I 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:
Other 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:
Not 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:
Only 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:
It 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!