Six new garden plants for July 2020

Yes we have been plant shopping once again over recent months. Certainly there have been far more than six (!) but here are a selection for this week’s Six-on-Saturday.

One: Euonymous japonicus ‘Benkamasaki’ (Erecta)

We have cleared and replanted a short path near the entrance to the garden gate. Although this area looked lovely for a short time during the early summer it tended to look rather untidy and drab for the rest of the year.

We have been looking for plants that will keep there shape and also have some kind of interest during the winter months as well. There is nothing worse than having to brush past wet plants in the winter months every time you go in and out of the house. Rejuvenating this area has also allowed us to dig up, divide and replant the bearded iris that grow well here.

Browsing around the local plant nurseries we came across this Euonymous japonicus which we have not grown before. It has an erect fastigiate habit of branches that are entirely covered in shiny evergreen small leaves.

P1040470 Euonymous Jap Benkamasaki

Two: Rose ‘Eustacia Vye’

P1040482Rose Eustacia Vye

The recent lockdown period has also given us time to totally redesign a large border that is directly opposite the patio and one that we often sit near whilst having our relaxed morning coffee (the joys of retirement!). The new border has become known as the ‘Moon Garden’ and the intention is to create a bed that continues to shine in the evening light but also has gentle hints of colour to enjoy during the day. Fragrance will also be an important component of this area as the design develops.

One of the focal plants in this bed will be Rose ‘Eustacia Vye’. We have just planted six of these lovely roses and already they are flowering their socks off. Apparently named after the flawed heroine of Thomas Hardy’s “The Return of the Native”, this rose is highly fragrant and has deep pink buds that open to these delicate apricot pink blooms and age to a soft pink. I am really looking forward to the impact of these shrubs in the years to come.

P1040463 Rose Eustacia Vye

The new Moon Garden will have a range of white and purple flowers that seem to shine out or glow at dusk. These include plants such as Lysimachia clethroides, Nicotiana sylvestris and the white cosmos ‘Purity’. We have also included the tall purple Verbena bonariensis which to my mind seems to just glow in the evening light.

However it is not just about the flowers as we have also decided to include a a range of plants with silver foliage to add to the effect. These include:

Three: Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’

P1040479 Euphorbia characias Tasmanian Tiger

This evergreen perennial should grow into a significant plant of around 60cm in height and width. It has striking grey leaves edged with cream white.

Euphorbias seem to like our garden soil and hopefully this one will also settle in well to this bed which is well drained and in full sun all day long.

Four: Helichrysum stoechas ‘White Barn’

Discovered and named by Beth Chatto, we have placed a couple of these lavender sized plants within the new Moon Garden to add additional grey foliage but also a slightly different texture.

P1040481 Helichrysum stoechas White Barn

Five: Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Ball’ and ‘Golden Ball’

P1040480 Pittosporum Silver Ball

‘Silver Ball’ was another impulse buy as we wandered around the plant nursery. Again for the Moon Garden, our intention is that these will add some formality and structure to this border. A native of New Zealnd, it is a compact, dense shrub that should create two neat domes of around 80cm.

However, having fallen in love with ‘Silver Ball’ we just had to go back and get ‘Golden Ball’ for the new ‘tidy’ beds at the garden entrance and front of the house that I mentioned earlier. The intention here is to create a ‘warmer’ evergreen feature with the golden leaves that will look good both in summer but also throughout the darker winter days.

P1040469 Pittosprum Golden Ball

Six: Coleus

In last weeks six we highlighted a range of the container plants that we are trying this year and there wasn’t room to include some of the Coleus that we have discovered. We haven’t grown Coleus since the 80’s and possibly they are a bit out of fashion these days. However, there seemed to be some wonderful varieties available now and they happened to find their way into the shopping basket. All being well we should be able to bulk these up and propogate them if are careful.

I am not sure we have found the right position for them yet as some are getting marked. The beauty of plants in pots is that you can move them around to find the position they like best.

P1040476 Coleus Flame Thrower
Coleus ‘Flame Thrower’
P1040474 Coleus Gays Delight
Coleus ‘Gay’s Delight’
P1040475 Coleus Redhead
Coleus ‘Redhead’

In addition to those we found at the nursery we have also successfully grown ‘Festive Dance’ from seed this year. They have been hugely successful and are rather cute little baby plants with a gentle ‘sparkle’ on the leaves.

P1040543 Coleus Festive Dance
Coleus ‘Festive Dance’

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

It is definitely rose time!

There is so much to see in the garden at the moment and Six on Saturday is simply not enough.  However, as we move from May to June it is the roses that are in the ascendency and I really couldn’t have a six this week without them.  I spent today cutting the grass and repeatedly stopped to smell the roses as I went past each time.  The grass cutting took rather longer than usual!

Here are six that I have chosen to highlight today – there could have been so many more.


