This is going to be my last monthly Top Ten Bloom post. I have been doing it for several years now and it is getting to be a bit repetitive. Right now I would rather be writing about my Mediterranean garden or my Henri Rousseau garden or beautiful foliage. The other problem is that sometimes at the beginning of the month there is something stunning that I would like to write about and then by the 23rd it is past its best and so I never do get round to it.
Anyway, I shall try and avoid plants I have mentioned in previous posts, I don’t want to repeat myself year after year. And I shall keep this short; I won’t be rambling today or sneakily fitting in far more than ten blooms as I usually do because I am writing with only one functional eye. The other is black and blue and swollen after coming off worse in an argument with a vicious, pointy branch of silver birch, Betula allbosinensis ‘Pink Champagne’. Actually, it wasn’t an argument, it was an unprovoked attack.
I love daisies of any kind so this is where I shall start. Echinaca purpurea is reliable and the clumps get bigger every year. It seeds around too.
I’m only at number one and all ready I am popping in a few extra blooms. This year I broke my rule of not buying any fancy new echinacea hybrids because so far they have never survived to see another year. But I couldn’t resist ‘Tomato Soup’.
And then this one with a topknot caught my eye; ‘Eccentric’ is a good name for it.
And then as I was really getting into buying echinaceas I thought I would throw in this pale pink one too. I have hardly bought any plants during this plague year so a little over-indulgence in echinaceas of doubtful hardiness is allowable.
I love rudbeckias too and usually I grow some from seed but this year I didn’t get round to it so I bought one. It has the ridiculous name of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Happy Smiley’. I nearly gave it a miss because of its ridiculous name but it is so pretty. You can also get ‘Laughing Smiley’ or ‘Giggling Smiley’ if you can bear to possess plants with such silly names.
I persist in growing hostas despite the constant battle with slugs and snails. But if I ever gave them up I would always keep Hosta plantaginea or one of its family because the flowers are so pretty and most importantly they have a delicious scent. I have Hosta ‘Guacamole’ in a cast iron urn so it never gets attacked by slugs and I pick the flowers because they make the room smell lovely. This gorgeous hosta is a sport of ‘Fragrant Bouquet’. It has shiny, apple- green leaves streaked with dark green so it is pretty all summer long, but it is the fragrant flowers that I grow it for.
Each year I grow a few different cosmos, they are so quick and easy from seed and they are lovely for cutting. This year my favourite is Cosmos ‘Cupcakes Blush’. I love the shape of the flowers and the pinked edges to the petals.
But I also like the ruffled flowers of Cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberries’.
I seem to be straying into more than one for each bloom, so for the rest of my August selection I will confine myself to just one. It is a shame to miss out Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ or ‘Limpopo’ and ‘Hellfire’ or dainty ‘ Golden Ballerina,’ but never mind I can show you another time. Today I am featuring Crocosmia’ Fire King’ because it was a new one last year. It looks lovely with the jolly French Marigolds ‘Flamenco’. I think these are rather fun, I might put some in a pot next year. How times change, a few years I would have been appalled at the idea of growing French Marigolds. Now my Henri Rousseau garden has opened me up to a whole new world of colour.
Nearby I have a little species dahlia called ‘Dark Desire’ which looks good with the stripey Tagetes patula ‘Jolly Jester.’ on the right there are the orange pouches of Calceolaria ‘Kentish Hero’
Whoops, I’m digressing again. Back to the crocosmia which is contributing to the bonfire effect in my exotic garden,
I love white bell- shaped flowers and I love white flowers and Galtonia candicans ticks both boxes. It is a bulbous perennial and as it produces plenty of seeds it is easy to grow on and I always have some to give away or put in a pot. I also grow a green- flowered one called Galtonia viridiflora.
If your idea of gladiolus is the large- flowered, (dare we say vulgar) flowers that Dame Edna Everage used to pelt her audience with, then I think that the elegant Gladiolus ‘Papilio Ruby’ will astonish you with its sophisticated charm. It grows in my gravel garden and I hope it will survive the winter, I am not quite sure of its hardiness.
I love the pixie cap flowers of the climbing plant, Codonopsis lanceolata which is happy with a couple of bamboo sticks to scale. It dies back each year after flowering. I grow it in pots although I have found that it survives outside in my gravel garden too. It has delightful bell -shaped green flowers which are marked with rusty purple inside. I believe the roots of these plants are eaten in their native Korea and they have medicinal properties. But I’ll stick with carrots. This plant produces plenty of seed so you never need be without it.
I have another codonopsis with pure white flowers called Codonopsis greywilsonii ‘Himel Snow’ which blooms a little earlier in July.
I shall finish with my Chaste Tree, Vitex agnus- casti. Last year I saw this growing wild around the ancient site of Mystras overlooking Sparta in Greece. We should be going there next week but this year I shall just have to enjoy it in the garden instead. The Ancient Greeks grew it round temples because they thought it helped to keep women chaste whilst they were in frenzied worship during rituals celebrating their virgin goddess, Artemis. Pliny wrote of them ‘They made their pallets and beds with the leaves thereof to cool the heat of their lust’. Centuries later, I believe monks made tea from leaves of the plant for the same purpose. Nowadays, it is a useful plant for late summer blooms. Like Hibiscus syriacus, it comes into leaf late in the year. I am told the leaves are similar to those of cannabis. I have never seen cannabis growing but I have seen it recommended as a handsome foliage plants in old gardening books. I am not very keen on buddleia but although the flower spikes of this are similar, I think it is much more attractive.
So there we have ten August blooms with just a few digressions. It could be worse, if I hadn’t got a black eye I should probably have gone off at a total tangent into the cult of Artemis in the Peloponnese which I find fascinating. And there would be more flowers. As it is I am saving my beloved dahlias for another post and here are a few more in a gallery.
So that is the last of my Top Ten Blooms. It would be lovely if you would share some of your August favourites.
From now on each month I shall feature either whatever is looking good in the greenhouse or I shall choose something a bit rare or unusual. I haven’t quite decided which. I would appreciate a little input, which would you prefer; monthly greenhouse plants or something unusual?