The gar­den in July

Kari-Astri Davies is en­tranced by an ar­ray of strik­ing flow­ers adding colour and in­ter­est to her beds

Landscape (UK) - - Contents -

The gar­den is gen­er­ally left to look af­ter it­self for a while in July. Weeds are hid­den un­der abun­dant fo­liage; the hoe re­mains hung up in the shed. Only wa­ter­ing, an oc­ca­sional bit of dead­head­ing and a weekly mow will be done: lazy days. I am rather taken with the tawny bed at the mo­ment. This part of the north-fac­ing bor­der has seen a num­ber of changes and ad­just­ments in plant­ing over the last cou­ple of years. As it has grown up­wards, the horn­beam hedge is cast­ing shade, which means some of the sun-lovers planted ini­tially are now strug­gling. The bronze fen­nel pre­ferred it when the bor­der was sun­nier, but is hang­ing on. Six were planted in two clumps. Four re­main, giv­ing fuzzy height in the mid­dle of the bed. The old-gold um­bel heads are be­gin­ning to show. Vari­able self-sown seedlings from pur­ple-leaved bi­en­nial an­gel­ica, A. sylvestris ‘Vicar’s Mead’, were planted out this year. The pale-pink flow­ered, pur­ple-strut­ted heads, at chest height, are just com­ing into full flower. This was one of the only beds with­out dahlias. How­ever, it needed some­thing to an­chor the plant­ing from July into the au­tumn. I have added el­e­gant, sin­gle-flow­ered dahlia ‘Ma­genta Star’. Dark fo­liage shows off the scar­let flow­ers of Ly­ch­nis chal­cedonica ‘Mal­tese Cross’ and Lo­belia car­di­nalis. Its lilac flow­ers add mid-level in­ter­est. What re­ally stops me in my tracks in this bed at the mo­ment though is Asi­atic lily ‘Red Vel­vet’, its lus­cious, satiny up­turned flow­ers on tall stems, stand­ing proud. This lily may have been around since 1964, but it is new to me. One web­site says it drives hum­ming­birds wild. That would be a sight to see. Lily bee­tles like it too.

Heav­enly angels

I had never given dierama, an­gel’s fish­ing rods, much thought for my gar­den un­til I saw a huge pink-flow­ered one slap bang in the mid­dle of some­one’s front lawn in Bath. These, gen­er­ally ever­green, plants form mounds of flat-bladed, grass-like leaves. The el­e­gant belled flow­ers, on arch­ing stems, give a won­der­ful, if fleet­ing, dis­play. Last year at this time, I was to­tally wowed at the Wild­side Nurs­ery in Devon. There were large drifts of dierama in white and shades of pink and pur­ple bob­bing and shim­my­ing in the wind: a glo­ri­ous show. The RHS lists the most com­mon, D. pul­cher­ri­mum, as hardy be­tween -5°C to -10°C: H4. I’ve had the top growth of mine die back in win­ter and shoot again from the roots. The ad­vice is to grow them in sun, in soil which stays moist but not wa­ter­logged, par­tic­u­larly over win­ter. ‘Guin­e­vere’, with off-white bells, is planted in a cou­ple of places in the gar­den. There is also an un­named pink, grown from seed with thicker bladed leaves. Chiltern Seeds and Plant World offers a choice of species and cul­ti­var seeds which will flower ap­prox­i­mately 3 years from sow­ing.

“The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem For that sweet odour which doth in it live” Wil­liam shake­speare, ‘Son­net 54’

At­ten­tion seek­ers

Dahlias have had a re­nais­sance, but what about the Shasta daisy? These, mostly white, daises are the re­sult of crosses be­tween Eu­ro­pean na­tive leu­can­the­mums and a Ja­pa­nese species, made by US nurs­ery­man Luther Bur­bank. Named af­ter a moun­tain near his home, his mixed Leu­can­the­mum x su­per­bum were in­tro­duced to the mar­ket in 1901. They are, I sup­pose, a bit ‘love them or loathe them’, as gar­den writer Christo­pher Lloyd ob­served. The blank, star­ing white of the flow­ers and deep green fo­liage can seem over­pow­er­ing. There is also a dis­tinc­tive, slightly musty smell to the flow­ers, which range from crisp singles to more com­plex dou­bled forms. Peak flow­er­ing is July to Au­gust. In the sunny south­fac­ing bor­der, I have the large, sin­gle pale-yel­low flow­ered ‘Son­nen­schein’. Its stems tend to flop about, though. The ir­re­sistibly named ‘Droitwich Beauty’, with large, white, ragged-petalled, semi-dou­ble daisy flow­ers and yel­low cen­tral boss, holds it­self up bet­ter. Christo­pher Lloyd noted that some Shasta daisies flower them­selves to death, not mak­ing enough non-flow­er­ing growth to get through win­ter. Un­for­tu­nately, ‘Sne­hurka’, at the front of the bor­der, which had small white pom-pom flow­ers on shorter up­right stems, top­pling only af­ter tor­ren­tial rain, did just that.

“The Sum­mer looks out from her brazen tower, Through the flash­ing bars of July” Fran­cis Thomp­son, ‘A Co­rym­bus for Au­tumn’

Left to right: Tea awaits on a pret­tily dressed ta­ble in a shady cor­ner; tiny, flat golden heads of fra­grant bronze fen­nel; dahlia ‘Ma­genta Star’ re­veals its beauty; mow­ing among the daisies.

Left to right: A scar­let lily-lov­ing bee­tle, Lil­io­ceris lilii; the dan­gling pink heads of an­gel’s fish­ing rod; Shasta daisy ‘Son­nen­schein’ has cream petalled flow­ers erupt­ing in vig­or­ous clumps.

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