Seasonal Stalwarts, Some Surprising

img_8416I suppose some form of informal assessment has been taking place throughout the season, but as much of the garden begins to wind down the stalwarts have suddenly become more conspicuous – stalwarts like these pots of pelargonium which must be in their third or fourth year. Always in view from the kitchen windows the 5 pots used to have polyanthus underplanted with tulips, but the polyanthus always suffered from damage by birds so they were replanted them with the pelargonium this year. Having only 3 plants, I took some scruffy divisions from them and shoved them in the other two pots where they quickly became plants the size of their parents. The plants will be lifted and brought into the greenhouse in due course and replaced in the pots sometime in May when they will probably have started flowering, as they did last year – that will be 6 months of blooms.

Grown from seed and completely new to me this year are these Alonsoa, which have been flowering since the end of June. The seeds were only bought because I had to buy something to get the thing I wanted for ‘free’ and I couldn’t find any other seeds that appealed – these seemed bright enough and although grown in the cutting beds this year they would be better in a border in a clump or spread through it and their longevity has earned them a place in the garden for next year.


I am also now a big fan of  growing dahlias from seed – this year I have grown both ‘Figaro’ and ‘Dandy’ varieties and although it has been fun seeing what colours emerge I shall try and buy seeds in a more specific colour range for next year as this year there has been a preponderance of yellows. This year’s crop will be lifted and overwintered, and some colours planted in the borders next year and some potted for sale on the open garden days. They were so easy to grow from seed and have been in flower since the end of June – like their taller cousins they are on tenterhooks waiting for the first frosts too but are still hanging on:

img_8421Other easily grown seed sown stalwarts are Antirrhinum ‘Twinny White’, still the best of the colours I have tried, and Osteosperum ‘Sky and Ice’ which although taller than expected is such a striking colour, both of which have been flowering from early June:


Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ is still hanging on and will have a place in a border as well as the cutting beds next year, whilst Sunflower ‘Italian White’ is also still producing blooms, both having begun flowering in mid July:

stalwarts-2Not seed sown but still only a very young plant at the start of the year, Salvia ‘Neon’ has proved a delight with its endless neon pink blooms and powerfully scented foliage. The only salvia I have managed to keep from one year to another so far, I am still not risking its hardiness and have taken lots of cuttings just in case:

img_8420Only just on the wane is Persicaria ‘Fat Domino’, a new plant in a 10cm pot last autumn, it has now earned a place in my book of stalwarts with its endless chunky bottle brush flowers gracing the shrub border since early August. In the same border Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’ has turned a corner since it was moved and has tantalised me with numerous subtle spikes of tiny flowers for a similar length of time, an added bonus to the variegated foliage:

img_8426img_8427It can’t be coincidence that the final stalwart I am including is my old favourite Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’, star of the woodland edge border, its progeny spread amongst blogging friends far and wide. It will die an unseemly death in a few weeks but rise like a phoenix in the early spring and thrill me with its foliage for yet another lengthy season. I smile when I read descriptions of its habit in plant catalogues (height 90cm, spread 60cm), but I think he is just exceptionally at home here as he sprawls languidly over an area of 3-4 metres, a spread which would not be matched in every situation. A stalwart of stalwarts indeed!







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20 Responses to Seasonal Stalwarts, Some Surprising

  1. Anna says:

    The stalwarts certainly earn their keep Cathy especially when they shine year after year. Persicaria ‘Fat Domino’ is on my wish list after being impressed just how long ‘Firetail’ flowers for. Your ‘Red Dragon’ has obviously not read the books. What a star!

  2. Debra says:

    Your garden stalwarts are so impressive, Cathy. I’m so impressed with how many you grow from seed. Your patience in the garden definitely pays off!

  3. Raising plants from seed is such fun and you are a doyenne of raising flowering perennials. Saw a fab -new to me – red Persicaria Dikke Floskes (‘Dust Balls’) at The Plant Specialist Nursery recently, such incredibly long flowering spikes.

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, I still feel a novice on the perennial plants from seed front. I have just Googled Persicaria DF – it certainly looks striking too

  4. rusty duck says:

    Persicarias are my no. 1 stalwarts without a doubt. They love my rain, clay soil and nothing eats them. I’ll have a garden full before I’m out.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, at the moment there is nothing not to like about them – they have certainly not been invasive here. I bought about half a dozen different ones this time last year but apart from Fats Domino they haven’t been featured on the blog as they haven’t settled in as well yet

  5. Pauline says:

    Hope you got your pelagoniums in before last nights frost, it would be such a shame to lose them, they are so beautiful.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Pauline – and you have prompted me to bring them and other vulnerables inside, just in case, as there has been a slight touch of frost already. Thanks 🙂

  6. Christina says:

    As you introduced the post by saying that it is now you are aware of the stalwarts I have to agree with you. Sometimes a plant dies so well, so consistently that we seem not to notice ; well done for highlighting the plants that truly earn their place in the garden.

  7. I do love your persicarias, but sadly, they are invasive here. The pelargoniums are fabulous too, and six months of color…!

  8. Adore those pelargoniums. What a colour. And very excited to have my little cutting of ‘Red Dragon’ safe and sound in the cold-frame!

    • Cathy says:

      They responded to a light trim only a few weeks ago and have been more floriferous than early in the season. Seems a shame to tuck them away inside the sitooterie now, as I have done today, but better safe than sorry. I suppose my Dragon started as a very small plant too, so yours will no doubt catch up in the future!

  9. Brian Skeys says:

    The frost has arrived here, all the tender plants are now packed away in the greenhouse Cathy. Your pelargoniums look a lovely dark red, are they Lord Bute?

    • Cathy says:

      The frost on Monday night has seen off my dahlias, Brian, but fortunately I had brought the pelargoniums and other less hardy things inside earlier in the day. I don’t think the pelargoniums were named when I bought them, and as they were originally bought for a seasonal filler I wasn’t concerned with buying a named variety. I think they must have survived the first mild winter and I decided they were pretty enough to hang onto, but I do bring them inside now to make sure they do keep going. I will look up Lord Bute and see if they match his description – thank you

  10. tonytomeo says:

    Dahlias from seed? I have seen the seed available, but never knew of anyone trying them. They are so prolific! I get too many from neighbors to try to grow my own. They bloom late here. This should be an ideal climate for them, since it is warm in spring, but they wait until the middle of summer to bloom. By that time, the big types are so tall that the flowers are above view, and they need to be staked. My colleague down south calls them dago sunflowers!

    • Cathy says:

      They are very easy to grow from seed, Tony, and will flower in their first year but build up into bigger tubers for future years. Often people will grow them from seed as annual fillers – there are many smaller varieties used as bedding plants

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