Chrysanthemum ‘Avignon Pink’

Chrysanthemum Pink Avignon

I meet many people who turn their noses up at Chrysanthemums.  Undoubtedly, the gaudier selections at supermarkets and petrol stations are not the best advertisement for these flowers.

If you grow them yourself, however, you can find some amazing varieties for autumnal flower arrangements.  Very soon, my dahlias will collapse under a keen frost, yet the Chrysanthemums can keep going well into November.   Occasionally I’ve even been able to use some in my Christmas decorations.

This year I have grown my usual selection of russet and orange chrysanths but I have added this dusky pink one called ‘Avignon Pink’ into the mix.  I think it’s gorgeous and as someone pointed out to me on Twitter, the flower form is not unlike a Dahlia.

I bought these as inexpensive plug plants from Sarah Raven flowers.  Once they’ve stopped flowering and look a bit bedraggled, I’ll cut them back, dig them up, pot them up and put them in my cool greenhouse.  That effort shows how much I like them.  I have also been known to leave Chrysanths in the ground, mulched with compost, and they did manage to survive the winter.

Toad Lily ‘Pink Freckles’

I’ll have to look up how pretty plant got an amphibian name.  Toad Lily is certainly easier to say than the latin name Tricyrtis, however.  Try as I might I can’t say Tricyrtis.

I bought this plant with a number of other shade lovers back in May and planted it along my shady top path.  The other plants in this area have done their thing and my focus has been elsewhere.  This week I went up there to plant some daffodil bulbs and spotted the Toad Lily was flowering.

The flowers are small, but when you take the time to get close to them you see how exquisite they are. Six fleshy petals, speckled with purple spots, open up around an arrangement of stamen and anthers that resembles a tropical palm tree.  Having survived our dry summer with little watering, I’m thinking my little Toad is happy in its shady home and will clump up merrily to provide more of these beautiful flowers for years to come.

Erythrinum ER

This plant is in the Emergency Room.  The defribulator has just been deployed and it has a weak but detectable heartbeat.

The patient is an unusual plant that I bought at Hampton Court Flower Show.  It came from a company called Plantbase, which nurtures many unusual and attractive plants.

It’s called  Erythrinum latissima and had huge furry leaves with evil spikes dotted along the leaf veins.  I knew it may be tricky to grow but with a spiky defence mechanism like that I though it would take a clever foe to overcome it.  Sadly, it became the main victim of the Red Spider Mite invasion that took hold in my greenhouse whilst I was on holiday.

Erithrynum Latissima

Erithrynum latissima

Every leaf curled up and dropped off.

I wasn’t ready to give up on it so the horticultural paramedic in me swung into action. I pruned away all the dead leaves and damaged stem, leaving just a thin stump behind.  Whilst in theory the light and warmth of the greenhouse should do it some good, I was very worried that I wasn’t on top of the red spider mites.  Instead I designated a corner of the sitting room as the ER.   Here, by a bright window, it is safe from pests, gets even temperatures and plenty of light.  In the past two weeks a few tiny leaves have started to unfurl, a fraction of the size of what they should become, but they look healthy for now.

I’d say its critical but stable and I’m hoping it’ll pull through.

New Tree – Cercis CanadensisNewly planted Cercis canadensis

Following the works to build my greenhouse I managed to create this new bed and thought it would be a great location for a tree.  I love planting trees but I was procrastinating about what to buy.  I had to kill an hour last Sunday away from home and accidentally turned into a garden centre.  I spotted this tree and bought it.  Admittedly, I had thought I was buying a Judas Tree, Cercis siliquastrum.  In the rush of excitement at being alone in garden centre, with a credit card, I picked up a Redbud Tree, Cercis canadensis instead.  Redbuds are from the eastern seaboard of Northern America, whereas the Judas Tree is from Southern Europe and Western Asia.

I love both trees and they share beautiful pink flowers, emerging from leafless branches in spring.  The leaves are heart shaped and as they turn yellow, appear to be dripping from the tree.  I love it already.

New border – planting underwayNewly planted border of herbaceous perennials

You may just be able to see the Cercis in its little bed at the far end of this border, which I presented as a blank canvas in my Six on Saturday two weeks ago.

Last saturday was a glorious warm day and an absence of family duties meant I had a clear run at breaking the back of the planting here.  It’s probably hard to tell from the picture what’s in here.  It’s a mix of plants that had been here before my building works – Iris, two types of Cranesbill, some delphiniums and some tall Leucanthemum daisies.  I didn’t plan in advance where to put everything but by repeating the different flowers at intervals down the border, I’m hoping it will hang together.

I have some grasses to put here too.  I’ll plant these once I have worked out the best technique for drifting them through the other plants.  I think it’ll be case of placing them, standing back and moving them around until I am happy with the look.  It’ll take some imagination as I will need to picture how tall the other plants will be and how they’ll look near the grasses.

Rose 'Lark Ascending' Flower

Rose ‘Lark Ascending’ Flower

The keen-eyed amongst you will have spotted some bamboo canes stuck in the soil.  These are where I’ll be planting some bare rooted roses in November.  It’s a tall variety called ‘Lark Ascending’ which I’ve shared on these pages before.  A pearlescent apricot colour, I think it’ll add a glamourous shot of contrasting colour to the purples, blues and whites of the other plants here.

Dancing fuchsias

Hardy fuchsia

My parents had a row of these hardy fuchsia bushes under a bay window at our house in Sheffield.  They were dripping in flowers every summer and I thought they were fabulous.  I had dreams of being a ballerina and the flowers reminded me of the beautiful ladies in tutus I’d seen on stage when I’d been taken to the ballet as a Christmas treat.

My vision of ballet stardom was short-lived.  Being cast as a frog in our Beatrix Potter themed ballet show rather killed that dream.  I still love these flowers though.

This little ensemble was dancing in the breeze and delighting me yesterday.


Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.