Talking to visitors about the plants in the garden got me thinking about show stoppers. The sort of plant that make you stop dead in your tracks and say wow. There are definitely some visitor favourites: one would be Lychnis chalcedonica in the Gravel Garden and Hot Border, tall with bright scarlet flowers it catches everyone’s attention and I have a very soft spot for it growing it at home as well as putting new plants into the Hot Border at every opportunity to bulk up the display.
Another of my favourites that visitors ask about is Achillea “Gold Plate” on the Hot Border. It has the familiar umbel of tiny flowers but they are so tightly packed together they form a plate of vibrant yellow. Anyone who follows the gardens social media will know that the annual appearance of this plant is something I post about a lot! Well who could resist, certainly not me.
One fabulous scented showstopper is Rosa “Gertrude Jekyll” in Alison’s Garden. I was about to say that normally I’m not overly keen on pink flowers. But then I remembered the startlingly vibrant pink Achillea “Cerise Queen” I’ve just planted in the Hot Border and then Lychnis coronaria, common name rose campion which is a more deep velvety cerise. Anyway, I digress, Gertrude is an old-fashioned looking rose that was actually bred by David Austin in 1986. An English shrub rose, it’s colour is a deep, deep pink and oh the scent; it will truly take your breath away. Gertrude is a bit thorny but the beauty of her flowers means she should not be missed.
I have great fondness for Kniphofia rooperi or Red Hot Poker, in the West and Hot Borders. It’s a bit of a marmite plant for many people but it is (along with Dicentra formosa) one of the first flowers I can remember. It grew in the garden of my extreme youth and, I don’t know, maybe it was it’s very brashness, tall, slightly angular flowers in the brightest of oranges that made it appeal. Either way I had to plant it in my garden at home and was bereft when it didn’t thrive. When it refused to flower for the third year in a row I dug it up and planted it in my neighbour’s front garden. To my chagrin it flowered profusely from the word go. It obviously prefers it next door and I am still miffed.
One gorgeous perennial that comes along slightly later in the summer is Helenium “Moerheim Beauty”. It has daisy-like flowers with the most striking coppery-red petals and a dark centre. Flowering from late July onwards with dead-heading it goes on and on. H. “Sahin’s Early Flowerer” as its name suggests flowers earlier but is more yellowy. Equally striking at a height of 50cm – 1 metre high, these two give real continuity to a border making sure the show goes on right through summer.
There are a lot of beautiful perennial Rudbeckias such as “Goldsturm” or R. fulgida, but the one that has a special place in my heart is annual R. “Cherry Brandy”. It has deep, dark crimson petals that look almost the colour of chocolate they are so deep and rich, again with a dark centre. Annuals they may be but they flower for ages. They do need to be sown under cover and not put out until all danger of front has passed.
I hope you’ll try out one or two of these and maybe, if you see me in a flower bed here, come and tell me some of your favourites. Enjoy your garden.
Tricia Harris August 2019