Summer’s back, in white and blue…

Oh, this has been a silly year. And, just to top off the most peculiar growing season, summer appears to be back. Except at night, mind. But that does mean that the garden is having a final flash of colour, though intriguingly there’s been a bit of a colour shift.

I normally associate this time of year with oranges and reds (heleniums – over) and yellows (rudbeckia – thinking about flowering but still not sure). Oh, I’ve got some, yes: marigolds and (I suppose they count) grasses, and for the reds a surprisingly late Bishop of Llandaff dahlia. But I’ve gone white:


with a good big clump of echinacea which is quite unusual for me. (Yes, I know they’ve been chewed. Everything’s been chewed.)

I’m putting their success down to the fact that I went berserk in one of my post-work evening forays into the garden this summer and ripped out all the sidalacea which has been running riot. I didn’t know this would improve life for the echinacea; it was a happy accident, but a fortuitous one. I learned at our village garden club that echinaceas like air and light at the base (thanks to Christine ffoulkes Jones of Hall Farm Nursery for that info). They’ve certainly got that now that the ******* sidalacea is dust.

The cosmos have finally decided to flower,

cosmos and bee

and are attracting a lot of attention from the bees, even if this one didn’t hang around to be photographed in situ. The sheer number of cosmos partly accounts for the whitening of the garden, but I really wouldn’t have minded in the slightest if some of them had decided to flower earlier, honestly I wouldn’t.

The garlic chives are also late, but they’re providing a nice allium note in what is really autumn, so I don’t object in the slightest…


and nor do I object to another late performer, the agapanthus. We split a huge clump last year, brutally hacking it into four and leaving one quarter where it was. Three of the quarters flowered at roughly – very roughly – the normal time; one didn’t. It’s only just gone over.


It’s the transplanted quarter which is probably in the most sheltered position, or so I thought. But in actual fact we had some vile east winds earlier in the season, and this is in the direct line of fire (look at the pittosporum on the left; that’s suffered a bit too). That is the only possible reason I can come up with, but it’s probably rubbish.

And then there’s a random blue which I love:


Chicory – just came up spontaneously. And I’d love it a lot more if it wasn’t so huge and didn’t sprawl everywhere, but it is a most beautiful colour so I daresay I can forgive it.

But the most notable plants in the garden at the moment are the actaeas, aka cimicifugas. It’s not just the sheer height (this one is almost as tall as the giant hedge which makes it about 2.5 metres),


it’s also the scent and the sheer presence. Even if mine are not as completely covered in butterflies as one in Karen’s (The Artist’s Garden) was last night:

karen's butterflies

Or at least if it has been, I’ve not noticed it. Direct sunlight would seem to be the key to butterfly madness (I’ve got bees, and so has Karen), so I shall go and watch mine closely in the middle of the day. Fingers crossed!


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Love your actaea, mine have been sulking all year. Top tip on echinacea, probably explains the paltry flowering of mine, since the Pheasant’s Tail grass has been smothering it in a cloud of airy seedheads! The agapanthus look as wonderful against that wall as I thought they would, everybody should have a wall like that to show plants off against. Where’s mine?!

    1. kate says:

      Mine are very good this year – and they’re still babies. Heaven only knows how big they’ll be next year…

  2. Spade & Dagger says:

    The season has indeed gone awry – in the summer the cornflowers rushed to seed and promptly died, but this dropped seed has grown so quickly in the late sunshine that it is beginning to flower in (soon to be) October.

    1. kate says:

      I’ve got foxgloves about to flower…

  3. I love your echinacea! I have quite a bit here but it is all very sad and small. I shall have to have a go at giving it more space. It’s very lovely here too in a sun and wind kind of way. I should go out in the garden!

    1. kate says:

      My echinacea is a complete accident, but now I know the trick I may well have to move it next year – because it does look a bit odd in the middle of that bed with the space – light and air getting to it – that has made it happy. But it’s got a good alternative spot (I hope)…

      I’ve been working in this unseasonably warm weather – fingers xxxx that it lasts into next week. Bet it doesn’t.

  4. Thanks for the tip about the echinacea, I shall try it with the purpurea that I grow – the white is lovely, nibbled or not the seed heads will be fab later too. You describe and illustrate the beautiful actaeas so well, this is a plant I definitely want to add to a patch of deschampsia meadow next year. Do you think it would cope? It looks gorgeous against your burgundy ?hedge, what a stunning combination.

    1. kate says:

      I don’t know about the actaea – but it seems a pretty robust and tolerant plant. My big one is in a comparatively sheltered position (the burgundy is an acer, a thriving one, which gives you some idea of how sheltered it is given I have to cope with sea winds) but my baby – about 1.5 metres tall – isn’t, and it’s coping. Love the idea of them in a meadow setting – now there’s a thought!

      I need more. Many, many more. And the seed heads look spectacular in frost.

  5. croftgarden says:

    You are not the only one with a jumble of late flowering plants! My sweet peas didn’t start flowering until the end of August and the annual scabious are still in bud! Nice tip about the echinacea – shall I try one more time and buy yet another packet of seed?

    1. kate says:

      EH? Sweet peas in August? OK, my Demented Foxglove is in good company. Weird year.

      Echinacea seed – interestingly, and I’m sure I’m remembering this right, we were told not to bother with seed but to get plants. Mind you, that is coming from a nursery owner (my old journalistic instincts – always ask ‘why are you telling me this?’ – cannot be switched off)…

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