l have been away for a while. Not to Brazil, as I suggested in my last post as a safer option than the UK, but to France to spend time with my son Bertie and his beautiful Beatrice. They no longer live on the boat, so the jetty garden has been left behind, but they have managed to buy an amazing home in south west France. They have done this in the middle of the pandemic and despite the difficulties created by Brexit. And it is beautiful, unusual and very old. The garden has enormous potential and I will be writing about it in due course.
Coming back to England was a bit of a shock. My garden has become a jungle, I have never come back from holiday in August to find so such a tangle of weeds and the lawn like a hayfield. What kind of tropical weather have you been having here? But amongst the chaos there are some beauties which are well worth putting in an appearance for Six on Saturday.
First, I have some lovely codonopsis. These are climbing plants growing from a tuberous root. I have Codonopsis lanceolata from Asia; it has pixie -bonnet flowers which are green with purple markings inside. I believe this plant has pharmaceutical properties for the treatment of various diseases. But I grow it for the exquisitely beautiful flowers.
Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himal Snow’ comes from Nepal. It has apple-green leaves and beautiful, snow-white, star-shaped flowers. I think next year I must investigate the codonopsis family further and see which other ones I could grow.
I love South African summer bulbs and I have several different forms of the lovely albuca family. There are over 100 species in this genus so there is plenty of choice. I believe they are known by the revolting name of slime lilies because they are fleshy with a mucilaginous juice. Albuca nelsonii is my largest one. It has the most enormous onion-like bulb and long stems with green and white flowers.
Albuca bracteata rejoices in the ridiculous common name of ‘Pregnant Onion’; I wish I knew who dreams these names up. It has the most delightful, starry, green and white flowers on long stems. Some members of the Albuca genus used to be included in the Ornithagalum family and you can see the resemblance.
Each year I collect seeds from the charming flowers of Albuca shawii because a pot of these in flower makes a nice gift for friends. It has nodding yellow flowers which are scented.
Most of my agapanthus are grown from seed; they are very easy to grow and bloom in the second or third year from seed. The parents are all large flowered ones. I believe Agapanthus africanus is not considered to be hardy, but mine have been outside for a few years now. I love to have them all round the garden and specially on my ‘beach’ in front of the shed.
The white ones seem to bloom a bit later and they are still in bud.
Each year I grow a few different cyclamen from seed. The labels get muddled up so I am not always sure which is which. But this summer-flowering one is Cyclamen purpurascens. I think it is probably hardy but I grow it in pots because it is beautifully fragrant, A pot in the greenhouse fills the space with scent. It is a woodland plant so I keep it under the staging in the greenhouse. I also keep a few pots on my table of delights.
Also in a pot I grow the ridiculously -named annual, Zaluzianskya capensis each year. I believe it is named after a Polish botanist. The common name is night-scented phlox but I don’t hold with common names. I don’t think it is actually a phlox at all. If you visit me in the day time you may wonder why I keep a pot of these uninspiring little buds in such a prominent position by our sitting area. They are a pretty shade of deep pink but still it looks a bit weedy. But each evening the buds open up to reveal starry white flowers which have the most gorgeous fragrance. Sometimes I bring the pot inside with me when we come indoors because I just can’t get enough of the wonderful scent. This little plant comes from South Africa. It is easy to grow, I sow it straight into the pots in which it is going to live. It’s no use having this plant down the garden somewhere, it needs to be where you sit in the evening or by a door or window so the evening scent can drift indoors. It is pollinated by moths.
I am going to finish with another plant with an amazing scent. It is my very favourite oriental lily. It is called ‘Casa Blanca’ and as well as a glorious scent, it has huge pure white flowers with huge reddish brown stamens.
So there we have six beauties well worth coming home to. And I haven’t even mentioned my dahlias which are looking wonderful, but they will be looking good until the frosts so we can come back to them. And now, having completed my six, I have no more excuse to pretend I haven’t noticed the weeds rampaging all over the garden. Please check out the Propagator to see other August beauties.