With the first hint of autumn, the garden is looking decidedly tired in places
but the tropical border at least is putting on a show. It doesn’t come into its own until quite late in the season and during this hot, dry Sussex summer it has needed almost daily watering.
I added plenty of well-rotted manure and garden compost before I began planting in early May
By mid July the pace has picked up. Many of these plants need support and in the foreground is one of six metal display stands which I fished out of a skip at a garden centre. They are perfect for growing dahlias through and in time will be completely hidden.
At the end of July, Lilium pardalinum is in flower
as are spider daylilies. I’ve introduced three varieties into the front of the border but ‘Stoplight’ is the only one to flower this year.
I thought these exotic-looking enough to work here. (I met Pollie of Pollie’s Daylilies via twitter and her website is well worth a visit. She holds the national collection of Spiders and has an amazing array of all Hemerocallis – and she did me a good deal! Thanks Pollie).
By August one of the red bananas is taller than me (I worry how on Earth I shall move it to the greenhouse)
and the two dahlias in the bed are flowering furiously.
Last year, I only grew ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ but this year
I’ve added ‘Smarty’ too.
There are three cannas in the bed: C. coccinea (which has grown much taller than last year but doesn’t need staking).
Here it is with its knees hidden by Gaura lindheimeri.
C. ‘Red King Humbert’ is repeated throughout the bed with lovely bronze foliage and orange flowers.
Next year, I shall rejig the planting – some of the foliage plants aren’t as obvious as I would have liked.
The two Melianthus major at the back of the border are barely visible but as they are still growing strongly that may change.
Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ is producing large palmate leaves and sending out lots of suckers but its impact is possibly lost against a mound of honeysuckle. I did consider removing the latter but the scent is so strong it embraces most of the bed.
And the two Colocasia esculenta are a little cramped. I thought I’d provided them with enough room but obviously not.
Last autumn, I either left Musa basjoo to be killed back to ground level by cold or carted them off to the greenhouse. This year I shall leave them be but protect the stems against frost and have much taller plants next year.
At the front of the bed are various smaller plants; including three very kindly given to me by the boys at ‘Alternative Eden‘
and the leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureomaculata”) which I do grow in shade. I know the blotched leaves aren’t to everyone’s taste … but I love it.
And at the rear is my favourite salvia, the unfortunately named bog sage, S. uliginosa. A tall, graceful beauty with pale blue flowers which last right through to the first frost. (It also isn’t reliably hardy at the Priory and again, I pop it under glass). I shall bring it to the front of the border next year.
Last year, in September, the border looked like this.
This year it has filled out considerably and as we waltz into September it is rewarding to have a part of the garden that really zings and grabs the attention of visitors. Subtle and restrained it is not. The border is still very much a work in progress with plenty of editing and re-shuffling needed next year. But in the meantime, its exuberance and colour will hopefully last for at least another month and quite possibly well into October.
(With many thanks for the inspiration of Christopher Lloyd and Great Dixter).