Tag Archives: Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’

Sir Harold Hillier garden revisited

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Back in February I visited the stunning 4 acre winter gardens at the Sir Harold Hillier gardens in Hampshire, and at that time vowed to return to see the Centenary Borders looking rather better than they were then:IMG_0446

Fast forward six months and they were absolutely magnificent.  At over 250 metres long, they’re the longest double borders in the UK and comprise over 30,000 plants.  The aerial photo below is from the garden’s website and shows the incredible scale of the endeavour.Pond

The planting was all still looking fresh and vigorous which I think is impressive as we head to late August.IMG_8341

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And there were some lovely plant combinations like the salvia and perovskia with the dahlia IMG_8292

and the amaranthus with the grass.IMG_8301

There were a couple of similarly coloured sedums, Sedum ‘Marchants Best Red’ andIMG_8304

Sedum Red Cauli.  I particularly like this latter one and wonder whether I might find room for it in the Mid Century Bed.IMG_8299

Whilst many of the agapanthus in the borders were finished, this incredibly dark one, Agapanthus Black Magic was still in perfect condition and really striking.  It’s so dark it was actually quite hard to photograph and you’d have to be very careful where you placed it to provide a contrasting background. IMG_8338

And back to the dark red theme, there were a number of these Ricinus at over a metre tall.  I grew Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’ from seed earlier in the year and now have four or five in 9cm pots. The question is what on earth am I going to do with them now?  Whilst one might look good in the new Mid Century bed, sadly I don’t have 250m of double borders to fill, so don’t really think I’ve got the space for them. Perhaps Hilliers would like a couple more?

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From the Centenary Borders we walked on to Jermyn’s House, the previous residence of the Hillier family, the site of February’s lovely snowdrop display, and most importantly the location for my coffee and cake stop.

However, it wasn’t the cake that stopped me in my tracks, but the fabulous planting against the house.  IMG_8313

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It was absolutely stunning.  Many of the flowers I’d grown either this year or in the past (Nicotiana Lime Green, Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy, Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’) but they’d also succeeded with Zinnia Queen Red Lime (the one Zinnia I failed with this year) and brought them all together to produce a bold, brilliant whole.   One of my favourite borders EVER!

I definitely predict some Jermyn’s House inspired revisions to my Bronze Bed next year. IMG_8314

And to finish, one plant I didn’t know, this gorgeous, simple dahlia.  I was so struck with it I asked a member of staff what it was and she confessed it was a ‘rogue’ – not the dahlia they’d ordered and so she couldn’t identify it.

However, she explained that it had been bought from a local supplier, and that let to a whole new adventure….IMG_8327

Annual round up

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After a weekend of leaf collecting, veg patch dismantling and (tardy) bulb planting, I thought I’d hark back to sunnier, summery times and give a review of some of the annuals I’ve grown from seed this year.

All the seeds mentioned here were from Sarah Raven, except The Aster chinensis Hulk, which I think was Thompson and Morgan.

Above and below is the gorgeous marigold, Calendula offiinalis ‘Sunset Buff’.  IMG_3378

As well as the ‘Sunset Buff’, I grew Calendula ‘Neon.’  I’ve never grown calendula before, but I have to say I love these two.

I’ve been lucky enough to grow them either in my raised cutting beds, or my borrowed neighbours’ garden, as I would struggle to fit these colours into my rather pink scheme.

With regard to their use for cutting (the main reason I was growing them), they have been good, but I’ve struggled to get very long stems and also struggled with mildew later in the season. They were only planted in March, so I’ve planted some seed this autumn, in the hope of having more established plants earlier on next year.

Another orange plant grown in my ‘borrowed’ garden has been provided by my Tithonia, Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.  This has been incredibly prolific this year with the blooms making such a cheerful, bold statement.  I do love this plant but wonder where I’ll be able to grow it next year as it does reach quite a height and spread and, as mentioned before, orange isn’t always the easiest colour to include in a planting scheme.  I do have plans for a new orangey/bronzey themed bed, but the Tithonia would be too tall.  

A genus I’ve grown lots of before is Cosmos, but this year as well as the lovely Comos ‘Purity’, so prolific and so, well ‘pure’ (clue’s in the name…)

I also grew Cosmos ‘Psyche White’. These are very similar to ‘Purity’, but have semi double flowers, which are like a fun mutation of ‘Purity’.

