I have been AWOL again from the blogging world this month, because I have become obsessed by my latest garden project which has left me with no energy or mindspace for anything else. I hope to finish it next weekend and then all will be revealed. And then I will be able to catch up with everybody.
In the meantime, I cannot let the month slip by without picking out my ten favourite plants. Yet again this a difficult task as there are so many to choose from at this time of the year.
In no particular order then, I will start with a very elegant crocosmia which I bought last year, Crocosmia aurea ‘Golden Ballerina’. It is similar to ‘Star of the East’ but much more graceful and with very large flowers.
I never used to like crocosmias because I associated them with the weedy and invasive montbretia which is so difficult to get rid of. First of all I fell in love with the fiery red ‘Lucifer’ and he remained a favourite until he was superseded by the even better ‘Hellfire’. ‘Emily Mckenzie’ is lovely too, with burnt orange flowers with a dark blotch. A couple of years ago the gorgeous apricot ‘Limpopo’ became a favourite and now I am searching for ‘Spitfire’ which my gardening friends and I voted a winner when we saw it recently in the hot border at Hyde Hall. Crocosmias are easy from seed and they come up with some surprises so it is worth having a go.
My ginger lily relative, hedychium is looking good right now. This lovely coral -coloured one is called Hedychium coccineum ‘Tara’ and unlike some hedychiums this one is hardy in my garden even though it looks so exotic. Hedychiums are sometimes shy to flower and so I dose mine with tomato food.
Daisy flowers are a feature of the august garden. I love echinaceas and so do the bees and butterflies. Echinacea purpurea spreads into nice big clumps.
Like many gardeners I have been beguiled by some of the gorgeous new echinacea hybrids over the last few years. Unfortunately they never survive the winter. At the Hyde Hall Flower show earlier this month I saw a fabulous one which is supposed to be winter hardy so perhaps I should have risked it. But I didn’t, so this is one that got away. But isn’t it gorgeous?
Rudbeckias are gorgeous daisy flowers with a dark central cone and they come in a range of perennials or annuals. I love the tall Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstonne’ which grows to 6 feet tall and has buttercup yellow flower with droopy petals.
Another perennial, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ makes a nice statement with its bright daisy flowers.
I fell for this dark rusty brown rudbeckia hybrid recently. In fact it is Echibeckia summerina; a cross between a rudbeckia and an echinacea. I didn’t realise when I bought it. I hope I haven’t shocked you with such a travesty. I have no idea whether it is hardy or not. But I love the colour.
My final rudbeckia is a cheerful annual which I grow every year. It is Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’. Maybe next year I will have a change and try a different one.
And now for something cool after all these hot colours. The gentian- blue flowers of Commelina dianthifolia are quite small and only last for a day but as they are produced with such abundance they create a striking picture. They are easy from seed and bloom the first year.
I have planted them in a pot but as they form tubers which are supposed to be reasonably hardy I might try them in the ground.
Dahlias are a must for the August garden and I have quite a few, including some seed grown ones. But I will feature just one today and that is the lovely Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ which has such lovely dark foliage and delicate flowers.
I never used to like hydrangeas as I always associated them with seaside bungalows. There is nothing wrong with that, except I don’t live at the seaside or in a bungalow. But I have come round to them in the last few years and now have several. I particularly like Hydrangea paniculata. This one which I bought last year has the ridiculous name of ‘Pinky Winky’. At the moment it should be called ‘Wishy Washy’ but last year it got darker as the season went on and gradually turned pink.
For number eight on my list I have chosen another shrub. As far as I know it is the only mahonia which blooms in summer. I love it for its glossy leaves and orange flowers. It is Mahonia nitens ‘Cabaret’.
I am very fond of Crinum powelli. It has large pink trumpet flowers and blooms for a long time in late summer. It likes to have its bulbs planted so that the nose protrudes from the soil and gets baked by the sun. The flowers are slightly fragrant.
For my last choice I have chosen the Pineapple plant Eucomis autumnalis. I keep it in a pot so that it can live in the greenhouse in the winter. You can increase eucomis by leaf cuttings or seeds. I have a year old seedling coming on which I am looking forward to. Who knows it might be something different.
So here we are, my top ten for August. If you would like to share your top ten or top five plants for this month I would love to see them. And now it is time to catch up a bit and see what everyone else has been doing in the garden whilst I have been busy with my new project.