Tag Archives: Helianthus Claret

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.

In a vase on Monday – tangerine dream

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Another cheating ‘In a vase on Monday’ as this one was actually created on Friday to take to my sister’s new home for her birthday weekend.

Just three components, Helianthus ClaretIMG_4840

 Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’IMG_4839

and Cotinus.  I’m not sure if it’s Cotinus coggygria Royal Purple’, as it’s an inherited shrub, but it seems most likely.IMG_4841

I made the arrangement as a hand tied bunch and then tied the whole arrangement in a square of cellophane which helped to give it a slightly more professional look.

There is no doubt that I find larger arrangements exponentially harder than small ones, but I was lucky to have so many of both the sunflowers and the Tithonia to play with, and basically just kept going until I couldn’t hold any more stems in my hand.  I’m not sure that’s a recognised hand tied approach, but it worked for me!

With thanks as ever to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting all our vases.  And many happy returns, lovely sis.

Garden bloggers’ bloom day – September 2014

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Like last month I’ve used GBBD as an excuse to use my macro lens to get up close with my blooms, starting with Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ above.  The blooms are so amazingly fresh for so late in the year – verging on the virginal!

With similar shaped flowers I still have multiple varieties of Cosmos flowering:

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Click CranberriesIMG_4759

and RubenzaIMG_4729

A rather more complicated daisy flower is provided by my Zinnia ‘Giant dahlia mixed’,  It’s been a great year for Zinnias – they’ve loved the sun and heat and have been one of the few flowers to have coped with the lack of water.  And they’re just so jolly!IMG_4709

To round up some of the other annuals I’ve grown from seed this year – a couple of Cleomes IMG_4761

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Molucella laevisIMG_4762

Helianthus ‘Claret’IMG_4755

Salvia viridis ‘Blue’ (here with the increasingly invasive ‘Fox and Cubs’, Pilosella aurantiaca)IMG_4739

And a new one this year, Nicotiana ‘Black Knight’.

For some reason I don’t do that well with tobacco plants.  Whilst I’ve been successful with Sylvestris in the past, I always have difficulty with ‘Lime Green’ (which I love for cutting, so I keep trying) and didn’t have success with Mutablis when I tried it last year.  Conversely this one, which I’m really not sure about, seems to be doing ok.  Such is gardening….IMG_4772

Next a couple of shrubs flowering now – Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Heavenly Blue’, which looks lovely at this time of year with the similar coloured Asters.IMG_4735

and Anisodontea capensis.IMG_4749

And to finish, some rather more exotic blooms.  Firstly my Glory Lily, Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’.  This lives all year in the (unheated) greenhouse.IMG_4774

Next my Plumbago, which for the first time this summer I’ve brought outside and seems to be thriving, but I’ll obviously have to move it back to the greenhouse fairly soon.

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And lastly, an inherited shrub that’s planted outside, and has survived snow and frosts and yet looks very exotic.  Firstly the buds and then the flowers.  Do you think it’s some sort of Grevillea?  The leaves seem a little big for a Grevillea (they’re about 5cm long and 1.5cm wide).  But whatever it is I love it!IMG_4779

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With thanks as ever to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting GBBD.

End of month view – August 2014

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July’s End of Month View was thrown together well before the end of month, just before we left for the States, and as a conclusion I wrote “as I write this I wonder how they’ll cope with a two week absence.  Fingers crossed.”  Well sadly, the answer, despite having housesitters who were apparently watering, was very badly indeed.

We flew home overnight on the 2nd August, arriving back around lunchtime on the 3rd, but despite my sister and brother-in-law’s heroic efforts over the final few days, the damage had definitely been done.  The sight that greeted me almost reduced me to tears – no veg, few flowers (certainly no sweet peas) and very sad looking pots.  And whilst I know there are far bigger tragedies in the world, seeing six month’s worth of effort shrivelled up in front of me was pretty hard to bear.

Consequently, the month since then, has been spent vacillating between intensive garden recovery activities and sitting inside sulking.  And if I’m honest, there has been so much of the latter that my End of Month photographing this morning resulted in me looking at things I haven’t looked at for weeks, so it’s been somewhat of an eye opener for me.

So let’s share.

The left hand Swing Bed above isn’t looking too bad now – the verbena are complete stalwarts and have been joined by the lovely Aster Frikartii Monch, of which I wish I had more.  There are also salvias, nepeta and phlox, and the St Swithun rose is having a second flush.  What there isn’t, is pretty much any sign of the numerous annuals I planted, or the dahlias which I thought would do a marvellous job of providing late colour.  They have survived and are now, finally, in bud, but are still so short I’m not sure they’ll ever appear over the top of the plants in front.  We’ll see.

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The right hand Swing Bed is suffering similarly, but you can see there are some annual Cleomes towards the left of the photo, but little sign of any cosmos or the dahlias here either.

Surprisingly, the troughs have done well and I love the exuberance of the Cosmos Purity.

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Opposite the troughs, I’ve cut back the verbascums in the Grass Beds, and there’s not much to see apart from the grasses. The first year we were here I planted Cosmos in this bed and they were great.  I definitely need to rethink this bed next year. Nothing apart from the grasses and the bulbs early on really last long enough, so I think I need to find something that’s a better ‘doer’.

