Tag Archives: Echinops

In a Vase on Tuesday – A Casualty

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It’s like buses. You wait for ages for one, then two come along at once! So close on the heels of yesterday’s long awaited “In a Vase on Monday” post, I can’t wait till next week for the next one!

It comes, though, virtue of an “accident”. Some of my stems of Echinops had escaped their support. I’m ruthless now, and since they showed no desire to be caged up again, they had to be cut back – flower buds and all.

However, my conscience is always salved, if any material can be recycled in a vase for the house. These stark buds seemed to lend themselves to a simple display. I chose a collection of glass medicine bottles, with one stem in each. It may be simple, and not as frothy as my rose bowl, but gives the poor buds an extended life, giving a bit of pleasure indoors.

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I wonder if they’ll flower!

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Scent in the Garden – August

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I do sense the height of summer is starting to fade. Daylight is shortening and the weather….well! This is when the cracks start to appear in my aim for year round performance from my scented shrub border.

As the last of the honey-scented buddleia flowers get browned off, and Clethra and Caryopteris are still to oblige us, Trachelospermum jasminoides is filling the gap. It opens its pure white blooms and pumps out its strong, heady perfume. Its cousin, Trachelospermum asiaticum, on its partner trellis, has decided not to bless us with flowers this year. Its creamy flowers are not so reliable or abundant as jasminoides.

All is not lost, though. The annuals and tender perennials are delivering what they promised.

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Mmm! My “Black Forest Gateau”!
The Chocolate Cosmos and cherry scented Heliotrope are growing away well, making a tasty-scented display at the back door. I’m sure you know what I mean! They have both performed so well. I do hope I can overwinter them, especially the Chocolate cosmos. I’ve never managed it yet.

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I wouldn’t want to have a summer without Night Scented Stocks! They bring back such precious memories of bygone holidays, immediately transporting me back to the Cotswolds. I have to admit they are not the most attractive of flowers. They have a tendency to have very soft, floppy stems (at least I’ve found that in our garden) and the tiny lilac-White blooms are so small and simple. They don’t even open properly until the evening, but when they do …..Wow! How can such a strong, vanilla perfume emanate from such a small, unassuming flower? It carries all round the garden on a warm evening, leaving the unaware wondering where the scent is coming from. I sow seeds every year in the top of the four large pots on each post of the pergola, that are home to its climbers. Its floppy habit cascades over the rims and they are in prime position for evenings outdoors.

In my search for perfume, elsewhere in the garden, I’ve started sniffing perennials! I’m sure it’s not illegal! Sometimes you can find scent in unexpected places.

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This is our native meadowsweet, or Filipendula, found wild in damp places, such as riverbanks. It is supposedly the original source of salicylic acid or aspirin. These wonderful candy floss flower heads have a soft, sweet perfume. So unlike aspirin!

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Phlox are well known for their perfumed flowers. This rich, deep purple one, “Nicky”, is at its peak, adding its contribution to the grass garden, alongside grasses and late-flowering perennials. It looks particularly good in combination with fennel.

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Good old fennel! Such a good plant! From its aniseed scented and flavoured feathery leaves, to its airy umbels of golden flowers, with spicy seeds, it performs on all levels. Too good for just the herb garden!

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Echinops ritro, or globe thistles, are loved by the bees, as you can see. But take a sniff and you might love them too! A soft perfume but lovely.

What I am missing is one of my favourite scented shrubs – Perovskia atriplicifolia. I have been growing it for many years, but now the back garden has become too shady for it to do so well. I have been waiting for the right time to replant some of the front garden. By that, I mean clearing the existing planting by the house, prior to it being repainted. That done, I should now have the perfect sunny spot to plant some new plants.

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I think they look so much better planted en masse, in groups of at least three.They then create a beautiful lilac haze at this time of year enhanced by their white stems. The scent comes from their tapered glaucous leaves, which smell, when rubbed, of sage, hence their other name of Russian Sage. Ok, somewhat titchy just now, but I’m hoping they will love their new position and romp away. I’ve planted them behind a row of aromatic lavender and I’m hoping for a lovely aromatic combo to welcome us home.

