The show goes on

Autumn is very firmly in charge now and most of the apples are picked, apart from some late varieties that I will leave on the trees, to mature as long as possible. But there is still colour in the garden. Some plants are naturally late and the first flowers on the chrysanthemums are only just opening. But the asters (which are not asters any more so I will call them Michaelmas daisies – though Michaelmas is now long gone – Sept 29) are getting better every day. Yesterday some painted ladies joined the party.

Foliage colour is the order of the day, of course, and weigela ‘Wings of Fire’ is taking on deep claret shades. It is a funny plant and the leaves are amber and orange shades all summer and I have not yet seen a flower. It is not supposed to bloom much but it is odd that there have been none – and no, I have not pruned it and yes it is more than two years old now. It is a neat and colourful plant.

My admiration for persicarias continues and this is ‘Orangefield’ which is as close to orange as you can get, – and it is not that close! But it has a brightness that most of the others lack.

I have written about Impatiens scabrida before (possibly too much) and the one plant last year is now many, many more, covering a square metre or so. I am still very slightly concerned that it may be a nuisance but it is easy to pull up. And for sheer value it is amazing. The spot it inhabits, at the back of the house, is now shaded except in early morning and, although it looked very tired and had few flowers during and immediately after the dry, hot spell in July and August, it has bounced back with the cooler, wetter conditions and is now looking great. The bumblebees are very happy about that and the wasps, which must collect something from the glands around the growing tips, are busy foraging and leaving the fruit trees alone.

The tulbaghias have a new head of steam too. I will (inaccurately) call this T. violacea because I did some tinkering with them many years ago and I can’t be certain exactly if this is the plain species or something I created. In warm spots I know these can be a weed but when they have a flush of flowers they are quite charming and are good cut flowers (with nerines at the moment) if you ignore the garlic smell.

The nerine bed doesn’t really belong in this post as it is only just starting to bloom but as some of the tulbaghias share this south-facing spot it seems only fair to mention them.

The salvias carry on regardless of the weather and ‘Phyllis Fancy’ is as good as it has been all season. It is, unfortunately, decidedly a short-day plant, only flowering freely when the days are getting short. So it is always a gamble whether they are going to make much of a display. Last year I took a few more cuttings than just to keep one in the plant library and so I was more generous, and less prissy, about planting them out. In response, in the big borders, they have grown pretty well and although not eye-popping, they are attractive. I have taken even more cuttings this year to experiment further next summer.

I never have any such fear about Salvia uliginosa which is almost becoming a weed, this clump having grown from the few pieces left when I moved most of it this spring. I will have to take it firmly in hand but, at this time of year, I can forgive it anything – even its staggering around like an inebriated stiltwalker.

On a smaller scale, I am impressed at how long Jaborosa integrifolia has been blooming. It is a plant I have long admired but was worried if it would be hardy enough to survive here. I needn’t have worried because it has spread at a mildly alarming rate, the large, leathery leaves emerging directly from the soil and the long-tubed, white, fragrant flowers popping up among other low plants. It is now at least 1m across and has been blooming since June.

And I can’t conclude without a mention of agapanthus ‘Poppin Purple’. This recent introduction is promoted for its long flowering period as well as the purple colour of the flowers, which I like – but it is not blue! It is compact (about 40cm high) and neat and it really does rebloom again and it is still in full bloom, months after my other agapanthus have faded.

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2 Comments on “The show goes on”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    October 9, 2022 at 9:49 am #

    A great selection at this of the year. We have found Agapanthus ‘Poppin Purple’ a great performer also and like it very much. We used grow Tulbaghias years ago and got rid of them as they seeded about so much and these latest released as T. violacea seem to be much bigger and stronger plants and I wonder if they are some new cultivar. A spreading Impatiens and all persicarias are unwelcome in our garden as we fear their habits.

    • thebikinggardener
      October 9, 2022 at 12:21 pm #

      I think a lot of work has been done on tulbaghias so perhaps what is sold as T. violacea is not really that at all. I share your concerns about impatiens but some persicarias are well behaved. But I don’t have as many precious things as you so I can accept some thuggishness, for now.

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