August in the flower garden

As we get into mid-August the garden has certainly come alive again with a whole series of new perennials coming into flower, the repeat flowering roses back in full bloom and some of the earlier perennials that have been cut back flowering for a second time. Here are my six highlights for this week.

One: Nicotiana sylvestris ‘Only the lonely’

I have been really pleased with these ‘Only the lonely’ this year. They grow from such tiny seeds in the spring that you can hardly imagine that these 4 foot plants will be flowering at the back of the border by August. I have planted these to shine out against a bank of dark green shrubs that demarcate the boundary with the lane beyond. The bed started off in the spring with a mix of cream City of Vancouver tulips and ‘Purple Sensation’ Alliums. This was followed by a mix of white and rose Astrantia, white veronica and a mass of white Lychnis flos-jovis with a pale pink centre. We are now entering the third phase which is deliberately trying to create a cool looking area in the heat of August. Accompanying the Nicotiana sylvestris are a mass of Thalictrum delavayi which we grew from seed a few years ago and are now establishing well.

Two: Zinnia Elegans ‘Lilliput Orange’

We have not grown this variety before and to be honest it is rather small (perhaps the clue was in the name!). Normally we grow the Benary’s Giant Series and I think we will probably return to these next year. Having said that I do think these Lilliput Orange go beautifully with the Delphinium consolida ‘Frosted Skies’.

Three: Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’

This clump of Phlox have certainly liked the weather this year and are really performing. The scent is wonderful. They are backed by the ruby Penstamon which is now delivering its second flush of flowers.

Four: Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’

We have grown a number of different Rudbeckia this year and I think this big double ‘Cherokee Sunset’ looks really good in the flower border. The large almost Chrysanthemum type flowers come in a range of rich oranges, browns and yellows. It looks as if some Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Forest’ have also crepted into the seed tray. These are the yellow single flowers on the right of the picture with the orange disc. We will certainly be growing ‘Cherokee Sunset’ again.

Five: Tagetes patula ‘Cinnabar’

We haven’t really grown African Marigolds much in the past and I think we have spent the year trying to work out how best to use them in the garden. In some places we have failed miserably as their large size hasn’t suited the location or they have over-powered things we have planted with them.

Because they are such strong growing plants I think they have done best in the large borders where they can easily hold their own against other big plants. Here they are growing with Lysimachia clethroides and the Dahlias ‘Ludwig Helfert’ and ‘Arabian Nights’.

Six: Agapanthus ‘Queen Mum’

My final choice for this week is this beautiful evergreen Agapanthus ‘Queen Mum’. We grow these in large pots so that we can take them into the greenhouse and protect them during the winter. The have huge blooms (nearly 9 inch across) on tall long stems. Each of the white florets is dusted with a delicate blue at the base. Something we treasure.

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 star plants for August

Despite the weeks of dry weather here in the UK Midlands some of the garden plants have still performed wonderfully during August.  These late summer flowers are adding a real freshness to the garden which has otherwise looked rather dry and scorched.

Here are my ‘Six on Saturday’ star performers.

One:  Agapanthus africanus

These are the large evergreen Agapanthus with strap like leaves.  They tend to be more tender than the deciduous types.  These plants are growing in large terracotta pots that we take into the greenhouse for protection over the winter months.

P1010986 Agapanthus

Two:  Sunflower ‘Vanilla Ice’

This is a medium height sunflower with delicate lemon yellow hand-sized flowers.  They do need some support but if you keep dead heading you get a succession of good quality flowers throughout the summer.  As you can see they are also enjoyed by the bees.

P1010918 Sunflower Vanilla Ice

Three: Physostegia virginiana

This is a perennial that thrives in damp soil and full sun.  Part of the cut flower garden is waterlogged for most of the winter and also remains moist through the summer months.  The Physostegia (along with the Astilbe) love these conditions.

P1020012 Pysostegia

Four:  Cosmos ‘Sensation Mixed’

One of my favourites.  It is such a happy looking plant and the large colourful flowers complement the green fluffy foliage wonderfully.  Over the years we have learnt not to treat it too kindly.  If you plant it in ground that has not been previously cultivated you get masses of green leaves and very few flowers until very late in the year.  Not terribly helpful for cutting.  Growing in poorer ground with little additional fertiliser gives you many more flowers earlier in the year.

P1010889 Cosmos

Five:  Rudbeckia

It has been difficult to choose just one Rudbeckia.  They are so important to the late summer garden yielding masses of bold yellow and rust coloured flowers.  This particular variety is an annual Rudbeckia hirta ‘Autumn Forest’.

P1010997 Rudbeckia

Six:  Acidanthera

Last but certainly not least in this six is the Abyssinian gladiolus, Acidanthera murielae.   Unlike many of the garden gladioli it looks delicate and elegant and moves gently in the breeze.  It has a wonderful scent and is good for cutting.

P1020016 Acidanthera

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.