Day 231: Aralia in flower

We’re entering that part of the year when the strange flowers of members of the aralia family begin to tempt pollinators – most familiar to those of us in the UK being those on our native ivy…

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Day 230: Campsis radicans

Those of us currently considering giving our wisterias the second of their two annual haircuts and wondering why on earth we planted a climber quite so rampant and gutter-threatening* may want to think twice about the trumpet vine, Campsis radicans

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Day 229: enchanter's nightshade

Some weeds – ruderals like chickweed, groundsel and hairy bittercress – are with us all year round. Others are more closely tied to a particular time of year…

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Day 228: Salvia 'Amistad'

Salvia ‘Amistad’ has a kind of regal, takes-no-nonsense air about it – handsome mid-green foliage, tall slender black stems and flowers with petals of the richest royal-purple. It’s a stunner that works well in a mixed border but, to my mind at least, benefits from being given a little room to breathe…

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Day 227: Eryngium agavifolium

There’s never anything soft about a sea holly, but Eryngium agavifolium takes the spine‘O’meter reading up by several notches by mimicking the sharply toothed foliage of many species of agave…

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Day 226: bee balm

The flowers of bee balm (Monarda didyma) always appear to have hurriedly just got out of bed, but the bees and the butterflies don’t seem to mind the slightly dishevelled appearance of this member of the mint family…

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Day 225: Panicum 'Frosted Explosion'

One of those plants that’s as useful in the vase as in the garden, Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’ is aptly named…

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Day 224: waiting for asters

You have to feel a bit sorry for asters. Everyone waits about for the flowers, as if that’s the be-all-and-end-all of the matter, paying scant attention to the rest of the plant – the scaffolding, if you like, for the floral display…

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Day 223: blackberry glut

It was obviously going to be a great year for blackberries. Not because of the rampant incursion of vigorous, thick primocanes (next year’s fruiting stems) into the garden following a wet June and a warm spell in July…

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Day 222: gate latch

The back gate has been desperately in need of a new latch for some time, but I’ve just not found the right thing. I’m feeling fed up with functional and indifferent to decorative – something chunky and honest would fit the bill…

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Day 221: blue torch cactus

This Pilosocereus azureus (variously blue torch, woolly blue spires) seems to be faring quite well, though I’ve only just realised I should have been watering it more than I have been over the summer. Houseplants, you see, are still something of a mystery to me…

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Day 220: echinacea

Echinacea can be a bit of a stinker to get through winter, certainly on heavy clay soils, where I find they’ll cope with cold conditions, but not wet.The answer is to open up the soil by adding organic matter…

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Day 219: Sanguisorba 'Tanna'

There are times of year when minimalism and restraint can be watchwords in the garden, bringing with them a sense of tranquil serenity. I’m not convinced it’s worth striving for this while surrounded by the effervescence of summer…

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Day 218: meadow textures

There’s nothing natural about this meadow-style planting, but the combination so enchanted me when I came across it in the Cottage Garden at Wisley a couple of summers ago that I return repeatedly to this image…

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Day 217: bindweed

Perhaps it’s cruel of me to expect you to start your Monday morning with a weed, but I figured if we could come to terms with bindweed over breakfast, we’d be nicely set up for the week…

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Day 216: cut-and-come-again

Cut-and-come-again is a phrase most often associated with salad crops and leafy vegetables, but I see no reason why it can’t be applied just as well to the kind of plants who like to reward us with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of flowers…

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Day 215: Russian sage

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’) is owning its space in the garden just now. A plant that lurks – not unattractively – for much of the year, tall white stems with pale green, sage-scented leaves…

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Day 214: tiger lily

Just beyond the kitchen door of the house I grew up in, leaning precariously over the path in such a way as to threaten your clothes with their deep orange pollen which nothing could shift, tall dark stems of orange-flowered lilies lolled about each summer…

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Day 213: broken bird bath

It’s been years since this bird bath has actually held any water – I’m sure there must be some kind of resin I can use to fix the crack but, till then, thirsty birds are catered for elsewhere in the garden. In the meantime, it’s the perfect staging post between greenhouse and just about anywhere else…

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Day 212: Persicaria 'Purple Fantasy'

Here’s a fancy knotweed – Persicaria runcinata ‘Purple Fantasy’. I can’t remember quite where I first saw it – perhaps in one of the glorious container displays by the porch at Great Dixter – but I knew it would soon be in my garden…

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