apple tree was better because the fruit is swelling and ripening nicely.
Even though I have grown nearly everything in my garden from seed or cuttings, I still forget what and where everything is. It’s nice to get surprises now and again and today,hidden in the back of a border amongst the tall Physostegia stems I discovered this little beauty.
Finally, a success story. Some readers may recall that I discovered a couple of fuchsias buried in the compost heap that were showing new shoots. I rescued them and planted them up and here they are! No worse for wear and twice as beautiful as last year. Now I’m not sure whether to throw them away again or try to overwinter them!