My Top Ten July Plants.

Last month I looked round the garden and chose  my ten favourites blooms. This is a difficult task in summer when everything is blooming with such abundance. Still, rather than give everyone floral indigestion, I thought it was a good idea to hone in on just ten that are giving me special delight and give a bit of advice on how to grow them. And I would love it if some of you could do the same. It doesn’t have to be a bloom, foliage plants can be just as exciting.

Coming in at number, one we have the pristine blooms of Codonopsis grey -wilsonii ‘Himel Snow’.

Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himel Snow’

You don’t find this climbing plant in nurseries very often because when they are in full growth in early summer, they twine everywhere and their string -like stems are very fragile and easily damaged. I am not sure how hardy codonopsis is but I grow mine in pots for three reasons. One, they may not be hardy; two, they like a slightly acidic soil which I can’t give them in the ground and three the young shoots are caviar to molluscs. Outside, they may be eaten off before I have even noticed them. In the greenhouse I can keep my eye on them and only put them outside when they are growing strongly.  I then put them against something they can sprawl over because they refuse to be confined by their supporting stakes. This plant used to be called Codonopsis nepalensis as it comes from Nepal. It was renamed ‘grey-wilsonii‘ after Kit Grey-Wilson who has done a lot of work on Himalayan flora. They produce plenty of seed but  the seedlings are incredibly  fragile and have to be left in a pot until the second year when you can handle the dormant tubers.  I divide my  mature tubers when they are dormant too.

Number two is another pure white, elegant bloom, the Prickly Poppy, Argemone grandiflora. It is also called the Mexican Poppy, that is why  I prefer using Latin as it avoids confusion.

Argemone grandiflora

I think I will save some seeds of this for my ‘beach’ as it has glaucous, thistly leaves and loves to bask in the sun. I have read that it is an annual but I have had mine for three years.

July is a good time for  true blue flowers. Every body loves blue flowers.  I have chosen  eryngiums today. They have prickly leaves which are very similar to those of the Prickly Poppy. The first is new to me this year. On my beach I have planted the dumpy Eryngium planum ‘ The Hobbit’. As the name suggests this is dwarf and compact.

Eryngium planum ‘The Hobbit’

My favourite though is Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’ because this seems to be the intensest blue of them all. Even the stems are blue. Bees  find it irresistible too.

Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’

They usually come true from seed but this year I have a seedling which is quite different. Ok, it is not the amazing, electric blue of its parent but it is still very pretty.

Seedling of Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’

That is why I love growing things from seed as there are often nice surprises. I have quite a few agapanthus in both blue and white.  So agapanthus has to be number four. Hang on, what am I talking about?  I should have put it at number one, I love agapanthus, which is appropriate as the name comes from agape, the Greek for love. Three or possibly four years ago, (I lose track) I sowed some seeds from two of them, ‘Lewis Palmer’ and a darker blue one called ‘Volga’. They both have large heads but so far,  unlike many large-headed ones, they seem hardy. Lewis Palmer was the man who developed the lovely, hardy Headbourne hybrids which have quite small flowers.

Agapanthus ‘Volga’

My anxiously awaited first blooms have come up with some surprises. For a start they are not even all blue. And they vary in size amazingly.

I am growing them on my beach, some in a large pot, others in the ground.

Some are sky- blue like this one. This is obviously a child of  A.’Lewis Plamer’

But then I got this little white one with brown anthers. How is that possible? It is so pretty.

This other white one has larger flowers with yellow anthers.

Some large flowered ones are still in bud and are going to be later blooming.  I can’t wait for this one to bloom, it has the largest bud of all.

But my greatest delight was reserved for this exquisite stripey one.


Although delphiniums come in a wonderful range of blue colours, the one I am featuring is a July -blooming one in  blue and violet- purple. For years I have cherished a dear little double one called ‘Alice Artindale’. This year the slugs destroyed the shoots. But now there are other double ones in the Highlander range bred by Tony Coakley in Glasgow.  I have ‘Highlander Blueberry Pie’ and I love it so much I am going to look out for more in the range. The flowers are such pretty , frilly rosettes. The clematis on the fence is Clematis viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’.

Delphinium ‘Highlander Blueberry Pie’

Delphiniums are greedy plants that need to be well fed and watered. They need to be protected by what Sam from A coastal Plot blog calls ‘our slimy foes’. They also need careful staking, although having said that this one is not staked and seems quite robust.

I do seem to be stuck on blues in July and as I love campanulas I have chosen a dear little July flowering one which I have growing in my new gravel garden round the sundial. Its little powder blue flowers are double and it is an absolute sweety. It is called Campanula cochlearifolia ‘Elizabeth Oliver’. Like many double flowers it doesn’t set seed but you can divide it in spring.

Campanula cochlearifolia ‘Elizabeth Oliver.