One:  Boscobel

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This is a beautifully fragrant English Shrub Rose (also known as Auscousin).  This group of repeat flowering roses sits in front of a Cornus kousa which is also flowering wonderfully this year.

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Two:  Rhapsody in Blue

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Perhaps a slightly weird colour for a rose (it is on the way to blue but definitely not a true blue).  It is certainly a talking point and I think goes very nicely with the purple leaves of the Cotinus coggygria.


Three:  Comte de Chambord

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This is a very fragrant shrub rose that we planted as part of our 25th wedding anniversary rose garden.  Now over 15 years old they are still going strong (as are we!).  They combine very well with the Persicaria bistorta in the foreground and the brick red ‘My Castle’ lupins.


Four:  Rambling Rosie

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About three years ago now we converted the old flower growing area of our floristry business into a more aesthetically pleasing flower garden.  We simply love growing flowers.  We have planted a couple of climbing roses over two new pergolas and it has taken them a couple of years to really get going.  This year they are full of flower buds and ‘Rambling Rosie’ I hope will really perform this year.  Fingers crossed.


Five:  Rose ‘Festival’

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I have a bit of a soft spot for this rose.  It is one of a number the roses that I received as a leaving present when I left the East Malling Research Station in Kent and moved up to Horticulture Research International at Wellesbourne in 1992.  It is a lovely rose and seems to be very healthly despite its age.  In the foreground here is the pink Kolkwitzia which the bees absolutely adore with the white mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata) behind.

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Six:  Paul’s Himalayan Musk

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It has proved quite difficult to photograph this rambling rose which creeps its way up through the trees and shrubs and pops out flowers where you least expect it to have reached.  It is a lovely, strongly fragrant rose with small blooms in large drooping clusters. The colours of the individual blooms change as they age from blush pink towards white.

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That’s it for this week.  I strongly suspect that roses may well appear again in the coming weeks.

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

 

It has been a rather blustery day…

It has been so windy this weekend that taking pictures for ‘Six on Saturday’ (and doing any gardening) has been a bit of a challenge.  Luckily there has been surprisingly little damage.  My other challenge has been limiting myself to just six as there are so many beautiful things emerging in the garden.  Anyway here are my six for this week.


One:  Anthericum liliago major (St Bernard’s Lily)

We saw this plant in the white garden at Bourton House Garden in the Cotswolds a couple of years ago and just had to have one.  It is lovely and has established very well.  Next year I think we will have a go at dividing it and spreading it further around the garden.   If you get a chance to visit Bourton House Garden is excellent.

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Two:  Eleagnus commutata

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This deciduous Eleagnus has been very successful growing in the long grass at the edge of the shrubbery.  It is currently covered in sweet smelling yellow/cream flowers and fills the air with scent even on a windy day like today.


Three:  Angelica archangelica

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These plants have been a long term project.  One of those spectacular, tall architectural plants that take a bit of time to grow.  They are biennials and I originally sowed the seed early last year planting them out in the early autumn.  This year they have come of age and the bees and insects absolutely love them.  They are tall (nearly 6ft) and magestic plants that stand up well despite the strong winds we have had this weekend.  I am pleased with them but I think my wife is less impressed!


Four:  Robinia

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This tree was originally grown from a small seedling.  It took a little while to get going but now each year it is covered with masses of white, fragrant, pea-like flowers.  It is something we always enjoy but beware it does have some seriously dangerous spikes.

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Five:  Dutch Iris ‘Red Ember’

As growers and former event florists I think we are both fans of dutch iris and typically grow the mixtures which are blue, white and yellow.  This year we tried the variety ‘Red Ember’.  It has a rather lovely exotic colour and I wouldn’t be surprised if we grow it again next year.  What we do need to do I think is decide what other plants would complement it in the border at this time of year.  Any views welcome.

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Six:  Greenfinches

Next for something completely different.  Greenfinches (Carduellis chloris) have been in trouble in recent years and their numbers have declined across the UK due to disease.  A recent decline in numbers has been linked to an outbreak of trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly.

Over the last couple of years we have heard the characteristic calls of greenfinches but they have remained high in the trees and rarely ventured closer into the garden.  This year we seem to have a group of three (perhaps juveniles) that have been skipping around the shrubs in the garden together.  Worth a place in the ‘six’ for this week I think.

P1040199 Greenfinch


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

Six on Saturday: April blossom

Well what a few weeks of stunning spring weather we have had here in the United Kingdom. The blossom and flowering shrubs are looking spectacular, untouched by frosts or rain.  Fingers crossed, we should have a good crop of pears and cherries this year as it has been warm and sunny and the bees have been flying.

I have really been spoilt for choice this week with so much coming into bloom but I have decided to concentrate on the blossom and flowering shrubs.


