Sunday, 20 July 2014

Some like it hot..

High summer and the herbaceous beds and borders are erupting into a riot of hot colours. Mind you following the intense heat of the last week, when temperatures peaked at 31c in the shade on Friday, we were not far off being the same! It's so encouraging to see many of our customers no longer afraid to use these bold palettes in their gardens rather than relying on the safety of the 'blues, pinks and greys'. Even if not buying the cameras are clicking away at some of our bolder displays and plantings around the nursery - so maybe next year? Hope you enjoy the following selection to brighten your day.
Crocosmia in variety
A family still struggling to breakaway from the dreaded Montbretia your grandmother used to grow, with it's  rapidly spreading fans of sword like leaves, all rather floppy & some sparse orange flowers. Modern breeding has meant that these cormous South African bulbs now have refined leaves & impressive heads of tubular flowers, over a long period through late summer. The best garden plants are the oranges & reds, the most popular in the UK being 'Lucifer' with it's blood red flowers & broad, pleated leaves. 'Hellfire' is a sinister blood red & 'Saracen' has tricoloured red, orange & yellow flowers, offset by dusky brown leaves. Yellows are popular, by far the most impressive is 'Pauls Best Yellow' with huge golden-yellow flowers. 'Buttercup' & 'Honey Angels' are paler yellow but can be a little prone to rust, so need good living. 
We recommend the Twilight series for modern gardens, they are small & neat, making them ideal for the rockery. 'Twilight Fairy Crimson' & 'Twilight Fairy Gold' are sure to become modern classics.

Constant summer colour in a container
The above pot is based on the hot garden at Hidcote where hot colours & purple leaves create a colourful riot, particularly vibrant from autumn to the frosts. This pot is a mixture of perennial plants which can be kept from year to year, along with some tender perennials which can be overwintered frost free. 
The recipe is as follows.
1. A grass Uncinia rubra 'Belinda's Find' with coppery evergreen leaves, variegated orange & pink.
2. Heuchera 'Black Tafetta'...A new hybrid from America with large, purple-brown, crisped leaves.
3. Begonia boliviensis. Tall tender Begonia with hanging vibrant orange flowers. Overwinter frost free.
4. Begonia 'Illumination' series A glowing orange & red tuberous rooted Begonia. Overwinter tubers frost free. 
5. Gazania.   South African daisies in glowing colours. Half hardy, only opening in sun.

Kniphofia in variety
Big, bold South African evergreen perennials forming substantial clumps of channeled, sword like leaves. They can flower from May with varieties like 'Early Buttercup' with the last being 'November Cheer' which we can guarantee will be in flower on Christmas day. Of the traditional varieties, 'Little Maid'; is popular with it's soft cream flowers, a little charmer. Featured above is an award of garden merit plant, not widely available. 'Penny Rockets' (AGM) is 1.2mtrs with fine, grassy leaves. The acid yellow variety at the back is 'Vesta', another strangely neglected variety.

Mixed Coreopsis
Coreopsis are easily grown, midsummer flowering daisies, undeservedly unpopular because of their brassy yellow flowers. However recent breeding in America has introduced a wide range of colours & form, previously unavailable. Darrel Probst has hybridised tinctoria, a red annual with C.verticillata, a yellow perennial to give a wide range of colours, many pictured above. The parent C.verticillata 'Grandiflora' is in the foreground. Beyond it are the following
1. The dark crimson is C.rosea 'Limerock Ruby'
2. The dark-red, streaked yellow is 'Route 66'
3.The rusty pink at the back is rosea 'Limerock Dream'

Echinacea - just a small selection of our huge range
Currently en-vogue, we have a huge range in stock now, bursting with colour. They vary from white, yellow, orange, pink & purple in both single & anemone forms. Featured above is 'Tiki Torch', a seriously hot glowing orange with 'Summer Dream', possibly the most vibrant cerise-pink bred to date, at the back.
We will be offering a comprehensive blog  on them shortly. 

Lilium henryii (orange) and Lilium leichtlinii
Species lilies are sadly neglected. They offer great height in the border & are not so prone to lily beetle.
L.henryi is an easy to grow Chinese species with reflexed orange flowers on heavily branched black stems. Our plants are 2mtrs tall in a restrictive pot.
L.leichtlinii is of similar height with reflexed, glowing golden orange flowers, heavily speckled black.
Both are easy in sun or shade & don't need staking.

Bold colours in our herbaceous border
Our front garden is now a riot of colour. The vibrant Monarda 'Raspberry Wine' at the back thrives even in this dry border with no mildew problems whatsoever. In the foreground are the blood red, wispy spikes of Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail', Geranium 'Rozanne' & Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker', a lovely contrast with the lemon-yellow flowers & brown leaves.
The Verbascum is a speciality here. Originally raised from wild collected seed, this soundly perennial species is called pyramidatum. It forms a 2mtr spikes composed of lots of small sub-spikes which form the crown. It flower all summer to frosts. It should certainly be more widely grown. 

Hemerocallis 'Christmas Is'
Despite being the number one perennial in the United States. They are so easy to grow in the garden & offer a wide colour range, but British gardeners just don't seem to want to grow them. A shame really, as they offer great colour during midsummer when there is a lull in colour. Above is 'Christmas Is', a really rich scarlet-red with yellow guidelines. There are even good whites for those who prefer something cooler. A favourite is 'Iron Gate Glacier' the first into flower & last to finish, with a subtle hint of green on it's creamy white trumpets.

A 'hot', pot grown selection
 A mixed grouping of tender perennials featuring Fuchsia 'Thalia' with it's long, drooping, narrow, soft orange flowers & purple flushed leaves. This is set among tuberous Begonias & Gazanias.

Another of Kevin's artistic masterpieces
This distinctly old, weathered Whichford pot is filled with a combination of the following.
1. Dryopteris affinis. Ferns are very underused in pots, doing well even in sun. many are evergreen.
2. Heuchera 'Cherry Cola. A small, neat form with scallop-shaped, soft reddish-gold leaves, turning blood red in winter. Short spikes of rusty, golden-red flowers are showier than most.
3. In the centre is our favourite Sedum 'Jose Aubergine'. Worth having for the name alone, this has crimson flowers over the vibrant, glaucous flushed, purple leaves. 
4. Lysimachia nummularia, a creeping perennial for moist spots spills out of the side. It's vibrant gold leaves offset the cup-shaped yellow flowers. 
Also in the pot are a tuberous begonia & the Coreopsis 'Golden Pompom', a particularly free flowering miniature, which has been continuously in flower from April, with buds still aplenty.