I have to include lilies because they  are so beautifully fragrant and I have to have some smellies on my list. Earlier lilies such as Lilium regale, Lilium candidum or my Martagon lilies were wrecked by the beastly lily beetles. It seems to me that they are not quite as crazy for the giant Orienpet lilies, maybe the leaves are tougher. There were a few little red horrors but I was able to keep up with destroying them. I won’t go in to how I do it here as I have already revolted quite a few people with earlier descriptions. I rather like the white and red Lilium ‘Leslie Woodriff’ although it is difficult to photograph because all the flowers look different ways.

Lilium ‘Leslie Woodriff’

I also love the pale yellow and white  Orienpet lily  ‘Late Morning’.

Lilium ‘late Morning’.

I have  managed to protect the lovely oriental lily ‘Lady Alice’ although it was targeted by  the little beasts in red coats.  With her apricot and white flowers with brown freckles, she is a winner.

Lilium ‘Lady Alice’

My number eight is a plant I mention every summer because I love it so much. It is the hollyhock look-alike  x Alcathaea suffrutescens ‘Parkallee’. It is a cross between Alcea rosea and the marshmallow, Althaea officinalis. It never gets mildew and it grows bigger and taller and bushier every year. Normally it blooms in August and September but this one is early this year. It doesn’t set seed but it is easy from cuttings so I have it all over the garden. The flowers are double and apricoty-coffee coloured.

Alcalthaea suffrutescens ‘Parkallee’

The anthers of each flower are violet.

If you like coffee -coloured flowers and I do, then a pretty annual that I tried for the first time this year is Phlox drummondii ‘Café au Lait’. It is easy to grow and a little charmer.

Phlox drummondii ‘Cafe au Lait’

My last in the list is the easy from seed Scabiosa purpurea. Last year I had ‘Beaujolais Bonnets’ and Chile Black’ and this year I have a nice mixture of colours which have self seeded. They are so pretty and the butterflies adore them.

Scabiosa purpurea


Phew, this seems a long list, but I cheated a bit and gave more than ten plants. If you care to join me and give your ten very favourite plants each month that would be great. If you prefer a shorter list than tell us about your favourite five plants.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to My Top Ten July Plants.

  1. Lavinia Ross says:

    A beautiful showing of flowers, Chloris! In my area, we are in the dry season now, and won’t see much if any rain until mid September or October. I would love to grow Delphiniums, but it sounds like they would need too much water. The hollyhocks we have do set seed, and seem to survive drought from year to year with little to no watering. The white ones died out, but we have pale gold to deep pink ones left.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Lavinia. Delphiniums need quite a bit of water but more importantly a rich diet.
      I have lots of hollyhocks that selfseed too, but they do get rust. Alcathaea suffrutescens is not a true hollyhock. It makes a much bigger plant and has healthy leaves.

  2. Sam says:

    What a great idea, I’d love to join in. I’m not sure I can stretch to 10 but I’ll have a think; 5 may be more realistic. I, too, love agapanthus and scabious, but a couple of your selection are new to me – the phlox and the codonopsis. The deep colours of your scabious are gorgeous; mine are pale pink, lilac or white. Wishy washy!

    • Chloris says:

      Thst would be great if you would join in Sam.
      The phlox is an easy annual but the codonopsis is a bit trickier.
      The parents of my scabious were black and wine red so that is why they had nice dark children.

  3. Kris P says:

    As always, the plants in your garden are fabulous! Your beach area already looks great. My own Agapanthus are mostly, but not entirely, done and my Asiatic lily bulbs, last-minute bargain-basement, appear to be no-shows. But, perhaps I’ll link my favorites list next week, once I’ve cleared out a couple more Fling posts.

  4. March Picker says:

    What gorgeous plants! Chloris, you must be spending hours outdoors to soak up all the beauty. I am bowled over by the ‘Highlander Blueberry Pie’ and ‘Parkallee’. I attempted to start Eryngium seeds and had such minor success that I’m tempted to not try again. When should I begin seeding them indoors? Your ‘Picos Blue’ is a stunner and the blue stems are the best.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you. I once tried growing bought eryngium seeds but they never germinated so perhaps they need to be fresh. I think the seeds do better kept outside as they need a cold period to germinate, but they are slow. ‘Picos Blue’ is a stunner.

  5. I love the selection, especially the Lilies. I am hopeful you will share your Agapanthus secrets with me. I have, sadly, foliage and only foliage for years.

  6. Chloris says:

    Thank you Amy. Are your agapanthus in pots or in the ground? I have read that they bloom better if they are slightly pot bound. Having said that, I have just as many blooming in the ground as in pots. They need a high potash feed and if they dry out one year they will not bloom the following year.

  7. My top five this month taken from my garden visits are: White Gaura lindeimeri, Monarda ‘Bee happy’, allium Sphaerocephalon, verbena ‘Sissinghurst’, and Fuchsia Lady Boothby.

    • Chloris says:

      And a great list it is too. I bought Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ at East Ruston last year. I had never come across a hardy, climbing fuschia before. I thought the frost had killed it but no, it is fine and in bloom right now.

