Plant Mis-selling

In January, I bought two packs of Aconitum napellus ‘Album’ from a well known on-line plant nursery. There were three bare-rooted plants in each pack. They were for our green and white themed, shady border near to the house (‘Album’ being botanical Latin for white). Aconitum (or, Monkshood) are generally blue, but ‘Album’ is the white form.

As they were small, I potted them up and grew them on (initially in the greenhouse), planting them out once the frosts had stopped. They grew well, and began to form flower spikes. But it became clear fairly on they weren’t going to be white. The flowers are fully out now…

Oh dear! I’ve contacted the supplier, who were very good, and are processing a full refund, as they don’t have any replacements they can give me. And I can use these blue Aconitums elsewhere in the garden. So now I just need to source some white ones from somewhere. That, or find an alternative (white foxgloves could be an option).

Below is the border in early May, with the white ‘Purissima’ tulips and ‘Thalia’ daffodils still in flower. Okay, I know there are some blue flowers, which doesn’t fit the colour scheme, but rules are made to be broken! The flowers are pale blue, but the leaves of the Brunnera at least are white…

The planting is only just establishing. Two Pyracantha’s, a Viburnum x burkwoodii, and a Chimonanthus (yellow flowers, but in winter, when little else is out) will eventually hide the fence. Along the front edge, on the house side of the semi-raised pond, is a low hedge of Sarcococca, grown from cuttings taken from a single plant. The small white flowers are produced in the winter, and are very fragrant (which is why I put them by the house).

As you can see, the paths have been set out, but need to be levelled and paved. To save money, I’m doing the landscaping work myself, little by little when I can find the time which, at the moment, isn’t often. It’s a work in progress.

The perennial planting includes four ferns – Polystichum polyblepharum.

I’ve been disappointed how much they’ve suffered. The new croziers have been wiped out twice so far this year – once by the cold, and once by the hot sunny weather we had early on (the bed is not as shaded as it will be once the wall shrubs have established).

There six Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’, which flowered well (with, as you would expect, white flowers).

There are two Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’. At the moment they’re all foliage – the white flowers will appear later on. This is another plant which didn’t turn out as I expected, thanks to nursery mis-labelling.

Three Actaea (A. simplex ‘Brunette’) have lovely dark foliage that will stand out against the green shades of the other plants, and fragrant white flower spikes (which are quite late to flower).

Brunnera ‘Alchemy Silver’ has large, striking, silvery heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are pale blue, small, and similar to forget-me-nots. The blue doesn’t fit in with the white theme, but they appear in early spring, so I think that can be forgiven.

The planting looks sparse now, but in time it should expand and mesh together. I chose plants that flower at different times so that there will be flowers for most of the year. Contrasting colours, textures and leaf shapes make for a bed full of interest.

text & images © graham wright 2023

Stars of the Autumn Border

By this time of year, so many of our flowering plants have done their thing and are in various stages of decay – some more decorous than others. In autumn we rely on the turning leaves to provide colour and interest in our gardens. But there are some flowering plants that are at their peak now. One of these is the plant we know as sedum.[1.]
A dark-leaved sedum, sold as an unnamed variety, but which is probably ‘Xenox’).

A closer view, showing the intense colours of leaf and flower.

Another Autumn favourite is the aster, or Michaelmas daisy. The one below was actually taken last month at Picton Garden, near Malvern, which holds the national collection of autumn flowering Michaelmas daisies. Continue reading