Sunday, September 21, 2014


In my last post I mentioned that I was a couple of days away from Hedychium gardnerianum flowering.  It's now fully out - and looking spectacular.

Fully mature spike of Hedychium gardnerianum
Kahili ginger, from the Himalayas in India, Nepal and Bhutan, has got to be one of the most exotic hardy(ish) perennial plants that can be grown in UK gardens.  It's not quite as tough as H.coccineum 'Tara' that I illustrated in the last post but the flower spike is twice the size.  Longer and far fatter, it makes an even greater impact in the September garden.  As part of my exotic theme I've grown it for a number of years, feared I'd lost it in some recent bad winters, but it's always come back but not always flowered.  This year has been an exception.  The mild conditions last winter allowed the pseudostems and their broad, glaucous leaves to overwinter.  That triggers better growth in the new stems and one has now come to full development.

I grow mine in a pot to give a better chance of flowering.  It also allows me to protect the plant if winter does get harsh.  All of which means I can move it around if needed.  Currently it's close by my plant of Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'.  Together they make a fantastic combination.

Hedychium gardnerianum grows alongside Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'
A broader view includes Hedychium greenii.  My plant of Chaemerops humilis sits below Acca sellowiana and Phyllostachys nigra in the background.

Hedychium gardnerianum in this view over the gravel circle in the rear garden
Get closer to the plant - but only in the evening - and the sweet scent that is designed to attract night flying moths hits from feet away.

Hardiness is a relative thing, of course.  This ginger is certainly root - well, rhizome - hardy through most of lowland UK, particulalrly if well mulched.  The evergreen top growth isn't hardy except in very mild winters - but new growth will certainly come from the fat rhizomes by the end of May.  The race is then on to produce flowers before winter sets in.  Good weather this year has allowed growth - and the result has been glorious.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Blogger's Blooms Day September 2014

Time again to look at what's in flower in my small Plymouth garden for Garden Bloggers' Bloom day.  So, on September 15th 2014, here's some of what's in bloom.

It's been fairly warm and sunny recently though there is a definite whiff of Autumn in the air.  Even down in the milder South West of England there are the beginnings of autumn colour and leaf drop.  Fortunately my more exotic plants don't recognise the approach of winter and will continue to flower till the frosts.  Add to that some true Autumn specialities and I'll still have colour and interest well into the death of the year.

One autumn speciality is Hedychium coccineum 'Tara', one of the hardiest and also one of the most spectacular of the ginger lilies.  The size of the flower head is dependent on the strength of the annual stem.  My little clump is good this year, probably because last years stems remained evergreen through the winter with the virtual absence of frost.

Hedychium coccineum 'Tara'
From ground level each of the pseudostems reaches about 5-6ft / 150-180cm in height before producing a terminal flower spike.  This produces a small succession of flowers to keep an individual spike interesting for about two to three weeks.  Add impressive foliage and what more could you want in a garden plant?  Not scented unfortunately, unlike H.gardnerianum - which may be a parent if this variety is, as suspected, actually a hybrid.  That's just putting out it's own flowers - but they're not open (tomorrow or Wednesday) so I can't include it this month.

But I can include Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert', one of the reliable Japanese anemones that do so much to brighten the approach of Autumn.

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
I keep adding plants (it's all getting a little crowded at this time of year) and one addition has done well so far.  It's a double flowered version of the coneflower, Echinacea purpurea 'Double Scoop Raspberry'.  A pretty thing that I hope will survive my winter wet and fairly heavy soil (lots of daisies don't!).

Echinacea purpurea 'Double Scoop Raspberry'
Begonia grandis var. evansiana, the hardy begonia, is a little too successful here.  I have to keep discarding plants otherwise it takes over.  I grow both pink and white varieties but the one I'm illustrating is the white, shown here backed by Musa basjoo, the hardy banana.  Acer palmatum dissectum is to the left in this shot across my little gravel circle.

Begonia grandis var. evansiana underplanting Musa basjoo
My two English roses, 'Summer Song' and 'Graham Thomas' are both doing well.  Here's 'Summer Song', photographed earlier this year, but in flower today.  It's a favourite shot of mine.

English Rose 'Summer Song'
My two Abutilons, 'Waltz' and 'Patrick Synge' keep on flowering, as does the hardy passion flower, Passiflora caerulea.  Hardy is a relative term of course, but Dad used to grow it in his garden in North Lincolnshire and that got pretty cold.  Down here it flourishes, twining annually into my cherry tree, usually reaching 12-15ft / 4 -5m before sending out trailing liana like stems with flowers opening progressively along their length.

Passiflora caerulea
Ipomea indica, my other exotic autumn flowering climber hasn't done so well this year.  Last year's winter wet probably had an effect.  However, it's flowering now so here's a more abstract close-up to disguise the fact that I've only had a couple of flowers so far this year.
Ipomea indica
One shrub I added when I first laid out the garden is Abelia x grandiflora.  I don't think I've illustrated it before so here's a shot.  Evergreen, fairly easy - but simple to overlook when more spectacular plants are in flower.

Abelia x grandiflora
I've got a number of hardy geraniums in the garden but I'm having to rescue a few of them from too shady spots.  As any garden matures, the shade encroaches and even shade tolerant plants fail to flower.  I'll be doing some clearance over the winter so a number have been potted up ready for replanting.  One that needs a move is Geranium wlassovianum.  Pretty flower, good autumn colour, but beginning to be shaded out.

Geranium wlassovianum

I've a number of fuchsias in flower, all of which I've illustrated before and may well do again in October, Begonia 'Bonfire' and other bedding begonias, but these are starting to fade now.  There are fat buds on Tibouchina organensis, Camellia sasanqua and Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'.  I've three more Hedychiums to flower before the year's end and the cycle begins again.  All of which marks the end of another Garden Blogger's Blooms Day.  As ever, my thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme.  Head over there to see what's flowering in many more gardens round the world.