My Top Ten July Blooms.

Goodness, a drought like this makes you want to give up gardening and take up something more rewarding like stamp collecting or train spotting. I have been away on holiday and usually having somebody coming in to water pots, veggies and vulnerable plants twice a week will save the garden from disaster.  This summer despite the valiant attempts of the waterers, ( thank you Min and Julie)  and my efforts since I got home, the garden makes me want to weep. Witch hazels,  hydrangeas, delphiniums, ferns and goodness knows what else look dead. There is only one word to describe the landscape round here and that is sere.  Very sere. We have to worry about fires now too. My son had to be evacuated last week after a combine harvester struck a flint stone and caused a fire that gobbled up fifteen acres.

But still there are areas of the garden which are delighting me. My waterers have kept all the new planting in my new project well watered and healthy and this area will have its own post soon. And the Mediterranean garden looks great, although even here there is a dead eryngium which baffles me. I have been to the Cap Ferret peninsula recently and seen eryngiums growing  and flourishing on the dunes in pure dry sand.

Eryngium in dunes, Cap Ferret, France


The Mediterranean Garden.

So let’s start with sea hollies or eryngiums. I love them for the  sheen on their silvery, spiky leaves and some of them have metallic blue flowers too. This one has lovely variegated foliage but even better is the startling colour of the flowers and stems.

Eryngium x tripartitum ‘Jade Frost.

The next one has larger flowers and is perfect for the effect I am looking for in the Mediterranean garden which is lots of form and texture.

Eryngium zabellii ‘Big Blue’

Eryngium planum

Also in the Mediterranean garden and making quite a splash of colour I have the verbascum which is such a feature of Great Dixter. It is one found by Christo and Fergus Garrett, the head gardener in Eastern Turkey. It is called Verbascum chaixii ‘Christo’s Yellow Lightening’. I love it because it doesn’t seem to get the awful mildewed leaves which usually hang limply and unattractively on large verbascums and remind me of damp blotting paper. It does get covered by catterpillars of the Mullein moth in early summer but  I pick them off for the few days when they seem to be active and the damage isn’t too bad.

Verbascum chaixii ‘Christo’s Yellow Lightening’

I love it with the tall Agastache ‘Purple Haze’.

Agastache ‘Purple Haze’

And backed with the giant grass, Stipa gigantea, purple Verbena bonariensis, the huge umbellifer Molospermum decipens and the dainty pink flowers of Althaea cannabina.

My ‘beach’ in front of the shed is looking good right now. The orange sea poppy is still blooming happily and now my seed -grown agapanthus are coming into bloom.

So I will pick agapanthus as my number three July bloom. I grew a lot from seed, the first two are the parents which were a gift from a friend who is a keen agapanthus breeder.

And here are the children. Large flowered agapanthus aren’t reliably hardy but these came through two winters cosily wrapped up in fleece.

And we have lovely white ones too.

The parent of this small white one was a gift from a friend. I am particularly pleased with it because it is tinged with pink which I have never seen before in an agapanthus.

When everything looks dried up and brown then pure white flowers are cheering. Romneya coulteri is a pernickety plant, it doesn’t like being moved and sometimes it will turn up its tail and die. But if it is happy, it races around and takes over. We were alarmed earlier this year to find it had somehow burrowed its way into the house and a piece appeared in the library. But it is so pretty, it has silvery foliage and pure white flowers with a yellow boss

Romneya coulteri

I always try to pick one or two unusual flowers for my top ten blooms so that you can see some plants you perhaps don’t know that  you might like to try. One of these is another pure white flower which is in bloom now. It is a climbing plant, Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himel Snow’. It dies down to tubers in the autumn and these can then be split up. I have some in a pot but I also have a few round the garden too. It has pristine star-shaped flowers and is an absolute gem.

Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himel Snow’

Another beauty in a pot grows from a tuber, or is it a rhizome? It is the unusual Sandersonia aurantica. It comes from South Africa and I love it because I adore bell shaped flowers and these are bright orange.

