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Stars of the Show

Stars of the show at the Open Garden – Kalmia latifolia,  Hostas and Diascia.

Thank you to all who came to support our Open Garden yesterday – we raised £636 to be shared between the two charities, Guide Dogs for the Blind and SAAFA.  I was relieved it didn’t rain until 3pm because the weather forecast was poor – that will teach me to pray for rain!!!

The star of the show was without doubt Kalmia latifolia, in full bloom, perfect in fact.

Kalmia latifolia

Kalmia latifolia

Kalmia latifolia is a North American native, sometimes called Calico bush or Mountain laurel. It has an evergreen leaf a little like a Rhododendron and needs to grow in an acid soil in part shade with ideally plenty of moisture. It flowers profusely for a few weeks in late Spring and certainly brightens up my woodland areas.  I love the way the flower buds look like Iced Gem biscuits – memories of childhood!  My shrubs are 3-4m tall and have been there for many years – I have a pale pink one and a white and my reference books suggest the following varieties – pink ‘Myrtifolia’ and white ‘Snow Drift’. There are red and deep pink varieties too – ‘Freckles’, ‘Little Linda’, ‘Olympic Fire’ and ‘Pink Charm’ have RHS AGM awards.  I have never noticed these shrubs in the garden centres, though RHS Wisley or Hilliers would probably get them to order.  I am investigating getting hold of a dozen for people interested….watch this space!

See for more information.

Kalmia latifolia Snow Drift?

Kalmia ‘Snow Drift’?

The photo below shows the pink Kalmia planted alongside a clipped holly with pink foxgloves and hostas.  This is a textbook ‘planting association’ – contrasting leaf size and shape, plant form and colour coordination!  The foxglove is Digitalis ‘Suttons Apricot’, my favourite, the Hostas are H. sieboldiana Elegans and Queen Josephine.

‘Textbook’ plant association

D. Apricot beauty close up

Digtalis Apricot Beauty close up

The Hostas were a big talking point yesterday too, everyone wanted to know how I had such beautiful specimens…it’s no secret; water frequently, I use Miracle-gro plant food about once or twice a month during the growing season and keep the slugs off with slug pellets.  Start the slug pellets on Valentines Day, even before the shoots have shown so the slugs can’t damage the growing tips, then apply pellets every 4-6 weeks.  I haven’t tried copper tape or crushed eggshells but people say they work too.

Favourite hostas

The big hosta is H. Sum and Substance, the pale yellow is H. August Moon, the white edge is H. Patriot and the yellow edge is H. fortunei ‘Aureomarginata’.

I had lots of questions about the Diascias in the borders.  I used these as bedding a couple of years ago in a client’s garden to fill in gaps – they were gorgeous and surprisingly survived the winter.  Last year I thought I would try some here and they too survived the last very cold winter.  They are superb this year, doubled in size, and I have lifted and split them and potted some up in containers.

Diascia with herbs

Diascia in the herb garden

I think they are Diascia barberae ‘Flying colours’ collection  – ‘Apple blossom’ the pale pink and ‘Ruby Field’ above, the darker pink.  I found them in the hanging basket section of Longacres and I certainly didn’t expect them to be hardy.  The one above has been covered with flowers for a couple of weeks already.

Another plant to attract attention was Allium schubertii – a really gorgeous, unusual allium, with huge, pinky-purple, umbrella shaped blooms up to 30cm across, made up of tiny, star-shaped flowers that look like exploded fireworks. I have this bulb dotted  among grasses Stipa tenuissima, Gaura and the Diascias.

Allium schubertii in the border

Allium schubertii with Stipa and Diascia

I would like to plant lots of Alliums this autumn – they like well drained soil, full sun and given both will reappear year after year.  I intend to use A. ‘Purple Sensation’ amongst the Nepeta on the bank and along the new sunny pathway, and maybe a few A. ‘Globemaster’ with heads up to 20cm diameter! (unfortunately it’s an expensive bulb!)

View down the garden

Iris sibirica

People were very kind with their comments yesterday and told me how hard I must work in the garden to produce such beautiful results – but it’s not work to me, it’s my pleasure!

If you missed the Open Day please give me a ring to arrange to come over and see the garden – £5 per visit, all money to my favourite charities, Guide Dogs and SAAFA.

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