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!