Viburnum carlesii

P1040007 Viburnum carlesii

This shrub is certainly the star when it comes to fragrance at the moment.  Its large round heads of flowers have a wonderful scent that just hangs in the air.  This mature shrub is around 7-8 feet in height now and is situated nicely by the path where we walk regularly from the house to the garden.  A perfect position.


Malus

P1040029 Malus

I am not sure of the variety of this red leaved crab apple but it is performing extremely well this year.  We planted this small flowering tree in memory of our much loved German Shepherd ‘Fern’ and it brings her back into mind when it flowers each year.  It has sumptuous rich red flowers that contrast well with the white blossom of the wild cherry tree behind.

P1040030 Malus


Cytisus (Broom)

P1040038 Broom

This white broom is one of a number out in flower at the moment.  It is probably the Cytisus x praecox Albus but the label is now long gone.  For us this white flowered variety has a much more pleasant scent than the yellow varieties which can be a bit of an acquired taste.

Broom can tolerate quite poor soil and as a member of the pea family will also fix its own nitrogen.  Its green stems allow it to continue to photosynthesize during the winter months if the weather is mild.

P1040039 Cytisus albus


Pear

P1040043 Pear

We have three pear trees around the garden, a Doyenné du Comice, a Conference pear and an interesting cooking pear called Winter Nellis (excellent for Delia’s Spiced Pickled Pears at Christmas).  Along with the Cherry blossom the pears really bring the orchard to life.  The earliest orchard tree to bloom is the apricot followed by the plums, cherries and pears.  Very soon the orchard will shift from white to pink as the quince and apple blossom emerge.


Spirea arguta

P1040019 Spirea arguta

A couple of weeks ago I was praising the rich bronze foliage of a very different Spirea, Spirea japonica.  This week it is the turn of Spirea arguta.  This is a very reliable and easy maintence shrub that grows to about 5 feet in our garden.  At this time of year it is covered with small white flowers that make it look as if it has a dusting of snow.  In a week or two there will be a nice succession as S.arguta is replaced by S. nipponica.


Cherry

P1040041 Cherry

Last but not least I must highlight the blossom of the sweet eating cherries in the orchard.  I love these trees although to be fair the birds do seem to get far more of the large ripe cherries than I do.  Perhaps this year will be my year!

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

Six on Saturday – April shrubs and small trees

The dry days and sunshine over the last couple of weeks has transformed the garden. The soil is now workable and everything is coming to life.

Although many of the spring bulbs are still flowering it is the shrubs and small trees that are now coming into their own. This is my selection from the garden for this week’s Six on Saturday.

Skimmia japonica

This evergreen shrub is in full bloom at the moment and looks very lush and healthy. The honey bees just love it and it is great to see so many on the plant this year. A number of people in the hamlet have hives and this bodes well for an excellent crop of fruit later in the year (and a bumper cider harvest!)

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Spirea japonica ‘Gold Flame’ (syn. Spirea brumalda)

This is a stunning shrub and its golden orange foliage simply glows in the spring sunshine. It is something that I would like to have more of around the garden and hopefully we should be able to propogate it from cuttings later in the year.

The new foliage of many shrubs is not suitable for cutting for flower arrangements as the fresh emerging leaves wilt quickly. Spirea japonica ‘Gold Flame’ is an exception to this rule as the leaves emerge from old wood and can be successfully cut and conditioned.

This has the added advantage of pruning the shrub into shape and reducing the pink flowers that are produced from the old wood. It is really the glorious foliage that you are trying to encourage with this variety.

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Viburnum tinus

This year our large Viburnum tinus in the shrubbery seems to be flowering extremely well. It does seem to vary from year to year but it has clearly liked the wet, warmer winter conditions this year. It has large hand-sized clusters of blooms which are a mix of pink and white.

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Amelanchier lamarckii

I just love this small tree when it it comes into flower. The mass of delicate white flowers contrast beautifully with the bronze foliage. A must for any garden I think.

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Berberis darwinii

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Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s Barbary) is native to southern Chile and Argentina. There is no doubt it is a very prickly beast. At this time of year however it is in its prime with this stunning show of ‘in-your-face’ yellow blooms. I can imagine it is not to everyone taste but I think it sits well with the Amelanchier and Viburnum tinus which all flower together in the shrubbery under the silver birch trees. Both the Berberis and Viburnum are evergreen and provide structure in this part of the garden throughout the winter months.

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‘Victoria’ Plum

My final choice for this week is a new Victoria Plum tree that was given to me by my daughter for my birthday last year. It is only a small tree but it is flowering profusely and the bumble bees are regular visitors.

