Taking subtlety too far

This year I have not bothered too much with colour combinations in the two main borders. Most of the annuals I grew were cosmos and marigolds, for simplicity’s sake because of lack of seedling growing space, and they got planted in swathes where the trays landed, more or less. But I was a bit more picky with the perennials and tried to plant so they would look good together. Of course, with perennials, you have the chance to change things quite easily and as plants have to be divided and replanted you can make better combinations.

But I thought planting aconitum ‘Stainless Steel’, a plant I particularly like, behind some clumps of seed-raised Campanula lactiflora, would be a good combination. I was taking a risk because although some of the campanulas had flowered last year, not all had bloomed, but I seemed to recall they were pale blue. They were bought as ‘New Hybrids’ and the poor plants, raised several years ago, had been in a cell tray for too many seasons and only five had made it till I was ready to plant them. Maybe there were exciting pinks and white in the mix but, as it turns out, all five are rather similar, but very lovely, blues. The snag is that, being the first year of growth, the aconitum is only 1m high, the same as the campanulas, and almost the same colour. You could almost say it is camouflaged!

The problem there was all my own making – a combination that does not quite work. But Linaria ‘Peachy’ is subtle too. It is rather too early to condemn it and I am not sure what I expected, but it is another plant that needs careful placing if it is not to be invisible. I knew it was not going to be flash so planted it beside silvery artemisia, but because the linaria has rather grey leaves I think it might be better with a background of bolder, green leaves to accentuate the airiness of the foliage and flowers. ‘Peachy’ is a sterile (supposedly) hybrid of yellow Linaria dalmatica and Linaria purpurea. The latter was a feature of my last garden, seeding everywhere but rarely in the wrong place, and though the flowers are small, it is a nice, rather roguish plant. ‘Peachy’ has flowers that are a mix of creamy yellow and reddish purple and never quite seem sure what shade to settle on. I rather think that this is one of those plants that are like a glass of Baileys – one is never enough – and if I can get some cuttings to root, it will be better as a group of five or six. But it is still early days and it may burst into a frenzy of colour as the days cool.

To rekindle my friendship with Linaria purpurea I grew some from seed but as the ‘dark pink’ form. ‘Canon Went’ is the more common, pale pink form and very nice it is too, but I wanted something different so gave this a try. Again, the poor plants were only a twinkle in the seed pod’s eye at the end of last summer and the plants are still small but they are an interesting colour, though maybe not quite what I expected.

And this one was completely unexpected since it was a seedling that popped up in one of my mail-order asters this spring. When it appeared I was pretty sure it was a linaria so I let it grow, unlike the bittercress and willowherb that usually appears. And it has grown better than the other two that I deliberately wanted! I am pretty sure this IS ‘Canon Went’ or pretty close, and I (and the bees) am delighted to have him back in the garden.

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5 Comments on “Taking subtlety too far”

  1. Meriel
    July 19, 2021 at 12:24 pm #

    It certainly is invisible! I love ‘Canon Went’ too but it very rarely seeds Unlike the purple/blue one which I have tried unsuccessfully to ban to the wild garden. You have make remarkable strides in such a short time.

    • thebikinggardener
      July 19, 2021 at 1:19 pm #

      I will look out for seeds on his Reverence! Yes the garden is coming along though not much is happening today – it is too hot to venure out!

  2. Paddy Tobin
    July 19, 2021 at 1:15 pm #

    Colour combination is beyond me and I leave it all to the Head Gardener.

    • thebikinggardener
      July 19, 2021 at 1:20 pm #

      LOL. Perhaps the wisest course 🙂

      • Paddy Tobin
        July 19, 2021 at 1:37 pm #

        Even with shirts and ties!

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