Well it’s Friday again, gosh that seems to roll around quickly…suddenly it’s the end of the week and I’m sure it was just the beginning yesterday! Guess time flies when you’re busy!
I will get straight into the plants available today, before I forget what I’m going to write about them. I have lots of different foxgloves/Digitalis coming on, some available now, with more perennial lines ready in the next month. From now on is the ideal time to be planting them and other perennials - they love the autumn weather, when the soils are just the right texture for planting, with regular spells of rain to settle them in. It also means they get to build up a strong root system over the winter/early spring period, before flowering in summer. Sometimes, with ‘first-year-flowering’ plants (Digitalis, Agastache, Echinacea are just a few examples), if they’re planted in spring they have a tendency to fill out a little, then because the day length and temperatures tell them to they shoot up into flower, with not much of a root system underneath. So even if they make it through their first summer they tend to be weaker plants overall, if that makes sense!
Anyway, looking good in the nursery this week are some of the Salvia species, like macrophylla and involucrata var. puberula ‘El Butano’ with it’s lovely soft pale green leaves…it’s contrasting well with the bronze tones of the species Fuchsia hybrid ‘First Success’, the little native rock lily/dwarf rengarenga Arthropodium candidum ‘Purpureum’ has a lovely new crop of mottled leaves, the field Scabious Knautia arvensis are looking very lush, Plectranthus fruticosus ‘James’ is flowering beautifully, plus the foxgloves are putting on lots of growth of course. Here’s a list of a few things I’ve added to the website this week…
Digitalis mertonensis – strawberry foxglove
Erysimum mutabile (wallflower, syn. Cheiranthus mutabilis)
Salvia gesneriiflora ‘Compact Form’
Thalictrum lucidum – few only
I have been busy potting plants lately, I seem to have trays and trays of babies everywhere. I’m also beginning with some “unpotting’ too….starting to sort out summer flowering bulbs now that they are slowly dying down for the winter. It will be a long process as they tend to lapse into decay at different rates. I have to restrict myself with seed sowing…one tray of punnets potted-on equals one tray of seeds sow, or sometimes two trays if I feel like the weather and moon are aligning well for good germination. But really I have to be strict with myself…some days I fail miserably, others I have more will power…seeds are a never ending addiction 😉
I have also been cutting back various perennials, getting them ready for winter, and assessing them for lifting and dividing...parts of the garden now look pretty bare but there are still a lot of plants looking amazing, particularly the shrubs and bushy perennials in the shade garden, and some of the autumn flowering Salvia. Yesterday, as I was weeding in amongst various plants in the back of one border…probably with twigs, leaves and bits of dead flower parts in my hair as so often happens…I brushed up against Salvia discolor. Normally this would result in me feeling like I’d just come into contact with something akin to a sticky suction pad…like a gecko’s foot perhaps…as the stems are rather tenacious. But no, yesterday I stopped and was so delighted I stroked that plant again, several times in fact…it smelt delicious! Sort of fruity like pineapple, except with a sweeter almost lingering hint of vanilla. How I had never noticed this before I do not know…but it was a memorable moment of enjoyment...a time to pause and take in my surroundings. I moved along that garden and by the time I was halfway through the job I realised I was really growing a smorgasbord of aromas…the scent of Nicotiana leaves is freshly-crushed something…almost grassy perhaps? Rose-scented aniseed from the Agastache, an almost medicinal minty encounter with Plectranthus fruticosus ‘Behr’s Pride’, the complex scent of Monarda or bergamot foliage reminds me of fresh herbs, like orange thyme and oregano put together…my aromatic encounter was rounded off with the ‘bowl of fresh fruit salad’ Salvia spathacea which is so deliciously scented that you almost want to eat it. Of course all of these plants have flowers at various times of the year, but they also have foliage, and it’s that foliage which is winning my heart over more and more. The leaves of plants are there to see, touch and sniff for a long period of the year, so our senses are perhaps more wholly satisfied, rather than just our eyes when we spot the first flowers we’ve been waiting impatiently for all year. Flowers are fabulous and I wouldn’t be without them…but foliage adds so much more to the garden than I have ever given it credit for…so I shall keep on acquiring more of it!
It is definitely autumn now. I know this because the crickets are chirping, there is a distinct autumnal crispness in the morning and evening air, and I’ve had to start wearing my slippers again. Gone are the balmy days of summer, although to be honest there’s been quite a lot of grumbling here in my house about the lack of summer…it was very short and at times very wet, which is apparently most unlike Golden Bay. Nevermind…roll on next summer!
