I can’t keep up with Thompson & Morgan! Verbascums, a favourite background filler for flowerbeds, have always been yellow! Then last year T&M brought out Clementine, a golden/bronze beauty. The plug plants I received grew strongly are now blooming rather well in May a year later.
Then a blue verbascum, Blue Lagoon, came on the market and I had to have some, especially to plant with Clementine as they would make a great contrast.
I have always loved delphiniums but like many other gardeners find my slugs love them even more and plants have always been decimated, always when my hopes were riding high for a fabulous display. So I ordered two plug plants £9.99 each or 2 for £17.99 to make up for my disappointing attempts to grow delphiniums. As they only arrived three weeks ago and won’t be anywhere near mature until next spring I will plant them in larger pots for the time being, making sure I use my outstandingly good labeller so they don’t become the pots that I wonder what’s in them!
Blue Lagoon has been developed using specialist micro-propagation techniques. It has the same characteristics as its fellow verbascums: low maintenance and well adapted to growing in poor, stony soils. It should grow to about 30 inches high and spread out for about 12 inches. Flowering from June through to September they like full sun. Although my garden loses it by 2 pm, Clementine is doing very well. Verbascums spread their leaves flat to the ground – a remarkably useful weed control feature.
Then I heard of yet another new verbascum – Pink Pixie. Spoilt for choice! I’ve decided to get some to grow with the aquilegia Green Apples, again it will be a good contrast and I’m hoping the height difference will add to its impact. I’ll be sure to space the verbascum plants far enough apart so as not to smother the aquilegia.
All the verbascum cost £9.99 each or £17.99 for two plants that come in 7cm pots. See T&M webpages for more details
Val Reynolds, Editor
Every winter I study gardening books and magazines, determined that the coming summer will be different from previous ones. The area which I like to think of as my herb garden will be recognisable as such, and the remainder of the garden will be in cunningly designed drifts of planting, colours and shapes artfully selected so as to complement each other. While still maintaining the unstructured look that I prefer, I’ll ensure that each plant knows its place and stays there, leaving me room to get between them for essential weeding and maintenance. This year, I’ll be in charge.
And every year the same thing happens all over again. In March, desperate for spring to begin, I stand outside staring at the ground, brown, bare and depressing – even worse than usual this time due to the extreme cold of last winter. I remind myself that nature will perform its usual tricks and perennials will appear as if by magic out of nowhere, while other plants will suddenly double in volume. But even so, there needs to be some selective new planting to fill these huge gaps. So, very disciplined, I plant just a few small plants and sigh when I see how large the gaps around them are still. In April, seeing that not much appears to have grown, I conclude that my memory has played me false, and desperately move clumps of the tougher perennials from elsewhere to hide the gaps.
But then when I pay my usual early morning trip to inspect the garden, I see that at last things are happening; plants which I’d thought had died off during the winter are putting out new growth. Amazingly, a couple of things which had “died” two years ago have been reincarnated with amazing vigour, and I spot several plants which have just arrived, apparently overnight and by their own volition; I certainly didn’t plant them as I haven’t a clue what they are! And a few days later there are more, and then even more.
And now in July you could almost get lost in my tiny garden. Self-seeded bamboos, golden angelica, bronze fennel and mauve verbena bonariensis have taken over and form a thicket standing six feet high. Marjoram and mint have grown into bushes, joining large clumps of prickly eryngium to form an almost impenetrable barrier, behind which lavender, rosemary and pink lavatera romp away. A solitary runner bean plant is growing into the overhanging ceanothus, raising the prospect of the sight of bean pods suspended among blue flowers. On a sunny day, bees are everywhere; at night it feels and smells like being in a wood.
Tidy it most certainly is not, in fact you could describe it with justification as messy. A friend kindly pronounced it “very lively”, and it’s undeniably full of life but who’s in charge this year? Not me, that’s for sure … maybe next year …
Janet Harmer Contributing author
www.ourfrontgarden.com is the website we write about the ongoing renovation and care of a front garden in a garden city