We are absolutely in the thick of it here at Helmsley Walled Garden. It’s that stage of the year (I feel sure you’re familiar with it) when everything grows like mad, including the weeds and there are still lots of plants to go in the ground; annuals, dahlias and so on. The ground is like concrete and there are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything you need to never mind want to.
Things are incredibly busy but even for us it is important to stop and admire colours and shapes. At the moment the Laburnum Arch is just going over and the alliums that have been blazing balls of purple all along the Hot Border and under the arch are slowly tuning into seed heads. The combination of purple and yellow is always spectacular and it is one we repeat throughout the year.
In the borders at Helmsley you’ll see Salvia nemorosa ‘Lubecca’ and Anthemis tinctoria ‘E C Buxton’ at one stage and Lythrum virgatum ‘Dropmore Purple’ and Achillea filipendulina ‘Gold Plate’ at another. Or Iris sibirica ‘Shirley Pope’ against Euphorbia cyparissias ‘Fens Ruby’. Thinking about colour combinations helps to hold your borders together and keep them full of colour and interest all through summer. Blue goes from everything from pale lilac to a dark purple that is almost black and yellow goes from cream to tawny, something like Dahlia ‘David Howard’ flowering later in the year.
You can find yourself with almost too much choice so go for three colours plus white and of course green. Think about flower shape as well as colour. The gorgeous clumps of yellow daisy-like flowers on Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ will make a very different display to Phlox paniculata ‘Mount Fuji’ with its tall stems of star-shaped white flowers. Likewise the round heads of Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation are very different to Lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria with its dark purple foliage and bright red flowers.
Consulting your plant books is a good idea and the internet is always useful. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have a useful website where you can search for a plant and get information on when it blooms, how tall it will get and what conditions it likes.
It takes a bit of effort but it is worth considering all these things as you can plan a beautiful display which will misfire if you don’t time things correctly. I once had a brilliant idea to plant black and white tulips at home. I picked ‘Queen of the Night’ and ‘White Triumphator’. I found out why the usual suggestion is to plant ‘Queen of the Night’ with ‘Maureen’ as they are both single late tulips. ‘White Triumphator’ is a lily flowered tulip and flowers later. It was a lesson well learnt to do my homework.
So I hope that has given you a flavour of what is around. If you fancy a bit of inspiration, the borders here are really starting to fire up. I’m now inspired to get to the plant centre to see what might fill the gaps in my own garden: happy days.
Tricia Harris June 2018