Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bloomers of the week ....

We smile, the plants that is, despite the weather - and what a week! Beautiful, hot sunshine on Monday much enjoyed by the 1000s who turned out to watch the Tour de France as it passed through Saffron Walden and villages including Finchingfield before heading to the Olympic Park and finishing in the Mall in central London. Wednesday again hot but a cruel, blustery wind, cold, very wet & thoroughly miserable throughout Thursday & Friday finishing with a thunderstorm last evening and torrential rain.
Yet these fellas, photographed yesterday. are determined to give us pleasure...

Monarda in variety
Very hardy North American plants, found throughout the great plains & around the Great Lakes,  giving bold displays of flowers from midsummer into autumn. They prefer a retentive soil to prevent mildew problems, but never really wet. They range in colour from whites such as 'Schneewittchen'  to vibrant purples such as 'Westacre Purple' & have strongly mint scented leaves. . A great 'bee plant' which associates well with other autumn flowering plants such as Heleniums & the large yellow daisies, along with the autumn interest grasses. 'Raspberry Wine' is a favourite due to it being relatively mildew free & a vibrant cerise-raspberry flower.

Eryngium bourgatii 'Picos Blue' & Eryngium planum 'White Glitter'
Sea hollies are an excellent choice for East Anglian gardens, revelling in light, free draining, chalky soils. E.giganteum, frequently refered to as 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' is very popular, albeit biennial, hopefully self seeding. Featured above are two easy to grow, persistent varieties. bourgatii 'Picos Blue' is a wild collected form from the Picos mountains in Northern Spain. Much divided, intensely silver, spiny leaves offset the striking blue flowers. E. planum hybrids are the easiest to grow but less showy. 'White Glitter' featured above is an unusual silver white in a family of mainly blue, unusually breeding true from seed.

Lythrum salicaria in variety
Purple Loosestrife is a familiar native plant, but cultivated forms offer a spectrum of colours from pale pink ('Blush') to vibrant cerise-purple ('Feuerkerze'). Needing a moister soil, they offer colour during late summer & autumn. They even have fantastic rich golden-orange autumn foliage colour. Intolerant of dry soils, they prefer it just on the moist side. Looks good when planted with Lysimachia & Sanguisorba, offering good vertical structure in the border. 

Achillea in variety
Yarrow or milfoil is a familiar native & the bane of those who want a perfect lawn. In it's white form it offers little, but thanks to breeding it is now available in a range of colours from cool creams such as 'Mondpagode' to vibrant cherry-reds like 'Summerwine'. Aromatic mounds of thread like leaves are topped by plate like heads of flowers, often changing colour as they age. For the back of the border there is filipendula 'Gold Plate' with brassy gold flowers, down to the new series of dwarf plants, available in five colours, called the 'Desert Eve' series. 

Phlox paniculata in variety
Native to eastern North America, the species itself is now rarely grown, having been replaced  by many colourful hybrids. They offer a long flowering season from summer into autumn. Unfortunately many as susceptible to eelworm & mildew, especially if your soil is too dry, so plant things in front of it to cover the bare stems. By far the most popular variety is 'Blue Paradise', the closest they have got to a true blue.  However on a warm day, they can appear quite pink! Generally whites such as 'David' & 'Pina Colada' make the best garden plants. A favourite is 'Monica Lynden Bell', sweetly scented & blush pink. The darker colours are often less robust.