With the arrival of cooler nights the Asters are starting to flower and are looking beautiful. I have quite a lot of them now and I am never quite sure which one I like the most...'Little Carlow' is such a good plant, a real 'all rounder' really, and is such an easy colour to place in the garden as it goes so well with almost anything. 'Hi-Jinx' is a hybrid that was bred here in NZ and I love it as the flowers are small enough to be quite dainty but big enough not to be squiffy, and the berry coloured centre's are just gorgeous. Definitely one I wouldn’t be without.
'Alma Potschke' is perhaps not a favourite colour but she certainly knows how to put on a flamboyant show and really gives the garden a lift with her vibrant hot pink flowers. The grey-green foliage indicates her New England Aster parentage (correctly Symphyotrichum novae-angliae now). I love the shimmery sheen to the petals of 'Purple Passion', another New England Aster, but this heart throb is not one to plant in a small garden...let's just say he likes to send out big branches of love to all his neighbours! I have to remember to site him carefully in amongst strong upright plants, like Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ and the red stems of Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, anything softer would just get swamped.
'Serendipity' is apparently Little Carlow's baby and is growing on me a great deal...the flowers are a bit fuller than ‘Little Carlow’ but the colour is just as good, with perhaps more of a mauve tint. In behind 'Serendipity' the tiny golden-centred white flowers of 'White Heather' are just coming out...very soon this will look stunning, like a cloud of tiny little poached eggs. Sounds unappealing when I put it like that but it really is a sweetie, and only 50cm high too. But I still return to the patch of 'Little Carlow' which compliments the rest of the garden so beautifully…I think this has to be one of the finest Asters ever bred and it certainly lives up to its reputation across the world. However, in a couple of weeks my gaze will be averted no doubt…I still have so many Asters yet to flower…’Lady in Black’ is sending out long arms of dark foliage and masses of tiny buds, looking for all the world like a giant octopus dressed in the finest lace. ‘Jeannie’ is just opening her sumptuous deep violet blue flowers, the very small ‘Pink Lace’ is looking like a pink flowered football, ‘Coombe Fishacre’ will be open soon and I love this one…so tall and dark and handsome in an unusual pink shade. Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. horizontale (I pay homage here to the botanical rule makers of the world…but honestly I do wish they’d change it back to Aster, it was SO much easier to say)…is sending out its firework-like stems studded with tiny pink-centred creamy white flowers. And then there is ‘Kylie’…the prettiest cloud of small pink flowers you ever did see, complimented very demurely by her soft grey-green foliage. Gosh I could go on for hours about Asters couldn’t I, there’s just so many of them, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some…
I will endeavour to dig and divide as many of these beauties as I can for selling in the spring…every garden should have at least one!
In the nursery I have been busy potting up salvia cuttings, so there will be some plants of these coming available over the next month or so. I’ve also been sowing seeds, and pricking out seedlings, sorting out and sending orders to all you lovely customers of course, and repotting all the bulbs. Thanks so much to everyone who ordered bulbs (they have all sold out). I can officially say it was the most overwhelming weekend for me when I sent that bulb list out…90% of them sold out within 24 hours, and everything else was gone within a few days. I didn’t envisage the amazing response so thank you everyone, and apologies to those of you who missed out. It is a good reminder to be extra fast with your orders I guess. There will be a smaller list of summer flowering bulbs coming out in Winter, once they’ve died down and been sorted out ready for sale, so if you want to be on the Bulbs emailing list then please let me know.
Just a few new additions to the website this week, everything is growing but still playing catchup from the quiet summer period.
Agastache ‘Astello Indigo’ (new stock)
Agastache rugosa ‘Arcado Pink’ (few only)
Salvia greggii ‘Blue Note’ – more stock added
Salvia lanceolata (very few, more coming)
Salvia mexicana ‘Lolita’ (new stock, will be the last for a while)
Tagetes lemmonii (Mexican marigold, plenty available)
If you’re in Christchurch this weekend then be sure to head along to the Grow Ōtautahi, Christchurch Garden Festival being held at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Friday-Sunday (12th-14th March). Free entry and everything horticultural all in a fabulous setting. You can find more info here https://growotautahi.org.nz/
For plant addicts in the north of the North Island, next Friday and Saturday (19th & 20th March) the Ayrlies Plant Fair returns to tempt us with a line-up of specialist growers from across the country, held in a stunning garden setting. https://ayrlies.co.nz/news/ayrlies-plant-fair/ I can thoroughly recommend it…you never know, maybe I will see you there 😉
Happy weekend everyone!