As well as the whites, I grew three pinks, Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, which is quite well known but was new to me and was good, but to my mind not as good asIMG_3776 - Copy - Copy

Cosmos ‘Click Cranberries’.  These very double flower heads were fabulous, and in such a stunning pink (it look wonderful contrasted with the Tithonia).  However, one problem was that sometimes the flower heads were so heavy they didn’t stand up in the vase as well as the singles.

The last Cosmos was C. Rubenza.  I do like the rather unusual colour which fades as the plant ages to a very dusky pink, but this one is shorter than the rest and therefore impossible to get really long flowers for cutting, if that’s what you’re after.

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I grew a couple of sunflowers – Helianthus ‘Valentine’ which was an attractive soft yellow and had realtively small blooms making them good for cutting.  Sadly, all my seedlings got eaten by slugs except one, so there weren’t many blooms to cut.  (I heard Sarah Raven suggest that it was as prolific as Cosmos but can’t say I found that with mine).

The second was Helianthus Claret.  I found these rather variable – you can see that the first picture shows the deep ‘wine-red’ colour I was expecting, whereas the next two don’t.  Although they were quite fun, and pretty prolific for cutting, I found it hard to put them with other blooms and didn’t particularly like just a vase of sunflowers.  I don’t think I’d grow them again.

Another plant I don’t think I’d grow again are Cleomes.  I rather like their spidery heads but I found them quite hard to arrange as cut flowers and certainly didn’t appreciate (or expect) their vicious thorns.  Ouch!

Something I would definitely grow more of are Zinnias.  They had a wonderfully productive year this year as it was warm and sunny, just how they like it, and they grow with long straight stems and last well in the vase.  I grew Zinnia ‘Genoa Mix’IMG_5362

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and Zinnia ‘Envy’.

Another favourite is Salvia Viridis Blue.  Although not that tall, I love the form with the wonderfully coloured flower bracts.  This is still going strong in the garden in November, as are

the Nasturtium Black Velvet.  These had a bad patch in high summer, but are flowering wonderfully now.  The stems are very short for cutting, but make lovely posies and are, of course, good picked and sprinkled on salads as they are edible.

This Malope, Malope trifida Vulcan, I hadn’t grown for years, but it did really well for me this year.  The petals have a beautiful silk like texture, which is gorgeous, but they can get easily bruised when cutting and arranging, so you do need to take extra care.

This Rudbeckia, Rudbekia ‘Cherry Brandy’ has also been great and was used in my ‘In a vase on Monday’ post on November 10th, as it was still going strong.

A couple more flowers I haven’t grown from seed since I had my allotment in London – Antirrhinum ‘White Giant

and A. ‘Liberty Crimson’

I loved arranging with both of these as they provided fabulous vertical accents.

To finish, my ‘greens’.  The first one, an annual aster, was supposed to be Aster chinensis ‘Hulk’, but goodness knows what it is instead.  I do rather like it though!

Secondly, Ammi visnaga white.  I grew this instead of the more common Ammi majus, but I think it was a mistake.   I found the flower heads were very dense and not so easy to mix with other plants.  It did look lovely in simple arrangements, for example with the white Cosmos, however.

My Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’, was an absolute revelation.  Lots and lots of fresh green cutting material, with funky long (sometimes very long!) green tassels.IMG_3775

And to finish, one of my favourite blooms of any colour – Molucella laevis, or Bells of Ireland.  I just love the form of this flower and for the first time ever got good germination rates and managed to grow some pretty tall blooms.  OK, not the two foot ones you get in the florists, but then I probably wasn’t as assiduous with my staking as I should have been, and they were never going to grow that tall along the ground!

Of course the other things I grew plenty of from seed this year were sweet peas, but I think I’ve gone on long enough.  You can read about my sweet peas here.

I would love to hear about your favourite annuals.  Do you like mine?  Know better?  Tell me!

End of month view – September 2014

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The trouble with going somewhere as amazing as West Dean (see my last post) is that your own garden can’t help but suffer by comparison.  But, having said that, it’s always good to see fabulous gardens as they hopefully inspire us to do better.

