Mention lobelia to me, and it would conjure up humdrum municipal bedding displays or neat but rather twee windowboxes and hanging baskets, usually fixed to shops and pubs. By this time the conversation, and my thoughts, would already have moved on.
Until last summer, when we stumbled upon the trials of lobelia, Lobelia erinus, on a visit to RHS Wisley. As we descended the wide brick steps to the trials field, our eyes were drawn to the vivid range of blues, dotted with white and pink, on the horizon.
February’s issue of The Garden contains an interesting article on these lobelia trials, which reminded me of the stack of photographs on my computer from our trip to RHS Wisley last July, which I have yet to organise and write about.
It was hard not to be impressed by the stunning display of colours, in baskets and containers, each planted with seven plants in a peat free growing medium while their performance was assessed. On this single day of our visit, all the specimens looked free-flowering and voluminous. I was interested to read that from a mix of plants raised from cuttings or seed, at the end of September the five plants which received an AGM were all raised from cuttings.
Along with the results of the trials, the difference in performance between seed and cutting-raised lobelias is discussed in the article, and makes an interesting read. There are pictures of a few more modern planting combinations, which have potential. Looking back at my photos now, these plants seem to sing of summer, and I wonder whether it is perhaps time for a rethink; whether we can yet find a place in our garden, and our hearts, for these rather splendid bursts of colour.