Chloris is once again sharing her top 10 plants of the month (always worth a look as she has such an interesting collection) in a meme that encourages others to look around their plots and do the same. So I’ve been outside to make a list.
As I was wandering around the garden I realised that I was looking up a lot. It seems that I like giants.
My first ‘favourite’ is fittingly called Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate, it is so tall. (Next year I must remember to plant some behind the gate). It is a Persicaria:
1 Persicaria orientalis
I discovered this plant a couple of years ago whilst browsing Derry Watkins‘ catalogue and couldn’t resist trying the seeds. What surprised me though was the height that the plant will reach if it is happy (typically 2.5m). Its pink flowers look brilliant against a blue sky. This year I have a few self-seeds, so that’s been a bonus because they rapidly turned into sturdy, tall plants that flowered quite early (beginning of August cf. September).
2 Amaranthus ‘Red Army’
This photo is one of my ‘Red Army’ in the walled garden at Wimpole. It has reached at least 9ft in height. Elsewhere it is more typically growing to a bit over a metre. A. ‘Red Army’ is a great colour right from its seedling stage (like red orach) and once it starts flowering it just looks better and better as those velvet spikes develop.
3 Nicotiana mutabilis
This is the first year that I have grown this nicotiana, but I will be repeating that for the foreseeable future. It has a lovely airy, branching habit and the flowers look so pretty in their various shades of pink. The plants are tall again (over a metre), although not as large as N. sylvestris.
4 Sunflower ‘Earthwalker’
I love most sunflowers, but Helianthus ‘Earthwalker’ presses all of the right buttons for me. Some of the self-seeds this year are showing an attractive narrow, yellow corona at the edge of the inner florets. Earthwalker is multiheaded and a nice viewable height (up to 3m).
5 Miscanthus sinensis
What a wonderful grass! This is Miscanthus sinensis (~2m). Its silhouette against clear skies is just marvellous and it has great autumn colour too as the temperatures start to drop. I am starting to experiment with slight shorter cultivars for growing in pots (see Kate’s helpful post for more advice and ideas on dwarf cultivars), but this one is one of the best grasses out there IMHO.
6 Salvia uliginosa
Blue is a nice colour to have late in the season and Salvia uliginosa has the most beautifully clear blue flowers. The flowers are usually covered by bees, but this photo was taken on a fairly miserable day, so there was not much buzzing around. The flower spikes are wiry and quite tall. I’ve grown it between Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and they are the same height (~2m). In a gentle breeze they dance and mingle obligingly.
7 Symphyotrichum novae–angliae
I have grown to like asters (OK not all, I still don’t like the shaggy, summer bedding kind at all). I grow the vibrant pink Symphyotrichum novae–angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke‘, but I prefer this purple variety. Unfortunately I don’t know it’s name. It grows to ~4ft, so is typically a mid/back of the border plant.
OK, that’s enough tall plants, I will finish with three shorties!
8 Cyclamen hederifolium
I’ve got autumn flowering cyclamen planted in patches all over the dry and shady front garden and around the bases of various trees. They look particularly lovely in front of my multi-stemmed Betula utilis Jacquemontii. I am always surprised when I spot them for the first time each year (not sure why, but I forget that they are there). They smell delicious too. Last week, when I visited Anglesey Abbey for their Dahlia Festival, I walked through their cyclamen ‘Grove’ (the copse at the end of the Winter Walk) and the scent was out of this world.
This is Nerine Bowdenii ‘Isabel’ and I think it is so pretty. Once again nerine are something that I have grown to like. Ten years ago I would have been wondering why anybody would plant anything so strident by their front door! Age or taste or something else? Whatever, I am happily expanding my collection now … but I do have nice white ones too.
Sedum has to be in the list for September, because it is such a great plant for autumn colour, longevity and as a nectar resource to a whole host of insects. This one (the classic Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’) was being visited last week by a migrating Painted Lady butterfly. The sighting was duly recorded in the Butterfly Conservation’s Migrant Watch database.
So that is my list of top 10 September plants. It has been interesting to note how many of these plants I’ve changed my mind about over the years. Is it the same for you?