Like West Dean, I do have some Asters, including this inherited one which is very tall and has flopped badly, but still makes a wonderful showIMG_5050

but this one, Aster Frikartii Monch, in the left hand Swing Bed, is much better.  It’s still a little floppy, but a better colour and a much bigger flower.  I love the way it goes with the Verbena bonariensis.  (I think the colour is a better match in real life than in the photo).IMG_5046

In the right hand Swing Bed, you can see the matching Aster as well as the out of control Rosa Snow Goose.  I think a ladder and a pair of gaunlets is called for.IMG_5048

On the posts either side of the swing the rose Rosa St Swithun is having a lovely second flush.  I really need to tie these branches in too, but think I’ll leave it until they’ve finished flowering now.

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The Grass Bed is looking a little better now that the Nasturtiums have recovered from the drought.  I like the colour combination of the orange of both the Nasturtium and the Fox and Cubs with the purple Salvia, but this bed still desperately needs a good sort out.

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In the veg patch, likewise, the runner and french beans have all recovered from the drought and are cropping well.  However the Pumpkin Munchkins have finished and need to be brought in.  Some of the courgettes are still going strong, but nearly all have succumbed to mildew.IMG_5045

By the conservatory the (inherited) Nerines are coming into flower.  They always strike me as a rather incongruous plant for this time of year, but at least they add some colour.IMG_5038

In the greenhouse, as well as lots of tomatoes (yum),IMG_5060

and Cucamelons (not so yum!)IMG_5056

I’ve finally got peppers, both the long pointy red ones (well they will be one day)

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as well as some rather sweet little orange onesIMG_5059

Many pots are still going strong, but most won’t survive the winter and so will have to be moved into the greenhouse – never a trivial task!IMG_5040

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And to finish, a quick catch up of my ‘borrowed’ garden.  The Tithonia and Sunflowers featured last month continue to bloom their golden socks offIMG_5071

but the real development is a bed I created underneath the hornbeams we pleached earlier in the year (see part 1 and Part 2).  The hornbeams need a bit of a hair cut now, but have taken really well and I’m looking forward to seeing the blossom in the spring.

Again, like the Tithonia and Sunflowers, all the flowers here are annuals, but this time on a pink theme including Cleomes and Cosmos as well as the greens of Molucella and Amaranthus.  It really is amazing what you can achieve in one season with a few hands full of annual seeds!IMG_5066

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With many thanks, as ever, to Helen at the Patient Gardener,  for hosting everyone’s End of Month views.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – June 2014

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Well, it all happens in June.  In addition to an my wedding anniversary last week, this week I had a big birthday, and to cheer myself up I requested a macro lens as my present.  And what a toy!  My first foray into the world of macro photography was Wordless Wednesday’s Allium Hair, and today I’ve had great fun getting up close and personal with my June blooms.

In the interests of keeping this to a manageable length, I’ve decided this month’s edit should only include either plants I’ve grown from seed, or blooms bearing a ‘bug’.  So I’ve started with my beautiful, soft pink Astrantia Roma, together with visiting bee.

Next my sweet peas.  I’m growing more and more each year, and this year they’re all along the back of the Swing Beds, in pots by the front door and in the veg plot.  I’m really only interested in flowers with scent, and this year chose MatucanaIMG_3391

Lord NelsonIMG_3377

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As well as four more from mixes from English Sweet Peas – ‘Fresh Air Mix‘ and ‘Parfumiere Mix‘.  Unfortunately I don’t know the names of the individual varietiesIMG_3342 - Copy

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As well as sweet peas, I’m growing a lot of other annuals for cutting, including Cosmos Rubenza (a little short for cutting but I love the slightly smoky pink)IMG_3338 - Copy

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and Click Cranberries.IMG_3366

A couple of ‘greens’, Molucella laevis and Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’

A couple of oranges, Helianthus ClaretIMG_3386

and Calendula Bronze BeautyIMG_3379 (3)

and a couple sown last year – Digitalis Camelot CreamIMG_3369

and Knautia macedonica

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And to finish, another bug.  I think this is the caterpillar of the Rusty Tussock Moth, Orgyia antiqua, chewing a hole in my rose bud.  Sigh.IMG_3309 (3)

With thanks again to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting the GBBD meme.