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On the other side of the garden, the Oak Bed I’m always so dissatisfied with is actually looking ok, largely as its shadiness has protected it from the ubiquitous shrivel!IMG_4637

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Similarly, the Shady Bed is fine, as would the Hostas be if they weren’t so painty.  But the Hydrangea Petiolaris seems to have turned its toes up.  To be honest it wasn’t doing very well anyway, so perhaps it’s a good excuse to plant something more exciting.

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Meanwhile the veg bed had a lot to contend with.  Firstly drought, but then the aftermath Hurricane Bertha, which caused a general collapse of all the bamboo structures which are now held up by strings attached to the bay tree.  This makes picking somewhat of a limbo dance – now that there is finally some more veg to pick.

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In the greenhouse, where there is a drip hose system fitted, things are looking far more promising

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The plants at the left hand end of the photo above are Cucamelons, one of James Wong’s ‘Homegrown Revolution’ suggestions.  The taste is supposed to be (funnily enough) a cross between a cucumber and a melon, however I certainly think there’s a lot more cucumber taste than melon.  The plants seem to be very leafy and not particularly productive, and the fruits are only grape sized (although pretty).  I’m not sure I’d grow it again.

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And to finish, a view which isn’t even in my garden.  This is a bed in a neighbour’s garden which I’ve commandeered for my loud orange annuals, Helianthus Claret, Tithonia and various Marigolds.  They look even zingier in the evening when they catch the west light.

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So that’s it.  And guess what?  I feel much better now and will stop sulking and get on with enjoying the rest of the gardening year.

And, having this very day delivered my son to uni, perhaps I’ll have a little more time to do it.  (Although he has taken my laptop with him, which seems to be causing a few problems on the photography quality front as I battle with an older laptop with different software.  Apologies!)

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

 

 

Garden bloggers’ bloom day – August 2014

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The garden is continuing to struggle with lack of water – particularly after our two week absence – and consequently I’ve decided to get ‘up close and personal’ for today’s GBBD, and have taken my macro lens on safari.

My first stop was a bed I’ve ‘borrowed’ from a neighbour (no, not the cutting garden, featured in last month’s GBBD, another neighbour) where I’ve planted a lot of orangey annuals – Helianthus Claret, Calendula officinalis Neon, Calendula officinalis Indian Prince and Tihonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.

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Back in my garden, I also have a couple of orange blooms.  Firstly Abutilon Orange Marion which we bought last year at the end of the summer, from a reduced stand at Wisley.  It was overwintered in the (unheated) greenhouse, and did look very sorry for itself, but was cut back hard and this year has done really well in its position in a pot on the barrow.  During the spring it had lots of little seedlings around the main stem and these have all been potted on.  I’m not entirely sure the garden needs six more orange abutilons, but how could I resist?

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And the second is unnamed as it was a gift, but it has small flowers, as you can see, raised above chive like leaves.  I have a number of these in pots after I divided the original, which are destined for the Med Beds, but like so many things, remain unplanted.IMG_4415

Away from orange, I have a number of (also unnamed) salvias flowering now

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as well as plenty of pelargoniums.  The first is dark. like Lord Bute, but doesn’t have the paler edging.  The second is a lovely dainty scented leaf variety and the third is Pelargonium Sidoides.  I love these flowers too, but I’ve found they are getting a little ‘leggy’ by this time of the year.

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And to finish, I love green flowers, and my Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevis) have been best ever this year.  IMG_4394

Unfortunately, I’m not so convinced about my so called Aster chinensis ‘Hulk.’  I don’t remember Lou Ferrigno bursting out of his shirt and turning pink, but perhaps that’s just me.

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With thanks as ever to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting GBBD.

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

Prince Edward of YorkIMG_3320 - Copy

Mrs CollierIMG_3340 - Copy

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

PurityIMG_3332 - Copy

DazzlerIMG_3365

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.

 

The good, the bad and the companionable

IMG_2238(This picture has nothing to do with the post, I just took it today and wanted to share!)

In April’s End of Month View, I said “At the moment the seedlings would easily fill a plot ten times this size, so some difficult decisions will need to be made (or I need to find more space somewhere…)“.

Amazingly, the ‘good’ is that a some extra space has been lent to me by my lovely neighbours, J&A.  The area is 3.4m x 2.5m and the soil is wonderfully weed free, just a little stony.

Sunday was planting day, and I strolled up the road with my wheelbarrow full of the first wave of planting:

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Some time (and a couple of rain showers) later, my little plot was full up with Helianthus ‘Claret’, Helianthus ‘Valentine’ (just one, the slugs got the rest), Cleome ‘Violet Queen’, Amaranthus Viridis, Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, Cosmos ‘Psyche White’, Ammi visnaga, Antirrhinum ‘White Giant’, Antirrhinum ‘Liberty Classic Crimson’, Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ and Malope.

Not much to see – and I have to say some of the plants were looking a little shocked by the move, but hopefully they’ll settle in quickly.  I’m a bit concerned I’ve planted them too close together, but I expect you’ll understand when you read about the ‘bad’.

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So I’m afraid the ‘bad’ is very closely related.  Here’s the wheelbarrow I wheeled home.  Not exactly devoid of seedlings and I haven’t even mentioned the Molucella, Bupleurum, Nicotiana, Tithonia, Cerinthe, Calendula….  Where are they all going to go?

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But to finish, ‘the companionable’.  The plot is right next to J&A’s chicken run and the girls (and boy) did a lovely job of keeping me company with their clucking and cooing.  Shame this one seems to be suffering from an identity crisis.

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