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Archive for the ‘Perennials’ Category

Clematis-you can never have enough of them! This one is Clematis viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’. One of the first I planted in my garden and I love it for its random green markings on the petals.

Originally growing right next to a tree, this plant barely used to flower, but as soon as the tree was removed, it sped away. It especially likes my neighbours’ lovely new trellis to cling onto.

Viticella indicates a late flowering (group 3) Clematis, so every spring, I just lop the whole thing down to about 18 inches, give it a good mulch with manure and it flowers profusely from July until September/October.

I think this one (above) is C. viticella ‘Venosa Violacea’ (huge thanks Nick and Jo -in comments below. Definitely not ‘The President’).  Again, flowering from July to September.

I may have mentioned (just a few times) that I’ve only got a small London garden, and having run out of wall space, I was looking for other means of getting more of these gorgeous blooms into my plot. A lovely old stick, wrapped in chicken wire seems to work well and sveltely adds a bit of height and drama into the border. Half of this Clematis did die back earlier in the year and presuming this was ‘clematis wilt’, I chopped the whole plant back to about a foot. Since then it’s recovered well,  put on lots of healthy new growth, and is still pumping out loads of colour in October. Hoorah!

By no means am I a Clematis expert, but many growers have advised me over the years to plant these climbers about 15cm deeper than they were originally grown in the pot, and this will hep them survive clematis wilt.

I’ve still got a fair amount of colour in the garden at the moment, but mostly pinks and purples, so I’ve decided to plant another Clematis, Bill Mackenzie this time, which will give me wonderful yellow nodding lanterns from August until November.

Now is a great time to plant perennials and climbers, as the ground is still warm and we should have plenty of rain for keeping plants well watered.

Following my own advice to plant good and deep, seventeen years later I’m still being surprised with concrete (reinforced this time-GRrr) in my borders.

However, I did manage to dig a big deep hole and plant my new purchase about 15cms lower than it was growing in its pot.

I’ve also given it a lovely stick to climb up, with lots of chicken wire to grab onto,

and mixed loads of rich compost into the planting hole. Again, I’ll cut this back in spring to about a foot, 18 inches. This is quite a vigorous Clematis though, so I think I may have to add another stick to make an arch as the climber really gets into its stride.

I’ve found Clematis do take at least a couple of years to really get going, but once you start looking at all the exciting varieties our there (try Thorncroft, a great Clematis specialist for ordering online, or Great Dixter have a great selection too if you’re passing near Rye), you can find varieties that will give you flowers for most of the year, and you’ll want to squeeze in more and more.

I bought this lovely metal frame from Plant Belles in spring to weave a Clematis Columbine (early flowering group 1) around. But many objects will give a clematis the support it needs to romp away.

Last summer I visited Bryan’s Ground, a superlative garden near Hay-on-Wye, and marvelled at this clematis growing up old bed springs, supplying a stunning backdrop to these triumphant Veronicastrum.

And this Clematis montana ‘Tetrarose’ (group 1) flowering in May in Lucy Mackenzie’s ‘Lip na Cloiche’ garden on Mull had a lovely gentle scent as well as entwining itself around a length of hefty old rope.

 Clematis armandii also delicately perfumes the air in March and April.  It doesn’t necessarily need pruning, but this evergreen is so vigorous, that you may need to hack this right back to a foot or two if it gets overgrown. Do it just after it’s flowered and you should still have some blooms the following year.

And I have very fond memories of these whopping ‘Nelly Moser’ blooms scrambling up my in-laws’ shed in Belfast. Perfect for a less-than-sunny spot by the way.

There’s still one more clematis , H.F. Young, to find a space for in my garden. It’s looks like a rather charming variety, with large ‘Wedgwood Blue’ flowers in May and June and again in August and September. Just need to come up with the right support. Thinking it may be a teepee this time.

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been itching to write about Cardamine pentaphylla ever since I bought it at the Great Dixter Plant Fair some weeks ago (on the Beth Chatto stand).

Now I’ve waxed lyrical a couple of times before about Cardamine quinquefolia (above, and you can also see its leaves on the top left hand corner of the first pic). This Cardamine is much smaller and when discussing my gorgeous new find with Kathleen from the nursery at Great Dixter, she described it as C. quiquefolia on steroids. She’s not wrong there. Comparatively, it’s a whopper.

I love growing C. quinquefolia as its delicate lilac flowers are such a welcome sight in February and March, when many other perennials are still underground and my garden can look a tad bare. And then the leaves completely vanish over summer as if it had never been there. In fact, it’s a great spreader and now grows through a large fern. I cut back the old fern leaves in February, C. quinquefolia does it’s thing, then disappears as the fern starts to unfurl. Perfect.

I was recently over in Belfast, and just outside the city is the wonderful Ballyrobert Gardens and nursery . (The website is impressive too, giving great information on the many tempting plants they sell.) In the gardens, I spotted Cardime heptaphylla ‘Big White’ (similar in stature to C. pentaphylla), lighting up the borders where it grew and couldn’t resist. I think it will look rather gorgeous amongst some Leucojum aestivum next year.

And when I was searching for Cardamines on the Beth Chatto website, I realised that they had a few more species to try out: Caramine glanduligera, pratensis ‘Flore Pleno’ and Cardamine trifolia. More pink and white blooms to enliven the garden in early spring. Hurrah!

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wendy-shillams-rooftop-shed-and-flowersI first heard about Wendy Shillam’s wonderful rooftop garden via the Chelsea Fringe.  It’s a small, but perfectly formed fruit, veg and flower garden, 5 floors up, and just round the corner from Oxford Circus in the heart of our metropolis.

writing-shed-on-wendy-shillams-rooftopI say perfectly formed, as this bijou veg patch also comes with a fully equipped writing shed,

wendy-shillams-rooftop-mini-greenhouseand a very productive greenhouse.

wendy-shillams-rooftop

It’s hugely impressive and utterly delightful.

lettuces-on-wendy-shillams-rooftopEach time I visit, I’m wowed by how much veg Wendy grows in her 6 inch raised beds,

wendy-shillams-rooftop-planting-to-cope-with-windand how, over the years, she’s developed strategies for taming the wind on her rooftop to allow her to grow such a wide variety of plants.

This Spring, Wendy is running a number of workshops on growing year round salad leaves, edibles for a healthy diet, yoghurt making using herbs for flavouring and ‘preserving sweet flavours that are a million miles away from shop-bought cocktails and sugary colas’. Booking is now open, and I’m really looking forward to going on the first workshop in March.Chelsea Fringe Day 2013 Ambler Road London N4And talking of the Chelsea Fringethe website is now open for signing up events if you’d like to participate! This year it runs from 20th May until the 4th June. Our community veg growing project joined in in 2012 and 2013. It’s massively enjoyable to take part,

Anmnarose's fernery in the toilet 3

and also great to see as many as possible of the hundreds of events that pop up each year (fernery in a toilet from 2013 above).

geoff winning 2nd Prize

I can’t wait to see what the Fringe has in store for 2017……(Above-Geoff at the Inner Temple Gardens Dog Show in 2013)

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