I am trying to do a little succession planning in the orchard as my lovely old ‘Warwickshire Drooper’ plum that I planted over 25 years ago is beginning to show its age. Limbs are beginning to die and drop off! Hopefully this old tree has a few years left in it yet but I wanted to get a new tree established to take over in the coming years. Victoria is common for a reason – it is such a great plum variety and I hope that it will establish quickly.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

Welcome signs of spring at the beginning of February

It is always very exciting to see the first blooms of the year begin to emerge with all the promise of a full year back out in the garden again.

So far the 2019/2020 winter has not been particularly cold although it has been very wet and our boots gather the mud and chew up the grass as we walk around the garden.  Throughout the garden the snowdrops are in full swing and the small pink flowers of the spring Cyclamen (Cyclamen coum) are emerging in the woodland areas.

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Elsewhere the spring show of hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) is beginning to start.  We have taken the old, over-wintering leaves off the hellebores to allow the flowers to be seen at their best.  They seem to sit so well among the drifts of snowdrops .  Although we have purchased specific varieties over the years they inter-breed freely and self seed in the moist and shady areas.  We now have a delightful range of colours from very pale pink to almost black.

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One of my favourites at this time of year (and a true indication that spring is around the corner) are the small Iris denticulata.  We have tried to grow this directly in the ground in the past but with little success.  This is probably because during the winter the soil here is always very wet due to the high water table.  In recent years we have grown them in terracota bowls of gritty compost and they now seem to be reliably perennial.

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In addition to the newly emerging spring bulbs and perennials there are a also range of shrubs in full flower.     The winter flowering cherry that we planted some twenty-plus years ago in memory of our first German Shepherd ‘Lenka’ has not grown much but does come into flower reliably each year.  A lovely annual reminder of fun times together when it comes into flower.

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One of the great pleasures at the moment is wandering around the garden and enjoying the heavily scented winter flowering shrubs that perform at this time of year.  The Viburnum bodnantense has been producing clusters of fragrant pink flowers for months now.   Originally grown from a cutting this shrub is now over 8ft high and creates a wonderful show.

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You do need to position these fragrant winter flowering shrubs carefully so that they are close to a path that you use regularly.  Our Daphne odora is directly by the back door and can be enjoyed by taking a few deep breadths each time you leave the kitchen.

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The final shrub to mention is Sarcococca confusa.  The flowers on this bushy evergreen shrub are not spectacular to look at but the scent is so strong and so lovely.  Once again we have positioned this close to the house so that it can be enjoyed in these colder days of spring.

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It is so nice to see these first signs of spring but it does also concentrate the mind on all those winter jobs that you promised yourself you would do but have not yet been completed.  Pruning the roses is nearly complete and the greenhouse has been cleaned although we do still have some apple trees in the orchard which need to be pruned before they break into leaf.  Whenever we get dry days from now on I expect you will find us out in the garden!

Rose of the day – The Pilgrim

This climbing English Rose was planted in the old rose garden about 15 years ago.  What we call the old rose garden was originally built and developed to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary.  As we approach our ruby wedding anniversary this year it is so lovely to see that most of the roses we planted back then have grown away strongly and are still producing beautiful displays year after year.

The Pilgrim produces quite large soft yellow rosettes of the form that typifies a David Austin English Rose.  It is repeat flowering with a medium strength fragrance and blooms from June into early autumn.

 

Rose of the day – Malvern Hills

David Austin describes this as a ‘repeat flowering english rambling rose’.  It is supposed to grow to some 15 feet and we have planted it to scramble over a new seating area.  We planted this rose about 2-3 years ago now and in reality it has been very slow to get going.  This year we are seeing some strong fresh shoots so we hope that it will now grow away and cover the trellis with clusters of small delicate lighty-fragrant yellow blooms.

The flowers are quite small (see below) but if it flowers as abundantly as the catalogues suggest it should be an absolute picture on the edge of the orchard.  Fingers-crossed that the new strong shoots allow the plant to really get going.

P1030159 Malvern Hills

Rose of the day – Prince Jardinier

We planted a number of bare root Prince Jardinier roses in the new flower garden last year.  For this garden we have deliberately chosen roses with a powerful scent that we can enjoy as we move around this area in the summer months.  Prince Jardinier is certainly performing as expected and has a lovely perfume.

We have grouped these roses with three other varieties (A whiter shade of pale, White perfumella and Sweet parfum de Provence) to give a mix of deep pink through to white.  Prince Jardinier has delicate pink outer petals with a transition to a more intense pink centre.

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Rose of the day – Charlotte

Today’s rose is the English shrub rose, Charlotte.  This plant is probably in excess of 20 years old now and grows at the back of the house in full sun.  The flower bed is quite dry during the main summer months and the plants have to compete for moisture with the neighbour’s leylandii hedge.

Flowering at the moment (early June) it has soft yellow blooms and repeat flowers for most of the summer.  It has a delicate but not powerful fragrance.    Although it does not seem to flower as prolifically as some other roses in the garden it comes back reliably year after year producing a steady flow of two or three blooms at a time.