I am joining Chloris at The Blooming Garden for this post of my top ten plants for August. However, I am not actually growing anything particularly unusual this year, so I guess that there will be some flowers in common with other lists being submitted for the meme (from the UK at least). On the other hand, I am trying out several ‘new-to-me’ varieties out to discover whether some do better in my garden than my normal selections.
The first of these is Helenium ‘Helena Red Shades’.
I love Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’, but growing it in my slightly shady pots beneath the pergola it can be a bit dark and depressing, so ‘Helena Red Shades’ seemed like it could brighten things up a lot. I bought plug plants from J. Parkers, in a sale, and have been pleased with how they’ve bulked up. I am enjoying the sunshine tones they’ve added under the wisteria canopy. The mix of warm colours work well.
Next up is Eucomis:
Last year I grew Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ bulbs in the greenhouse, but having seen them used to great effect in moveable pots in gardens like Dixter and Helen Dillon’s Ranelagh garden, I’ve got them on the patio for summer this year. In May I bought another batch of bulbs to go with them (again in a sale – they see me coming), but they are proving slow to flower. It means that I’ve still got them to look forward to as these ones fade and next year I hope they will be dramatic together!
As long as I can remember I’ve grown Cosmos ‘Sensation mixed’ each summer, but the plants get very tall and brittle so I was looking out for an interesting mid-height contender. Luckily, over the last two or three years the number of named Cosmos varieties available to grow from seed has risen exponentially. I am trying ‘Xanthos’, ‘Dazzler’, ‘Daydream’ and ‘Velouette’. I had high hopes for ‘Velouette’, but it has struggled to do very much in the drought. I’ve found the plants to be reluctant flowerers and they are very short. ‘Xanthos’ is sweet, but can be a bit lost in the border and ‘Daydream’ has been slow to flower, so thank goodness for ‘Dazzler’. Wow, reliable and wonderful. I’ll not give up on the others yet, as it has been a hard year for establishing plants out in the garden without a lot of watering. Fingers-crossed for next year.
OK, I know that this is a favourite of Liz’s and has been highlighted in her top ten, but I am so pleased to see that my xAlcalthaea suffrutescens ‘Parkallee’ survived the aftermath of our fence collapse and repair job. I moved the dormant root to a pot in order to cosset it during the spring and although it dried out while we were away on holiday, it has still produced some lovely spikes with flowers opening just now. I totally agree with Liz that this is a most delightful ‘hollyhock’ and since we do suffer a lot with rust in the garden, those clean, velvety olive-green leaves are wonders in themselves.
The perennial sunflower, Helianthus x multiflorus, is always a highlight of the borders in August. It can be a bit free with its root runners and needs to be taken in hand each spring, but right now I don’t think of that at all. If you want to ensure a bit of sunshine, then this is a brilliant plant to provide it.
I love bulk standard Echinops ritro and so do the bumblebees. (It took ages to get a clear shot of this one without a pollinator!) If you look closely at the globes, the individual flowers are like little shooting stars and the whole globe is covered in ‘stardust’. It is an ‘easy’ perennial and I adore those.
I can’t say that I am a huge fan of Gladioli, but as with most plants, I’ve found a cross-section of examples of the genus that I find indispensable. In the summer, I grow and love ‘Expresso’, and ‘Black Star’, but this year one of my catalogue orders came with a free packet of 40 ‘Butterfly mixed’ Gladioli. I decided give them a chance and although the total mixture is a bit overwhelming several of the individual flowers are rather lovely. I think that I need to label them now, saving the ones that I like and plant them in better colour combinations/smaller groups for next year.
I enjoyed growing Thunbergia ‘Sunset shades’ last year and when I posted about it Brian at Brimfields.com mentioned that there was also a good looking white variety, so this season I’ve been trying Thunbergia alata ‘Susie White Black Eye’. The effect of those panda eyes is very arresting and the flowers look fresh whatever the weather. I’ve wasted it a mixed bed though. Next time I will grow them up wigwams in pots where they won’t be hidden by other plants.
No sneering please! I know I used to stick up my nose at begonias too, but I’ve come to appreciate how they shake off the weather and look continuously cheerful and bright. I especially like those with beautiful dark, marked leaves. Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’ is one such, forming slowly expanding mounds of molten lava. I have grown it in pots around the patio for the last three years and it is a great performer. It doesn’t complain if it doesn’t get watered for a few days, brilliant news for this summer. Also, for the first time I am trying Begonia ‘Million Kisses Elegance’ and it is similarly earning its place in the spotlight.
I’ll finish with the classic Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’:
Mine grow in a shady spot at the back of the small formal pond on the patio. They light up that dark patch for a good 2 months, waving wands of white dog-rose-like flowers. I leave the seed heads on to get a second fun display of puffy clouds as the seeds heads gradually expand when they are ripen.
What are your favourites of the month? Are you trying anything new this year?