Time is a funny thing, you’ve either got way too much of it or not enough. I think I’m definitely in the not enough category at this time of year. Every where I look there’s another something that needs doing…trimming, picking, sowing, digging, potting, writing, typing…bags of seeds waiting to be sorted, and lets not get started on the cooking and cleaning! Sometimes it can feel quite overwhelming if I look at all the unfinished jobs still waiting to be done…so I am learning to focus on what I have achieved rather than what I haven’t.
Today I can finally announce that I have finished my 2021 Bulb List...YAY!! If you haven’t received a copy via email then it will be because I only send the bulb list out to people who specifically request it. So please let me know if you’d like a copy sent to you – it’s in PDF format, or you can ask to be sent the larger MS Word file instead if you prefer. Either way, you will need to get in quick to secure some of these treasures…(the list is also available to view on my website here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/bulbs.html#/ )
The garden is starting to take on a real late summer-into-autumn feel now, with the stars of the show being the Heleniums, Achillea and Rudbeckia, and about to be joined by lots of different Asters and autumn Salvias. I love all the colours and textures of the flowers but I feel my tastes changing a little too. Funny how these things happen as we grow. I am becoming more and more focussed on foliage and form, and far less on the actual flowers.
I’m also writing an ever-growing list of all the things that need shifting around…a problem that happens when you have to start new gardens in a hurry. Suddenly summer comes along and makes you realise that not everything is where it should be!
Anyway, right now I know I should be in bed, so I will send this email then switch this computer off for the night! Just a few extras added to the list this week….
Agastache ‘Astello Indigo’
Arthropodium candidum ‘Purpureum’
Phlomis purpurea ‘Matagallo’
Salvia greggii ‘Blue Note’ (the first few…more to come)
Have a happy weekend,
Hello from the not-so-sunny Golden Bay, where rain seems to be the number one theme this week.
The early hours of Monday morning brought a deluge from the skies – basically 1ml per minute for a couple of hours – which was not at all fun, for me or the plants. A total of 161ml that morning, plus more yesterday and overnight means everything is just wet and soggy. I did think it was supposed to fine up this morning but it’s pretty bleak out there so I’m in the office for a bit instead.
In between all the rain I have been attempting to pot up plants as fast as I can, because suddenly there is a shortage again and lots of new things coming on that need to go into larger pots ready for sale. So watch this space…
In the meantime, there are just a few new additions to the website this week, which are listed below, or you can find everything on my website here https://www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz/perennials.html#/
Dianthus barbatus ‘Kaleidoscope’
Helipterum roseum ‘Pierrot’ (punnets)
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’
Salvia ‘Costa Rica Blue’
Salvia nemorosa ‘Blue Queen’
Scabiosa caucasica ‘House Hybrids’
Solidago ptarmicoides (previously Aster ptarmicoides)
Symphyotrichum (Aster) ericoides
Verbena hastata ‘Pink Spires’
Out in the garden I have been busy weeding as time allows, and planting the odd thing in gaps. Really I need to wait for the soil to dry out a bit before I can develop any more of the gardens I have planned. I am very impressed with a bed I put in over winter, which has now filled out and is looking fantastic. Geranium ‘Victor Reiter Junior’ teams up nicely with Centaurea dealbata, then the foliage of the ever-expanding Campanula primulifolia which is slowly coming up to flower. I think there’s some Phlox and Achillea tucked in there too. The Peony foliage makes a great backdrop for my favourite Agastache cana ‘Bolero’ which forms bushy clumps of fabulous smokey purple foliage, and the spikes of small, dark magenta flowers are a nice colour pop too. I’ve blended it with Thalictrum aquilegifolium ‘Purpureum’ and Knautia arvensis, the field Scabious. The Knautia is seriously impressive – what a great plant! It is tough, hardy, and just keeps on sending up masses of lilac Scabiosa-like flowers on long stems which look lovely waving about in the breeze. Perfect for picking too, as the flowers are only small-medium sized so don’t hang their heads from being too heavy. It looks like it will just keep going all summer long but will wait and see. I also have an outstanding new Echinacea in this bed, which is an E. pallida var. simulata hybrid. Take your best, most vibrant deep pink Echinacea purpurea cultivar and add elegant drooping petals for drama and long narrow, soft grey-green foliage for effect and that is pretty much what this seedling has turned into. It also stands about 80cm tall at present, and looks stunning rising out of the luscious frothy foliage of Geranium ‘Joy’. The Echinacea is one of three seedlings I put in that spot and so far it is the biggest and best, with twice as many petals as a standard E. pallida…and very early flowering, but I’m waiting to see what the other two come up with. One is definitely going to be paler…so we shall see.
Anyway, it looks like the sun is trying to send some sort of weak glow of hope through the drizzly clouds, so I’m off to have lunch then head out to the nursery again.