In this issue of Six on Saturday I would like to look back at the summer garden and write about my favorite flowers of the year 2017. If you are wondering what Six on Saturday is, read my blog post here. During Christmas break I enjoyed reading “Down to Earth” book by Monty Don. In the chapter on the small town garden, he writes:
Very few gardens are big enough to hold half the plants we would like to grow and most of us have to dramatically limit our range.
In my London garden the space is limited and even if it is almost impossible, I have to be ruthless and select best performing plants. Here are the winners of 2017 in the flower display!
If I could only grow one perennial flower, it would be dahlia. Myriad of forms, shapes and colours exists in dahlia’s world. On Twitter you can find countless photos of beautiful flowers under popular #dahlialove and #dahliawars hashtags. I like Love and War connection here. It unites people in their passion for dahlias but it is also a bit competitive as we strive to grow the most “perfect” dahlia yet.
Last spring I bought seven tubers from Wilko and was ready for Dahlia Wars. I potted them up in March in a cold frame and planted them out in the middle of April. Arabian Night, Mystery Day and Tsuki Yori No Shisha dahlias found home in the front garden and were greeting me cheerfully with a colourful mix of bright red and white until the middle of November. Softer yellow and orange tones of Kevin Floodlight, Colour Spectacle and Seattle dahlias were looking nice among tomatoes, sweetcorn and beans in the veg patch.
Following #dahlialove posts on Twitter I found two more “perfect” dahlias to put on my wish list: warm cream Café au Lait and peachy orange and pink Labyrinth.
I love Cosmos plants because they are so trouble-free!
You sow seeds in April and forget about them and plants reward you with beautiful daisy-like flowers well into the autumn. Their golden centres rich with the nectar are loved by bumblebees and honey bees. In Japan, cosmos is the seasonal word for autumn and its Japanese name is ‘akizakura’ 秋桜, aki means autumn and zakura from sakura or cherry blossom.
Summer Sensation on the photo is a tall variety with white, pink and carmine flowers which a bit unruly but I like it. Large flower heads are waving gently in the summer breeze and stand out nicely against the blue sky.
This year I am adding Cosmos Xanthos, first yellow-flowered variety, to soften bright tones of my white, cream and orange dahlias in the borders or maybe I will mix it with Zinnia Envy.
2016 was Year of Cosmos, and I have read an interesting article on The Telegraph on “Everything you need to know about cosmos, the flower of 2016“. I really enjoyed a story about the chocolate cosmos and its almost complete disappearance from seed catalogues and garden centres in 1950s.
I didn’t plan to grow asters last year, I was always more fond of chrysanthemums, another Japan most celebrated fall flower. Intimidated by lack of greenhouse to grow showy mums, I have decided to try asters. Aster Duchess with its bold colours and large, in-curved petals reminded me of chrysanthemums a lot.
This variety is about 60cm tall but mine has only grown up to 20cm, hardly a stunning display I hoped for! Yet, my little asters had a trick upon their sleeve – they started flowering on my birthday in October. I loved their pale white, delicate blue and light purple flowers with a hint of yellow in the middle. So everything was forgiven and I will be trying them again this summer together with mini chrysanthemums I spotted on my favourite Instagram account The Gardening Good Life.
Venidium also known as a Cape Daisy or Monarch of the Veldt is native to South Africa and maybe not very well known in British gardens. Variety Jaffa Ice produces gorgeous orange and white (see the top image) blooms. I cannot get enough of its center disc, dazzling shiny black with orange, violet and white highlights! With a white flower it’s actually very hard to tell the colour of the disk – is it black or dark purple, or is it constantly changing with the sunlight?
Venidium seedlings are slow to develop and my advice is to sow seeds in the beginning of February for blooms in the early summer.
They make brilliant cut flowers looking glorious in a vase combined with dahlias!
Last spring I didn’t have much success with scabiosa, three plants were painstakingly raised from a whole packet of seeds. “What a disaster” I thought. “I can’t even grow simple Scabious!”
In autumn, determine not to give up, I sowed newly acquired seeds from Mr Fothergills, variety Tall Double Mixed. Seeds germinated quickly and now I have plenty of healthy seedlings over wintering in a mini greenhouse.
Scabiosa flowers are supposed to be highly attractive to butterflies and bees… but I have only seen tiny hoverflies hovering around and collecting nectar. I do enjoy a lovely fragrance of Ebony and Ivory variety (on the photo) though.
6. Primula capitata Noverna Deep Blue
I imagine Primula capitata or round-headed Himalayan primrose as a lost princess from far away lands of Bhutan and Tibet. Deep purple flowers covered with silvery farina like icing sugar on the top of a cupcake and even a tall steam is completely white.
Like a spoiled princess it was hard to grow from seed. Only two plants survived but they were worth it! The flowers are nothing like I expected, rich purple colour is amazing and I can’t help to touch them slightly to get some white farina on my hands.
After my primrose finished flowering in November, I potted up two plants and kept growing them in the mini greenhouse. Each plant developed two rosettes which I am planning to separate in the spring.
I am also excited to grow some new hardy perennials, Astrantia Ruby Cloud, Achillea Cassis, Rudbeckia Chocolate Orange and Helenium Autumn Leaves, and introduce even more summer colours in my small London garden!
I would like to hear about your successes and failures in growing flowers and also looking forward to reading all Six on Saturday posts over the weekend!