Sunday, November 29, 2009


There are few thrills at this time of the year time of the year, Sarcoccoca wallichii and the lovely Narcissus Cedric Morris being among the exceptions. Although the summer of 2009 seemed an endless roll of wet days and low temperatures there were some plants that performed spectacularly, provided you could brave the global warming and get out to admire them.

ROSCOEA PURPUREA 'RED GURKHA' is the latest 'must have' in the family with large brick red flowers. It too likes part shade and never wants to dry out during it's growing season.

DEINANTHE CAERULEA is an easily grown chinese woodlander that likes a cool moist spot, and hates to be burnt by hot sun.

ORYZOPSIS MILACEA is a graceful, airy grass that begins to flower in June and goes on looking good right through until February. It probably prefers a hot summer but did look superb dripping the incessant moisture of last summer.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


The climbing aconites have loved this years wet summer and are looking their best now.

Aconitum austroyunnanense appears late but has shot up 12' into a variegated philadelphus and is covered in bright blue flowers.

Aconitum pseudo laeve is more of a loller than a climber, it has reached about 3' and leans against adjoining shrubs.

The pick of the bunch for me is Aconitum bulbilliferum. I only bought it this year, but it has grown to at least 8' and is covered in hooded claret coloured flowers.

All my plants came from the fantastic Crug Farm nursery and all of them seem happier growing in cool moist shade.

They give a late summer lift to any shrub that is looking a bit dull at this end of the season.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


It is often said that August is a 'difficult month' and so it is cheering to have some climbers that peak now.

Itea illicifolia is an evergreen lolling shrub that grows happily against a north wall, albeit a light one. The splendid catkins seem longer than ever this year after three wet summers. If you have the energy try to visit them in the late evening to enjoy the fantastic smell.

Codonopsis grey-wilsonii is a delicate herbaceous climber and probably the most 'weedable out' plant you could grow. The fine thin shoots appear quite late in the spring and only need a gentle nudge towards the host plant. Plant it in shade and make sure it doesn't dry out.
When the flowers appear they are quite out of proportion to the stems and deserves the closest inspection.
Campsis 'Mme Galen' is no shrinking violet but an exotic 'in your face' orange.
It likes as much sun as it can get but seems oblivious to winter cold, and will flower throughout the last weeks of the summer .

Monday, July 06, 2009


Some of the smaller flowered clematis are at their best now. The flowers are not showy and they seem to display themselves best if grown through a host shrub rather than on a wire or trellis.

Here are three I am enjoying at the moment.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Like Dame Edna I am very proud of my Glads.
I grow Gladiolus byzantinus in a wild flower meadow. The purists would be horrified as it comes from southern Europe, but grows happily in long grass along with the equally alien Camassia from North America.
I love it now with buttercups, oxe-eye daisies and Lady's Smock.
I have ,at last, managed to establish yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) which greatly reduces the vigour of the grass.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Two plants which are giving me great pleasure now are the diminutive North American woodlander Scoliopus bigelovii and the suckering shrub Oemleria cerasiformis.
You would probably fail to notice either of them in high summer but at this time of year they stand out.
The Scoliopus only grows to about 6”, has beautifully veined flowers, and neat hosta- like foliage. It seems happy in moist shade.
The Oemleria cerasiformis is an 'easy to grow' 6’ shrub and is probably not worthy of a prime position.
It looks quite dull by April and spreads with a little too much enthusiasm. Plant it in a hedgerow where you can admire it when it is at it’s peak, and then let it fight it out with tough neighbours the rest of the year.