Sandersonia aurantica

I do like orange flowers and this next mallow-like flower is very pretty. Sphaeralcea incana is actually coral rather than orange. It is a shrubby plant with silvery foliage. It is a perfect match with a coral  Kniphofia ‘Timothy’ and the golden seed heads of Stipa gigantea look good with it too.

Sphaeralcea incana with Kniphofia ‘Timothy’ and Stipa gigantea

I also grow it in the Mediterranean garden with terracotta Achillea ‘Walter Funcke’ and Bulbine frutescens which I found in Normandy last year growing on a roundabout.  I just had to have a tiny scrap of it. Alright, I am shameless, but I did risk life and limb and possibly imprisonment for it, but it matches beautifully. Actually, you perhaps don’t go to goal for nicking cuttings off a roundabout in France, but still I could have got shouted at by a gendarme.

Bulbine frutescens

I have to include some fragrant flowers for July. My early lilies get wrecked by lily beetle despite my best and most murderous efforts to keep them under control. But the later flowering tall -growing lilies have tougher leaves and are not so difficult to keep pest free. They smell divine in my secret garden. Lily ‘Lady Alice’ is white and orange with brown spots, some of the flowers are reflexed. It is so pretty.

Lily ‘Lady Alice’

I am also very keen on Lily ‘Late Morning’ which is cream and yellow.

Lily ‘late Morning’

I don’t know who Leslie Woodriff was but this next one is a fabulous lily and is always so healthy and hu-u-u-ge.

Lily ‘Leslie Woodriff’

On the trellis behind Leslie is a trachelospermum which is contributing to the heavenly fragrance in the secret garden. I also grow one on the house wall by French window so that we can enjoy the fragrance even when we go inside, which isn’t very often this summer.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

I love campanulas and I will finish with a bizarre one.

Campanula pyramidalis

I grew it from seed and at three years old it is blooming for the first time. It the Chimney Bell Flower, Campanula pyramidalis. I first saw this used as pot plant, in fact a chimney plant, at Great Dixter years ago. It is supposed to be perennial but as it puts in so much effort to grow very tall I don’t expect it to survive for another year. It is enormous at 210 centimetres tall.

I have another one with two shoots which is not so tall.

If you are thinking ‘What no dahlias? ‘ I do have dahlias, lots of them but I will save them for August. Right now, I have some watering to do. I am so sick of the Sisyphus-like task of endless watering. I expect you are too. But still one would like to have some remnants of a garden left in the autumn.

If you have managed to save ten or just one or two special July blooms from total desiccation, it would be lovely to see them. Please share them and link to my blog.

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41 Responses to My Top Ten July Blooms.

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Have I been missing your posts, or were you not posting while away?
    Sea holly has been a popular topic recently. I thought I wrote about something special, but it is not special when so many do the same thing. Everyone else has more compelling pictures, with more variation of color.
    Lily-of-the-Nile is so common here that we do not think much of it. I still dig it, particularly the old classic big blue and big white ones. The pale blue are nice too, but not as classic. The purple ones are weird.

  2. Pingback: Hot July Blooms | Rambling in the Garden

  3. snowbird says:

    I had to google sere…a new word to me, but how very apt! My garden is sere too…sighs…I have given up on watering, it doesn’t help in sandy soil! Oh goodness, that fire sounds horrendous, there have been lots aroundhere too, even on Ainsdale and Formby beaches. I just loved all your blooms, especially that campanula and the agapanthus. You had me howling laughing re the plant popping up through the library floor and nicking cuttings from roundabouts in France….what ARE you like!!!!

    • Chloris says:

      And today, I noticed that there is new romneya shoot in the library. I love plants but this is ridiculous.
      You are right I was appalled at myself nicking that cutting but I had never come across Bulbine before and it is so pretty.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Fabulous and unusual blooms! I love your orange sea poppies/agapanthus combo and your lilies are to die for. Your garden is looking lovely, Chloris!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Eliza, but quite a lot of the garden is looking dried out and tired. Still I should be glad that there is still plenty to enjoy.

