You can still place an order to collect from a plant fair we are attending

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July 2012
1st July: A Fresh Eye

Its helpful to get a fresh eye to look at the garden from time to time and this weekend we've had 108 fresh pairs of eyes giving, thankfully, positive views of our garden. 

Its very refreshing when visitors notice and praise planting combinations that I had overlooked or undervalued. Here are a few noted by visitors today and yesterday.

I'd not noticed how well our multi-stemmed Snakesbark Maple (Acer davidii Serpentine) framed the planting behind it and at the moment filling the foreground of the picture is this lovely Bellflower, Campanula punctata Rubriflora. What's more the green and parchment colouring of the bark is echoed by the colour of the Campanula's buds. Totally serendipitous I assure you. 

Another chance encounter noted by a visitor is the pairing of Hemerocallis Isolde with this seedling from Salvia verticillata Purple Rain. There is such a good association between the day lily flower and the colour of the Sage's stems and bracts. The Salvia is a self sown seed so I can't claim any more credit than not having pulled it up.
I can claim credit for putting Kniphofia Drummore Apricot next to Alchemilla mollis but the harmony between the greenish buds of the poker and the flowers of the Lady's Mantle was completely unlooked for. 

It enhances so well the planned contrast with the open, orange poker flowers and Alchemilla.

A lady with a very keen eye for colour pointed this one out to me and I don't think the pearly blue flowers of Geranium Mrs Kendall Clark could be displayed to any greater effect. 

I don't know the name of the Hosta as he was bought unlabeled.

2nd July: What's in a Name?

The official names of plants sometimes change as more knowledge about their genetic makeup is discovered. 

This is the lovely pink flower of Stemmacantha centauroides just opening in our garden today. It is one of those plants whose identity keeps on changing. It has previously been called Stemmacantha rapontica and Leuzea rapontica and before that Centaurea pulchra Major.

As holders of the national collection of Centaurea we have been asked by the powers that be to include those plants that aren't currently classified in Centaurea but might be. So we now have both Stemmacantha available in the UK: this one and S.carthamoides, (which was formally Leuzea carthamoides). We also have Mantisalca salmantica which was formally called Centaurea salmantica.

We have also been asked to consider housing annual Centaurea in the collection but I'm not sure we have the space or the facilities to keep the seed produced true to type.


4th July: Love Your Bugs

This is the original Daddy Long-Legs on the a leave of Helenium Hot Luv in our garden, although the Crane Fly seems to have taken the name more recently. 

This is a Harvestman. It is named for the harvest as it is more commonly seen in August and September with fewer in other months. There are 25 species in the UK.

It is not a true spider, it doesn't spin any silk and doesn't have venom to kill its prey. 

They eat all manner of small bugs, mites, slugs, aphids. 

Apparently when threatened they secrete a foul smelling fluid to protect themselves.

6th July: Despite the Rain...

... 71 varieties of Day Lily (Hemerocallis) were in bloom in our garden today and looking fresh and vibrant. The heavy rain fell from 6am to about 6:45pm and then as if to laugh at us, the sky cleared and the sun waved goodbye to us as it slipped towards the horizon.  

Looking particularly good was Whichford (pictured here).

I also noticed that orange coloured flowers looked particularly good in the very dark, brooding weather during the rain. 

One thing to do whilst we are having this very wet weather is to make sure you keep up with your deadheading. Dead flowers hold a lot of water in the humid conditions the decaying material soon becomes a breeding ground for grey mould (botrytis) which will if left unchecked soon infect flower buds and stems. I've noticed the first signs already on the massed flowers of my Dianthus.

This is an added incentive to deadhead Day Lilies and dispose of the dead flowers which will also reduce chances of any gall midge larvae going back into the soil to start another cycle of infection next year.

7th July White Clary Sage

Our garden visitors today really liked our white clary sage (Salvia sclarea Vatican White) with its large pink-edged, green and white bracts encircling hook-shaped white flowers topping off handsome leaves.  As with all clary sages the plants don't live forever but Vatican White is definitely perennial unlike the grander Turkestanica which is definitely biennial.

8th July: Ringlet Butterfly - a First at Yew Tree House

Today I spotted this lovely Ringlet Butterfly in our garden - the first I've ever seen. Although it isn't rare, it is fond of damp grassland, something it rarely finds in our neighbourhood. Perhaps the wet weather isn't all bad?

11th July: Elephants in the Garden

Really pleased to see this incredibly coloured Elephant Hawk-Moth resting on one of garden benches this morning. To give you an idea of scale the moth is about 1 1/4" from nose to tail.  

I've never seen the adult moth before, and only once found its caterpillar; large and black and able to rear up and expand is head to look very like a miniature cobra.

I'm posting more details about this moth in our new "Nature in the Garden" section.

13th July: The Dark Side of Mrs Kendall Clark

This seedling Geranium is flowering in our garden at the moment and it looks like the love child of Victor Reiter and Mrs Kendall Clark inheriting her pearly flowers but in a darker shade of blue and his dark, purplish leaves and stems.

17th July: Get Happy!

Summer's arrived at last, my top tips on Helianthus are published in Garden News, the BBC haven't mentioned the Olympics for about 45 seconds. Happy Days indeed!

Actually this is Helianthus Happy Days, not listed in the Garden news article and just coming into flower at about 2ft 9in tall.  Its supposed to stay short but with all the rain we've had everything except my Heleniums has grown very tall this year.

Quite a bold combination with Lythrum Fire Candle isn't it?

There's a story about those Lythrum. Last year I planted them as pond marginals and lots of garden visitors said they wouldn't last and would die in the winter. Well they haven't (yet, fingers crossed, touch wood). They do grow right up to the edge of streams and rivers so they are probably quited used to having their feet in water

20th July: Bee Happy!

Today's number one bee and hoverfly favourite is our self-sown Oregano. I know that for herbal use you shouldn't them flower as the leaves are supposed to lose flavour but I just love them, almost as much as the insects.

24th July: White Perfection

Scabious White Perfection is very aptly named and positively shining as the midday sun shins through it

27th July Gaillardias - treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen.

Gaillardias are doing very well this year despite the lake of warmth and the wet weather. Along our drive Fackelschein (Torchlight) is giving a merry welcome to garden visitors. 

I'm coming to the conclusion that very poor, very dry soils are best for these plants. In the drive Fackelschein stands up well. Just across the garden, in soil enriched with garden compost he is quite floppy and sprawls a bit.

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