High Summer in the Garden

Although we are still quite early into the month, the sun is getting a little lower in the sky and the light is just beginning to take on that almost magical autumnal quality that I love so much. While some of the main groups of grasses such as miscanthus, pennisetum and panicum are still on the verge of flowering many of the perennials are coming into full flower. Persicarias in particular are looking great, covered in bees and hoverflies, and there are several repeated groups looking very effective on the Long Walk (above), at the moment.

The Gravel Garden (above), has scarcely less flower though this has a looser planting style as the guaras are allowed to seed around a little in our very dry sandy soil which they love. Agapanthus Northern Star. Stipa gigantea, Abelia grandiflora and Arundo Versicolor all help create a soft looking scene.

In another part of the Gravel Garden (below), I especially enjoy the interplay between the different forms of grasses including Jarava ichu, Stipa Gold Fontaene and Poa labillardierei. They all help create a soft and flowing backing for any of the perennials such as scabious, agapanthus, verbena and poppies.

On the edge of the gravel garden is a group of Persicaria Fat Domino (below), which has about the largest and fullest red flowers of any of the lovely forms that are now available to us.

On the other side of the path from the Gravel is the start of the Dragon Garden plantings (below). Here Persicaria Dikke Floskes, yet another superb cultivar, is looking especially wonderful at the moment, backed as it is by the quite amazing tall and elegant flowers of Cortaderia richardii.

Launched by ourselves only this spring Sesleria Spring Dream (below), is a great compact selection that is looking pretty good planted in a drift under a mature Euonymus latifolius.

The tiny starry white flowers of Aster divaricatus (below), are really pretty as well as being most enthusiastically produced. This plant copes very well with dry shady conditions and is looking great in a shady and dry part of the garden between the Long Walk and the new Dry Meadow plantings.

Astilbe chinensis Pumila (below), is especially valuable for it very compact and free flowering nature at this time of year. It is fine in dampish soils but also seems fairly happy in our usually dry soil in light shade and is backed rather nicely with Lysimachia clethroides and Miscanthus Variegatus.

Our latest new project in the garden has been the creation of our Dry Meadow (below), on what was previously a rather tired part of the garden. Like most of our garden the area is pretty dry for most of the year (we are in something of a summer rain shadow as well as being low lying and frosty), but it can get pretty wet at times in winter. When preparing the area we created some lower swales or depressions to help deal with the sudden influx of water that we have to cope with. These swales are linked in an effort to manage the surface water and are planted with a different selection of plants that will cope with the wet and dry routine more easily.

Most of the plants have only been in the ground for a few months at most, but are already beginning to show signs of establishing. It is always an exciting time to watch a new planting come together! Echinacea pallida (below), has a reputation for being a little longer lived than some and are already looking pretty nice so we are hopeful that they will stay at least for a while…..

Nepeta Walkers Low (below), is an older cultivar but still one of the best and most reliable. We have it in the new Dry Meadow and it is already producing lots of soft blue flowers that are especially loved by bees; including the rather fascinating Green Eyed Flower Bee (image courtesy of Tracy Standish).