Sweltering temperatures for the past month and scarcely any rain have necessitated frequent watering sessions in my Kew garden assisted by a new acquisition, a very elegant long reach galvanised watering can from Haws, replacing the cracked plastic can I’ve used for years.
Thankfully several specimens in the garden are relatively drought tolerant and there are plenty of flowers on display providing nectar for an assortment of pollinators. Verbena bonariensis flowers, consisting of tiny five petalled florets clustered atop an Angelica like stem, attract both honey and bumble bees. Last summer’s window box lavender plant has settled comfortably into a pot in the sunniest corner of the plot, its grey-green foliage a foil for the sugary pink and orchid shaped petals of the Chinese Foxglove, Rehmannia elata. Nearby, a cerise pink Osteospermum has re-flowered, after I split the original specimen into the three plants of which it was made up when I was given it earlier in the summer. Each individual was enmeshed in the teabag like material which I sometimes feel inhibits vigorous growth of plants sold as annuals. Having dead-headed the spent petals and released the roots I re-planted each plant in pots located in different areas of the garden. Significantly, that in the sunniest spot has been the first to re-flower.
A tomato plant in this corner of the garden is the epitome of strength and vigour and I hope to avoid the blight which saw off last summer’s plants in an overnight collapse. I’ve enjoyed monitoring the success of three plants bought from a plant sale at Osterley House a year ago, all propagated on site from stock plants. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ has been a star performer. Tucked into a shady spot near the kitchen window, its blooms emerge as bright green pom-poms, fading as they increase in girth to a soft cream, until reaching the size of a football. The weight of the flowers means staking the stems but this is a small price to pay for a display which lifts my spirits each time I look out at the garden. Phygelius capensis was a discovery and thrives in the dappled sunshine provided by the Pieris planted in a corner of the patio. One of its common names is Cape Fuchsia and the 3cm orange trumpet shaped flowers certainly resemble those of Fuchsia ‘Thalia’. The tips of the petal openings are bright scarlet, visible only when tilted upwards for closer inspection. Like Annabelle, it’s a thirsty plant and a challenge during the current dry spell. Less susceptible to a scarcity of water is another pot-planted purchase from Osterley, Stipa tenuissima, whose fine curled tips create a golden haze of filaments which shimmer in the sunshine.
Having removed a yellow flowered Day Lily, Hemerocallis, from the pot in which it had languished without flowering for a couple of years, I have replaced it with perennials identified in the July edition of the RHS’s The Garden magazine as attractive to pollinators. Two are members of the daisy family: Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ and Erigeron karvinskianus. The third, Eryngium planum ‘Blue Hobbit’, is a distant relative of the carrot and having read that the genus dislikes being crowded by other plants, I’ve now put it into a separate pot. This is a relatively dwarf cultivar, due to reach a height of 30cm.
Next time, I discover a hidden park in the centre of Dublin.