Let’s hear it for the humble nasturtium

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Nasturtium (Tropeaolum majus) are fabulous fillers this time of year, still looking fresh until the Cabbage White caterpillars do their thing (big round of egg laying going on for the past couple of weeks), and then another flush of leaves and flowers in early autumn. Sadly the butterflies don’t distinguish between the common and my more unusual doubles, Darjeeling Gold and Margaret Long.

I didn’t know nasturtiums originally came from South America – misled by the common name Indian Cress. Seed first came into Europe in the 16th Century. Something we take mostly for granted in the garden must have seemed exotic then with their bright colours and trailing habit.

The red is Jewel Cherry Rose, of the two lighter oranges the top one is Empress of India which has slightly darker orange purple tinged leaves. The pale cream is Milkmaid, the yellow (with disappearing fly) is probably from the St Clements seed mix. All apart from the red are self seeded from previous years.

Magnificent Monarda

Monarda Neon

Monarda Neon

Monarda, recently beloved for prairie style plantings and bug  friendliness originate from North America.

Of the older cultivars the red stalwart Cambridge Scarlet is said to date to before 1913 (Rix & Phillips). Schneewitchen and a couple of others date to around the 1950’s and many more have since been bred to meet the demands of the prairie-stylie.

Piet Oudolf has commented that pretty much all monarda become prone to mildew over time, both old and newer cultivars. Neon came from Marina Christopher at Phoenix Perennials a few years ago now and seems to be doing well so far. In a recent Gardens Illustrated article she picks red flowered Jacob Cline as a good do’er. Monardas still prefer some moisture in the soil to grow well, but Oudolf suggests that too much winter wet can see them off too – (Oudolf & Gerritsen).

There’s some reds in the bed

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Not the most flattering shot of the later summer border bit I admit, it’s more for my records. Tradescant (Hugh Johnson) wrote recently he thought many reds a bit shouty in a garden context (paraphrasing here!) I’m experimenting.

In the foreground we have the scarlet Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica) just going over, having flowered since June, (can be a bit floppy in growth, ideally needs plant supports and a chelsea chop). The orange Glads to the right are Hastings. Back to the left is Lobelia cardinalis, newly planted this year and just coming into full flower. The sumptuous lily (must have more) is I think Claude Shride, although it seems to be flowering a lot later than it should, I’m not complaining, it would have been shouty in June. Behind the lily almost hidden from view another taller Gladdy, Espresso.

The bright scarlet Silene Regia has yet to open. Featured in this month’s Gardens Illustrated by Marina Christopher (who I bought it from). She’s right about the foliage, so it’s not just me.

And in my bedding plant area I’m loving the richness of geranium Lord Roberts, a really velvety darker scarlet.

Waiting for rain, it’s been promised – it does seem to have been a dry few weeks here on balance. Much watering to try and keep flagging astilbes upright, glad its not the summer of 1976 – hose bans, etc. The breeze is picking up, it’s started to rain gently…

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