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!