Hot Favourites

High summer, and although the garden’s first peak has been and gone, the garden continues to evolve daily, new favourites sweeping into bloom as others fade. Long border backlit by evening sun Crocomia ‘Lucifer’ smoulders against a cool green backdrop. Crocosmia LuciferThe last rose in flower is bedecked with rich crimson blooms. Red roses The long-awaited Dierama ‘Merlin’, planted out eighteen months before, has finally opened slender papery buds on its tall stems to reveal silken deep purple bells that dance in the breeze and captivate me. Angel’s fishing rods, they truly appear – and what magnificent fish they attract!Dierama Blackbird Dierama BlackbirdThe dahlias are flourishing; David Howard’s deep orange flowers are striking against its dark foliage and stems: Dahlia David Howard Dahlia 'fake Hillcrest Royal' while these hot pink spikes grace a plant that we picked up at Great Dixter last year, labelled as ‘fake Hillcrest Royal’. Curiously, the tuber we had ordered as Hillcrest Royal the year before had proven to be David Howard above! Small tortoiseshell butterfly on giant scabious Butterflies continue to whirl about the garden, mostly small tortoiseshells. They are particularly taken with the Cephalaria gigantea, scabious and sweet williams. One evening as I sat for a minute to enjoy the sunshine, one alighted on my skirt and quivered gently on my knee for ten minutes (while I practised my best sleeping-lions pose and zen breathing) before scuttering off once more in search of nectar nearby. Acanthus spinosusThe glossy foliage of Acanthus spinosus, bought two summers ago, has at last pushed up its first tall flowering stem, bedecked with these wonderful spires of purple and white flowers. Stipa tenuissimaThe ornamental grasses shimmer in the sun, particularly the golden flowers of Stipa tenuissima. Backlit Eryngium giganteum While the small cones of Eryngium planum are just beginning to take on their beguiling deep blue, there are also two large seed-raised plants of the more transient biennial Eryngium giganteum in a pale silvery blue, their flowers in constant attendance by bees. I must ensure I sow some more, as I love their architecture in the summer garden and standing long into the winter. Dianthus knappi 'Yellow Harmony' flowersAlongside the dainty pink flowers of Dianthus carthusianorum which thread their way airily through the borders, I find myself particularly entranced by their relative, Dianthus knappii ‘Yellow Harmony’, which I also raised from seed to flower this year for the first time. They have similar dainty grace to D. carthusianorum, but in a clear primrose yellow, sadly elusive so far in the eye of the camera, which instead presents them in ivory; but their delicate colour – most unusual among Dianthus – is pleasing dotted through purples and blues in the border. Hardy geraniums and alchemilla mollis have flopped in the heat, wilting rather like us, so have been cut hard back, leaving a few gaps in the borders. I have transplanted some self-sown nasturtiums from the vegetable garden to fill some of the spaces with their rambling arms and bright flowers, but must remember to sow a few late summer annuals next year to take over. These are a glimpse of some of our treasures shining in the warm sun, in a garden that still looks surprisingly full and green despite the prolonged hot dry spell.

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8 thoughts on “Hot Favourites

  1. Dierama ‘Blackbird’ is stunningly beautiful, I’ve always wanted to be able to grow them, but it is too hot for them here. Your clay soil should be holding onto enough water to sustain the plants for a while.

    • I’ve hankered after a Dierama for a while, unsuccessfully tried some from seed before buying this one as a small plant. Last year no flowers emerged from its grassy leaves, but this year I have this magnificent display – every bit as beautiful as I hoped! Even our clay soil has needed some watering this week in the heat, as plants that I regard as fairly tough suddenly began to flag.

  2. Your flower beds look beautiful, lovely photos as well. I am very impressed as mine totally lack colour right now, despite my attempt at planning to fill this seasonal ‘gap’. Must try harder next year…although the dryness is the main problem. Bx

    • Thanks Beth. There’s a little less colour than there was a month ago, when the foxgloves and geraniums were in full bloom, but still quite a bit to enjoy.

      I am making notes to myself to sow cosmos again next year, as they would be invaluable right now for brightening up a couple of areas. I’ve only seen one self-sown cosmos from last year, and it is still tiny!

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