While out front, may I digress a bit? Eucalyptus does fall into the category of scented shrubs, I’m sure. But I do want to show you how beautifully it’s shedding its bark.

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We still have much to look forward to.

How’s your garden smelling? Please share it with us. I’m looking for suggestions for helping me to bridge the gap!

Thank you to Wellywoman and Backlane notebook, for coming up with the idea.
It’d be great if you could join in!

The Summer Garden’s Second Phase

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The Cottage border has now done its thing, and is looking a bit flat and tired out. Even the brave attempts by the Leucanthemum daisies, are now looking a bit half hearted. But all is not over yet.

Travel through the archway, and you’ll find our Grass garden, a border of grasses and hot coloured prairie style planting, that happens to flower later in the summer, providing a well received injection of colour. You’ve had glimpses of it in the past, but now is the time to show you in detail.

Hot Grass border

Hot Grass border

This was the border, as we saw it from the archway, way back in June, when it was just filling out. It’s looking nice and “tidy” (a word I hate when applied to the garden!) at this time, and you can make out the basic layout.

It’s a border about 30ft long by 6ft wide, bounded by two paths – the long central grass path, and a concrete/slab path, that originally ran the length of the garden by the garden wall. The slabs had been removed from the top half of the garden, right at the start, to create our cottage border, but the solid concrete path remained, and has now been incorporated into the gardens designs, as an alternative route round the garden. A gravel path links the concrete path to the Cottage Garden beyond the trellis fence, and has been continued to cut through the Grass border. As the border is so long, with paths either side, I thought it would be nice to link the two paths, creating a path through the planting, to “get up close and personal” with the plants, in particular the oh so tactile grasses. In actual fact, at this time of the summer, it is probably a bit too “close and personal”! More like cutting through the undergrowth – not an easy route!

You can also make out our homemade bench. Two metal gabions, filled with empty wine bottles, and a scaffolding plank across the top. We had fun making that! It’s a lovely, hot sunny spot to sit in, in good weather (with a glass of wine, of course!) Several rusty artefacts have also found their way there, their colouring blending in well with the colour scheme here.

The border is, in actual fact, a combination of three colour-themed borders, merged together.

Firstly, the Chocolate-orange border is the one furthest away in the photo.

Chocolate-orange Border

Chocolate-orange Border

The border is backed by the shrub, Cotinus “Grace”, with its gorgeous, chocolatey leaves. It needs to be hard pruned every spring to maintain its size, as it can grow quite large, but this way it produces improved leaves. Akebia quinata, the chocolate vine, clambers over the archway. The orange flowers here are Helenium “Moorheim Beauty”, and the remnants of flowers and seed heads of Crocosmia “Lucifer”. The spires you see, are the dead flower spikes of Digitalis parvifola. Geums and Kniphofia continue providing more orange elements. The grasses here are Stipa gigantea, the bronze Carex buchananii and Miscanthus “Ferner Osten”, with its wonderful chocolate/wine plumes.

Miscanthus "Ferner Osten" with Cotinus "Grace"

Miscanthus “Ferner Osten” with Cotinus “Grace”

The central section is the Wine border.

Wine Border

Wine Border

Here, the colour scheme is of deep winey reds, with Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail”, Sedum, Knautia macedonia, Sanguisorba menziesii and the annual self-seeder, Atriplex hortensis rubra all set off with the silver Artemisia ludoviciana, and pink Echinacea purpurea. The grasses here are the upright Calamagrostis “Overdam”, the ethereal Molinia “Transparent” and the silvery fountain that is Miscanthus “Morning Light”.

The Grass Border finishes (or starts, depending on how you look at it!) with the Gold border, in shades of golden yellow contrasting with blues and purples.

