In today’s blog I will briefly touch on the weather, cheer you up with some garden photos, give you tips on prolonging your garden’s good looks and suggestions for plants to use for this.
Sedum, lavender, sisyrinchium and stipa gigantea flourishing
I have nothing to say. It’s boring and relentless and I am sick to my dwindling top teeth of moaning about it… so, in a cup half full (or actually overflowing) sort of approach, the continual onslaught of rain has been jolly good for our shrubs, trees and perennials. They are loving it. After a pretty dry couple of years, I have observed these plants lapping it up. Everything has shot up to its full height and more. This season, I’ve seen Delphiniums as tall as me (just under six foot). Last year they were more like four and a half feet tall. The rain can damage this growth, weighing it down and with a little wind can cause havoc, so staking is essential in these circumstances.
Sweet rocket, iris, feverfew and euphorbia at the gardens in Riverford
Gardening tips for longer-lasting good looks
For the last couple of weeks I have been stripping out and cutting back various plants that are over, to make space for plants that will flower over the next few months. In the garden pictured below we let campions, forget me nots, feverfews, valerian officinalis, comfreys, euphorbias and sweet rockets seed freely. In the following year they will give a great early summer show and when inter-planted with other perennials, roses, shrubs etc they give a really natural look.
When they are over I cut back and pull some out, leaving a few to go to seed, and use these new spaces to fill with some later flowering plants, suggestions below:
Some of my favorite annuals are:
Nicotiana Sensation: A lovely scented mix of pinks, purples and whites. Nicotiana lime green are fabulous and look great next to bright pinks, reds and orange plants. Nicotiana affinnis are white and the most heavily scented.
Having sowed these a little later than usual I am now inter-planting them in gaps I have created. They look fabulous and scent the whole garden especially in the evening. Nicotiana mutabilis grows to a statuesque 3-4 foot and have a strange but pleasant sort of bubble gum fragrance.
Cosmos: Another annual fave of mine and if picked regularly, will carry on flowering til the first autumn frosts. I love the various bright pinks and whites of nicotiana ‘sensation mixed’ but also think ‘candy stripe’ a beautiful variety, pale pinks with a white stripe.
Dahlias: I have been rather worried about myself the last few years as I have taken to liking dahlias, after being really rather snobby about them for the last 25 years!! What is going on? Maybe it’s an age thing and the next step will be carnations. God forbid! The thing is, they really are a fantastic late flowerer and more often than not will perform for many years if the tubers don’t rot over winter. They come in all sorts of colours and shapes and sizes. My favourites are the deep pinks, maroons and reds and planted up with some lime green nicotianas in front, well all I can say is, its heaven.
Verbena bonariensis: Another late flowering perennial I love. Its little purple flowers sit on top of long see-through stems and I plant lots of this in any gaps available.
Strobilanthes atropurpurea: An excellent perennial that grows to just over a metre, this plant freely bears curved and hooded indigo blue or purple flowers above a mound of leafy stems in late summer. It’s not that commonly grown, but I found it at our local plant nursery, Hill House Nursery in Landscove (www.hillhousenursery.co.uk ). This nursery run by Ray, and his son Matthew, is an amazing place to visit with a great café and lovely gardens. It has a classy selection of trees, shrubs, roses, perennials, annuals, herbs, geraniums and well…. I could go on and on. The great thing about Hill House Nursery is the staff have excellent plant knowledge and are very helpful, and they stock many plants you will rarely see in most garden centres. I believe they have an online shop too. Its worth a visit if you are in the area.
Some other perennials to consider for a later performance are Rudbeckia, Helenium, Michaelmas daisies, Japanese anemones and Sedum.
Here are some garden photos from June to cheer you up:
Sambucus nigra, box, roses
Yew, roses, euphorbia and phlomis
Acanthus and cotinus blooming in the garden