  8. I love them all! And I’m familiar with all but the Codonopsis…and it’s a stunner, with its snow-white blooms and reddish foliage. Gosh, picking the top 10…that’s tough. It changes from year to year, but this year, right now, I will say Zinnia ‘Zowie Yellow Flame, Cosmos bipinnatus, Lantana camara, Echinacea purpurea, Lilium ‘Stargazer,’ Helianthus annuus, Ligularia ‘The Rocket,’ Asclepias tuberosa, Fuchsia ‘Marinka,’ and Antirrhinum majus (in no particular order). I’m sure I forgot some favorites, but those came to mind.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Beth. The codonopsis has apple green foliage, the red leaves belong to a coleus.
      I like your list, zinnias and cosmos are always a great choice. When I was in France I saw a very impressive stand of Ligularia’The Rocket’ in front of an old shed, it looked stunning.

  9. bittster says:

    Your posts are always so full of new discoveries, and congratulations on the agapanthus success! I’m trying one this year which is supposed to be hardy but it still has quite a way to go before there’s even the smallest chance of flowers forming.
    I’d love to join but can barely keep up with the regular blog updates. Summer really needs to slow down.

  10. Chloris says:

    Thank you Frank. You get very cold winters I know, but the small headed Headbourne varieties are quite hardy. The large headed ones are more impressive though. Have you thought of growing them in pots?

  11. Flighty says:

    A wonderful selection, of which the agapanthus are probably my favourites. xx

  12. Cathy says:

    What a good value list, Chloris, with lots of extra information to educate us, a usual. What an exciting collection of agapanthus from your seeds – I have some seedlings from seeds collected in Bristol last Decemebre so I hve no idea what colour the parent plant is, and I guess I shall have to wait a few hours to find out about the progeny! The scabious seeds you gave me are just beginning to flower an I sold some on the plant stall – how likely are they to survive the winter, do you think? Must try eryngium again although they have never done well for me (as yet)…

  13. Bodger says:

    I loved your list, your plants are always interesting and unusual. I struggled to pare mine down to ten, so I cheated. Hemerocallis “Bela Lugosi”, Eryngium “Big Blue”. Lovage and Angelica for green umbellifers, globe artichoke for outrageous purple thistles overhead. Allium, “Red Mohican” for dazzling height and “Christophii” for the best cloudy seed heads. Inula hookeri (yellow oxeye), Thalictrum (meadow rue) “Alba”, Lilium “Lollypop”. Dierama pulcherrimum (angel’s fishing rod) and Persicaria “Painter’s palette” as the perfect foil to Rodgersia’s spectacular leaves. I’ve gone all hot under the collar, so I’m going to lie down for a while.

  14. snowbird says:

    What a selection, all beauties! Himel snow and the prickly poppy are heavenly, you double Delphinium stole my heart though. It’s always fascinating seeing what comes up from seed, I just loved your agapanthus babies.Oh….also blown away by the blue stems of Picos blue… I could go on and on!xxx

  15. Great idea for a post. Love the Argemone and Agapanthus. So glad to hear that the Lily beetles are less interested in the OT hybrids. Glad you were able to protect ‘Lady Alice’, she is indeed a winner. I am waiting for my ‘Casa Blanca’ Orientals to start blooming any day now.

  16. Love this idea for a post, and I love the Agapanthus! Unfortunately, we’re a bit too cold in northern NY for this particular plant 😦 My top ten July blooms can be found at

  17. What a beautiful selection, you have a good eye for a choice plant and I like the way the colours work with the painted wood too. The pale grey picos blue seedling is unusual and fetching.

  18. Pingback: Five flowers for July | acoastalplot

  19. A fine selection! ps I don’t mind being reminded about Alcalthaea every year, it is very special.

  20. Thanks, Chloris, for your plant id help! I love that Alcathaea…..will look it up!

  21. Pingback: High Fives | Frogend dweller's Blog

  22. Great choices and lots to consider. I love the prickly poppy and have a similar pebbled area that I could see it gilding. For some reason I am not good at getting eryngium seed to germinate. Do you have any tips? I would love to see Picos blue and Miss Wilmott’s Ghost around the garden. Here are my 5 current stars:

  23. Brian Skeys says:

    I also love the brilliant blue of Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’, I once saw it growing with an acid green fern on a dry bank, it was a beautiful combination.

  24. Anna says:

    A fabulous top ten Chloris. Isn’t seed sowing full of surprises? The seedling of eryngium ‘Picos Blue’ is so different from its parent. I already had the phlox on my list to try – after reading your description/seeing your photo I wish that it wasn’t too late to sow it now. I will try to take part later but may not get to ten 🙂

  25. Tes agapantes sont superbes et quelle belle couleur violette !!!

  26. Lovely, Liz. Agapanthus and Delphinium: two of my great favourites.
    We have both red and pink (tall) phlox blooming fresh now, as are the red bergamot. The white phlox come later.

  27. Pingback: Five favourite flowers for July. |

  28. Top ten? I think you are cheating Chloris! You are forgiven of course and your selection are all fabulous. I have not tried agapanthus from seed but it has to be worth a try as they are rather expensive to buy as plants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s