At 10.30 this morning 29 members of the West Yorkshire Hardy Plant Society (HPS) filed down the side of our house and into the garden; an hour and 101 questions later they were gone, on their way to Devon for a garden visiting trip, leaving us reeling from the whirlwind that had just passed through…but more on that another time.
I had recovered enough by early afternoon to indulge in a bit of gentle pottering, enjoying the warmth and sunshine that had been absent earlier, continuing with the endless process of deadheading and considering my options for Six on Saturday, the meme kindly hosted by Jon the Propagator. This week my six are very varied although generally new or different in some way. Above is the special snowdrop border in its new summer guise, nominally although not yet very successfully a ‘rainbow border’.
For some years I have continued the white and green winter theme by adding white bedding plants in the summer, albeit with very little success. It took a conversation on this blog to consider a change of tactic – and after all, there was no real merit in continuing the white theme when the adjacent area was full of varied shades in the summer. I didn’t want to have to stake or net the annuals, so chose varieties that grew no taller than 18″ (45cm) but will need to reassess the content next year, as the orange pot marigolds are currently dominating their little rainbow world. Admittedly the red content (alonsoa) is now in bud, but the yellow helichrysum has underperformed and the blue and violet of limonium are not yet making much impact…but it will get better, and at least the principle works.
My gentle pottering took in admiring glances at one of my now favourite salvia, Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’, with such tactile furry leaves and such a good do-er, and making a solid impact in a border; I have taken cuttings (and sold plants from some of these) and also collected and successfully sown seed, and now have 3 plants in different places plus a 2020 acquisition of S verticallata ‘Hannay’s Blue’, which is a slightly different colour, although not blue.
Another fairly recent and equally tactile favourite is Trifolium rubens (ornamental clover) which I have also grown from seed, although this is my original plant. The blooms are gloriously furry and colour up gradually, giving a pleasing graduated effect. I also have the white version Trifolium ochroleucum.
Both these last two are in the main borders, which you can see are burgeoning with leaf and flower, amidst which abundance I today discovered a penstemon in bud: not an uncommon occurrence for some, but for me getting a penstemon to survive and rebloom is like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack. I have clearly struck lucky in the haystack this year and the very welcome penstemon is P ‘Pensham Czar’:
And blow me down, in the same borders I also have an achillea coming into bloom, a blue moon event indeed! I can’t find a label (perhaps I didn’t expect it to last very long) but I think it may be ‘Lilac Beauty’:
And finally, something else I have rarely seen, the blooms of stinking iris, Iris foetidissima, in the woodland edge border. The original plant has been there since the border was created nearly 20 years ago, but in recent years it and its progeny must have been overshadowed by adjacent growth – although because seedpods were produced I knew flowering had taken place. The border has been thinned out in parts recently and the oak tree of the original planting removed, so growing conditions will have changed. Welcome back Iris!