At Pettifers we like our plants to reflect our attitude to the garden – they have to work hard!
Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ is near enough a perfect plant. It starts flowering in July, brushes off any temperature that the sun throws at it, ignores rain showers, needs no staking and as it’s a mix of yellow and orange it tones with a lot of plants that flower now. We have it next to Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’. This is a jammier colour than scarlet suggests. Near by to contrast later in the season is Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Royal Flush’. This is the typical gentian blue of the genus with the added bonus of red leaves when they first emerge in March. This orange/apricot/strong blue combination is typical of the Autumn Border that starts flowering now and will continue unabated until heavy frosts or mid November. We once had a group visit booked for the last day of October. I was slightly apprehensive that there would be enough to see, but the Autumn Border stood there looking proud and glorious.
Mid August sees us dead heading the helenium. It’s a picky type of job best tackled with a large hat on, the sun on your back and listening to the bees buzzing all around you. You can either snip individual flowers off neatly (one of us) or you can grab a number of heads together in your fist and cut away with impunity (t’other of us). Both work. But do do it. This will see the plant flower through September still looking as fresh as the daisy that it is.
We have a number of Polemoniums in the garden. This seems to be one those genus that you used to see in other peoples’ gardens when you were growing up. Unassuming, needing little attention and always flowering their heads off, and yet now rarely seen unless you go to a garden of a Hardy Plant Societer. We have ‘Sonia’s Bluebell’ and foliosissimum ‘Cottage Cream’. ‘Sonia’s Bluebell’ flowers for 3 months then we chop it to the ground and it will come again. Very accommodating. ‘Cottage Cream’ just flowers and flowers. After the first flush, it falls over and then sends up flowers from all the now horizontal leaf axils. It definitely needs to be put in a place where it can loll with abandon like a Roman senator (someone pass it a peeled grape please). A new polemonium to us is archibaldiae. We were given it by Sibylle Kreutzberger on our visit to her garden earlier in the week. She dead heads it and it keeps on flowering and renewing its leaves. I think it will be a good doer.
So, summer is here. Holidays beckon. The garden is working hard. So we’ll retire to a hammock..
HA! As if. . .