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.