Growing plants, comparing plants, writing about plants.
The world of plants is vast and can be daunting, but the pleasure of gardening is in learning what works; for you, for your garden and for the natural world around you. There’s no right or wrong, no better or worse, you’re free to decide for yourself what to grow.
Join me in an exploration of plants. I’ll be making visits to different gardens, nurseries, trade and public plant shows throughout the year, where I’ll be looking at the plants being grown and sold so that I can share ideas that you might want to try in your own garden. I’ll also be writing about vegetable growing on my allotment, and I’ll be taking a look at some of the many new introductions that come onto the market.
September and October
The evenings are getting shorter and there’s a stillness in the air that tells us as clearly as any calendar that September is here. In fact it has felt like autumn through much of the last couple of weeks of August down here in the south east, although I think Scotland and the north west have been seeing a lot more of the sun.
I always think that plants reflect the time of year in their leaves. It’s too early for autumn colour but in September they lose their lustre and start to look tired. Insects have been eating holes and fungal diseases like mildew and botrytis get established. From what I’ve seen in various gardens, flowers have been lasting unusually well, though. Roses in particular have flowered well throughout August and the September flush is bigger and better than ever.
There are plenty of late summer bloomers to keep the colour going too. Dahlias, of course, but also heleniums, rudbeckias and Japanese anemone – now called Eriocapitella I have just discovered!
These pictures were taken in the walled garden at Helmingham Hall in Suffolk on the August bank holiday weekend.
In my own garden I’ve been really pleased to have so much flower throughout August and now in September. The bees are as busy as ever and still have plenty of choice. Clematis tangutica has just got underway (later than usual this year) and is the only clematis I’ve grown that really attracts bees, which seem too impatient to wait for them to open and regularly force their way in between the still closed tepals. Maybe the nectar is better before the flower opens, because they’ll often ignore the fully open blooms.
Despite the late frosts my hydrangeas have had a good year. H. paniculata ‘Little Lime’ has looked better than I’ve seen it before, and now the lime green flowers are turning pink and red and look prettier than ever. Unlike some of the mop head and lacecap hydrangeas, H. paniculata flowers on new wood so flowering isn’t affected by spring frost and they can be cut back quite hard. I also grow one of the new types of H. macrophyla, ‘Endless Summer The Bride’ which also flowers on new wood, as well as the old which most macrophyla cultivars flower on. It did seem to suffer back in April when we had so many frosty nights, but it recovered well and has been looking good for months.
Clematis ‘Wisley’, although very nearly swamped by the C. tangutica, is still flowering. This is normally finished by mid August. Crocosmia is still looking good, one of the echinaceas I grow has only just started to flower, my one dahlia (‘Fairway Spur’) has just opened its first huge blooms, Abelia ‘Pink Pong’ is scenting the garden and behind it the foxglove I grew from seed (Digitalis x mertonensis) is, incredibly, still flowering after more than two months. The rose below, ‘Sweet Honey’, has been repeat flowering for a while but now has even more buds and bloom and the japanese anemone, or Eriocapitella, ‘September Charm’ is assuming its usual lofty position. Even the bindweed flowers are looking pretty and attracting insects, although I would still rather it wasn’t there.
As I was saying back in July and August, it’s been difficult to walk down my narrow garden this year because the plants have been so full and lush, and none more so than the miscanthus. Planted quite a few years ago, it had been quite well behaved, but has recently taken off and grown into a huge clump, with leaves reaching out across the grass path to whack you in the face as you squeeze between it and the tangle of clematis on the other side. It has just come into flower, and I’m going to be making the most of it because next year I’ll either dig it up and split it, replanting a smaller section, or I might get rid of it completely. I’d be sorry to lose it, but at the moment it feels like there isn’t room for the both of us, and to quote the song, it isn’t me whose going to leave!
The copyright of all images and text used in this website belongs to Janice Shipp unless otherwise stated.