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Loved seeing your top ten, many of which I can grow in my garden which is sere every summer! I think eryngiums are fabulous plants: such interestingly shaped flowers and leaves- your Jade Frost especially so. Your Mediterranean garden is obviously very happy with the current climate in the UK.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jane, if this sort of summer is going to be a pattern perhaps I will be able to grow some of the beauties I have seen on your blog.

  6. We have your missing rain in South Carolina! Someone must have snatched it and smuggled into their bag when we were visiting East Anglia last month. I watched another downpour from the porch this afternoon, which is a lovely thing to do when you are not too busy. The mosquitoes, however, are horrendous. Even without rain, you have extraordinary blooms. Lady Alice is quite striking and Christo’s Yellow Lightening with Purple Haze is simply divine.

    • Chloris says:

      Well in that case, give it back! Mosquitos must be awful but I am sick of watering for hours each day. I am thrilled with Verbascum ‘Christo’s Yellow Lightening’. It is blooming for the first time. Unfortunately it is not long lived.

  7. rusty duck says:

    If it’s any consolation at all Devon is also desiccated. Most unusual. I even have an eryngium in bloom and that really is remarkable. And lavender! Six! Crikey, I could have a Mediterranean garden yet. Oh who am I kidding. I shall just continue to lust over yours.

    • Chloris says:

      I heard from Gill that there was rain in Devon today, you are obviously getting your rain dance right. Lavenders might be a problem but you can grow lovely agaves and things that are too tender for our winters.

  8. Kris P says:

    I’m sorry to hear that your drought continues. While rain isn’t normal here except during the winter months, we had precious little of that this past winter and we’re dry as dust. A nuclear heatwave in early July made things far worse – temperatures of 110F (43C) were not something even the forecasters expected and isn’t something I’ve ever experienced before (and I grew up in one of Southern California’s hotter inland valleys). That said, I find it almost more frightening that the UK is experiencing similarly godforsaken weather conditions.

    You still have a lovely collection of blooms. I smiled as I paged through your post as so many of the plants you featured are familiar to me. While I’ve repeatedly failed in growing Eryngium and Glaucium, I grow Agastache, Agapanthus, Romneya, Sphaeralcea (ambigua rather than incana), Bulbine and Trachelospermum. Despite the cosmic heat blast, blooms were still relatively plentiful here mid-month but there are fewer now so I won’t try joining you with my own top 10 this month. I’ll join in August if the upcoming heatwave doesn’t double the damage inflicted on July 6th.

    I’ve fingers crossed that you get a good rainstorm soon.

    • Chloris says:

      I have been thinking of you Kris as I know lack of rain is a constant problem for you. And my goodness, what high temperatures. And yet your garden looks superb and you grow such an amazing range of plants. I don’t know how you manage it. A few weeks of drought and I am running around like a headless chicken trying to keep everything watered.

  9. Heyjude says:

    Your Mediterranean garden is a joy to behold. I have also seen eryngiums “growing and flourishing on the dunes in pure dry sand” in the towans at Holywell beach this week. They were stunning! I have planted some in my garden (not this type) and they are in bud so I am hoping for some blue stuff eventually! Like Jessica, my soil is really not suitable for the Mediterranean plants that I lust over.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you, I am pleased with how my Mediterranean garden has turned out. It is too hot to sit there at the moment. Even the lavenders are looking a bit stressed.
      We always want what we can’t grow. My niece lives in Cornwall and I am jealous of her amazing agaves.

  10. Weather notwithstanding, your garden always has beautiful flowers and foliage to show. And agapanthus is one of my all-time favourites. Pity it’s not a perennial in S. Ontario.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cynthia, you say the nicest things. I love agapanthus too. The large flowered ones are a bit tender as the leaves don’t die down in winter. I have managed to keep them by wrapping them up.

  11. Plants are a persnickety lot! I have the very same Bulbine in my garden (I bought mine) but couldn’t hope to match your Agapanthus or Lilies. We are in a similar drought situation here. Sending watery thoughts your way.