Gold Border

Gold Border

The gold is provided mainly by the flowers of Fennel and of an unknown perennial Helianthus. At the back of the border, the steely blue orbs of globe thistle, Echinops ritro, tower over 6 ft tall. Thalictrum delavayi, with its lilac froth of flowers blends well with the fennel, creating a very hazy scene, punctuated by spots of purple provided by Phlox “Nicky”. Aster x frikartii “Monch”, is yet to add its lilac flowers to the froth. Elsewhere, there are the blue spires of Perovskia, Veronica, and, earlier, Salvia, with added gold shades from an orange Hemerocallis. Another Calamagrostis, the green “Karl Foerster”, repeats the punctuation provided by the previous silver edged “Overdam” and, sadly, a Melica Atropurpurea, with its beautiful purple plumes, struggles to break through.

You may also have noticed popping up, the purple flower heads of Verbena bonariensis, allowed to self seed throughout the whole border, its repetition linking the three borders together.

And when this border has finished its flowering, it’s still not over. Flowers have been chosen, that have interesting seed heads and shapes, to remain with the dead grasses, giving texture and interest into autumn, and hopefully winter, when frost creates yet another beautiful picture.

There you have it! A riot of colour! Hope you like it!

A Day of Delight and Devastation!

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What a delight today has been! Sun and high temperatures – a perfect day for the garden! A day with lots of little highlights which just scream out “Isn’t life in the garden wonderful”!

First we must get the devastation out of the way. It’s not as dramatic as it sounds – honest!

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The Philadelphus “Virginal” had been threatened with a drastic haircut. A bowl cut no less! Pruning by the book had resulted in vigorous new growth, which resulted in a plant that looked huge and gaunt, with strong, straight regrowth and huge leaves. So I decided to shorten all these long growths, in the hope of some branching lower down, with a more twiggy and pleasant, rounded appearance. Devastation, no less! But I think the results are more pleasing.
The Philadelphus was not alone. I apprehensively wielded the secateurs to our fruit cordons – not such a hacking venture. It did involve a lot of double checking with the manual, but I hope I’ve got it right. They certainly look more the thing!
So devastation is not really the right word. Nerve racking tasks that provide delight with a satisfactory outcome.

It was not all hard work. Among the watering and feeding, there was ample time to appreciate the many delights of the garden today.

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The Cottage garden has now reached its “teenage” phase, where it no longer wants to behave and just wants to sprawl about everywhere. Thank goodness for the late developers!

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I can’t rave enough about Hydrangea “Annabelle”. I’m so glad I added it to our Cottage border. It really packs a punch once the roses are past their best. I say “it”, I’ve repeated it another twice through the border. (I must confess, one is the very similar, Hydrangea “Bounty”.) Add to that the Leucanthemum, and the border takes on a distinctly white appearance, now, contrasting with the blues of the Aconites and Echinops. The rest keep ticking over.

But it’s not all over, yet! We have another bite of the cherry, with our Grass garden, just coming into its own now, extending the garden’s season of interest a bit longer.

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No soft pastels here! It’s all hot colours and textures. It moves from golds and blues, through plummy reds with silver, and onto hot chocolates, oranges and bright reds. All softened with grasses. It’s been ticking over up till now, when it’s heading towards its peak. Once the flowering is over, the grasses and seed heads will keep the interest going well into the autumn, and even winter.

Some little delights!

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Doesn’t the Echinops look wonderful against the lime-green of the hop covered fence?

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I love the way the light strikes this Hemerocallis!

The “Allotment” was also delivering delights.

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Apart from the handful of Japanese Wine berries I displayed earlier, the rest of the patch was filling me with great pleasure. All planted now, and produce, such as broad and French beans, cornichons, lettuce, and artichokes, not to mention my very first sweet pea flower, were all starting to burst forth. And the herbs I added a couple of weeks ago, were well settled in.

Wildlife were basking in it as well. Look closer at the globe thistles and you will see it’s not only me that enjoys them. The bees do too! (By the way, they smell gorgeous! That’s the flowers, not the bees!)

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I also spotted a dragonfly flitting by, and as soon as my back was turned, a robin pinched my seat! (Doubling as my kneeling stool – sadly much loved – and hereby, showing my age!) All too fleeting for my camera.

But I managed to catch one photo. (Annette asked for this, if I could!) One of our frogs, sheltering behind a fern.

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A happy day! 🙂