    • Chloris says:

      The bulbine is so pretty, it was new to me when I saw it in Normandy last year, that’s why I succumbed to crime. I am sure you wouldn’t have disgraced yourself like that.
      Glad you have had some rain at last. If this weather goes on I shall be growing heliconas like you.

  12. Wow even with no rain your garden appears spectacular….so many plants you’d never see around here. I think my favourites here is the little orange bell one. Beautiful!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Chris. Parts of my garden are looking fine but the areas where I haven’t watered are looking very stressed. The orange Sandersonia is lovely in a pot.

  13. Cathy says:

    Sorry I didn’t have time to add my link at the sam time as I posted my July blooms – bedtime was already later than it should have been … 😦 Your Mediterranean garden is an absolute delight and what vision you had in creating it – all I can do is just stuff things in my borders which sometimes look OK….sigh. And I wonder if eryngiums would have been happy here this year as they have never survived up to now…? How long did your agapanthus take to flower? Mine are still 1st year seedlings but have grown well so could I be hopeful for next year? Glad you enjoyed your holiday and that at least some of your garden is, with the help of your waterers, coping with this endless dry period. My post, which you have seen, is at

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy, what a lovely thing to say, I am thrilled with my Mediterranean garden, it is looking good right now. Unfortunately, it is too hot to sit in it. Eryngiums usually do well here and thy don’t mind being dry.
      Most of my agapanthus took three or even 4 years to flower, although I did get a couple of blooms the second year.
      Thanks for joining and sharing your July favourites.

  14. Christina says:

    I understand all about drought in the garden and here the temperatures can easily be 10 degrees more than it has been in the UK, which makes even the drought tolerant plants look very stressed. Your Mediterranean garden is looking fabulous, you must be delighted.

    • Chloris says:

      I know Christina, I have sympathised with you in the past, but until now I never really understood what it was like. It has been 31 today and I can’t imagine how you and your plants cope with it even hotter. I was surprised to see a cistus had died and even the lavenders look stressed.

  15. bittster says:

    Wonderful plants as usual, nice to see those big healthy lilies!
    I hope your heat and drought break before autumn. Your weather is starting to look a lot more like the nonsense we usually have to put up with over here.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Frank. Yes, I am pleased with my lilies, specially as I have to fight the lily beetles for them. Do you get drought each summer? Yet your late summer garden always looks wonderful, how do you manage it?

      • bittster says:

        We had a string of very dry summers previous to last summer. This and last have been remarkably wet though, and excellent for late summer growth and color!

  16. You were wise to include some drought-resistant plants in your garden. I’m sorry you’re experiencing such a difficult drought. I do love the Verbascum and Agastache, and the Lilies. Also, I didn’t realize that Agapanthus was a plant that did well in xeric conditions. Your ‘Late Morning’ reminds me of ‘Conca d’Or’.

  17. Oh I think that I would opt for stamp collecting over train spotting because you could still look at pictures of plants and trees. What a summer it’s been and I can’t imagine how dry and hot it must have been in your neck of the woods. It’s rather ironic though that we will be faced with a hosepipe ban in here the north west from next weekend. I would love to park up a deckchair on your beach area and sit with a cool drink and a good book. Fabulous blooms as always Chloris. You never cease to amaze me with what grows in your garden 🙂

  18. mrsdaffodil says:

    It’s very hot and dry here, as well. I’m watering things in pots twice a day. Romneya got into your house? Into the library? I knew it could be invasive, but that really takes the cake. Do you think you’ll be able to eradicate it? I’m always impressed by the variety of plants in your garden. Just to name one, the Eryngium in several varieties is charming.

  19. Brian Skeys says:

    Your side of the country has experienced some of the highest temperatures Chloris, even so you do still have some beautiful flowers to share with us. I would be interested to know, how long the agapanthus were from seed to flowering?

  20. Chloris says:

    We have had some rain at last Brian. Some of the agapanthus bloomed after 3 years, the rest took 4 years.

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