Top Ten Favourite Plants

A notification popped up on my phone earlier this week reminding me that I was intending to write a post about my ten favourite plants. I did this a year ago and decided to repeat the post a year later to see if my favourites had changed. I can’t remember which plants made it to the top ten last year and I’m not going to look until after I’ve selected my current faves!

Number one, I’m pretty sure will have made it on to last year’s shortlist – my Eupatorium.

This dies completely down in the Winter and this is the regrowth so far this Spring. It’s starting to get its trademark purple and dark green leaves. It makes me really happy when this reappears each year.

It should be up at these lofty heights in no time.

Next up, I’m going for Stipa.

This is one of my 50p bargains from a couple of years ago. They seem to be able to cope with anything the elements throw at them. All I do is comb them through every now and then to remove the dead fronds.

Third is Cordyline. I wonder if this made my original list? I’ve added a few more to the garden now. Well, I say added to the garden, two of them are still sitting in their pots waiting for inspiration to hit me on where to plant them.

This one’s in my birthday planter and it’s thriving.

Let’s add some flair for four!

You can’t beat a Dahlia for flair! This one is new in the garden this year.

Continuing with a splash of colour – Gerbera.

This one is new to our garden this year. I couldn’t resist the beautiful bright orange.

This one is now in its third Summer. I didn’t expect it to survive the Winter, but it’s made it through two of them now.

Number six has got to be the loyal Hebe. I’ve got quite a few Hebes dotted around the garden.

This is the first one I ever bought. It’s Hebe Purple Pixie and it was from a sale table. It lives in the shadiest part of our garden and, while I guess it may have got bigger in a sunnier area, it seems quite happy in complete shade. It’s not flowering yet but it will later in the year.

I’m pretty sure number seven will have featured in last year’s pick. It’s the Fuchsia. These were my Grandad’s favourite and I’ve got three (so far!) They’re all starting to flower again, but they haven’t really got going yet.

This one is Fuchsia Delta Sarah. It’s the second one I’ve tried to grow. The first one was fine during the Summer, but didn’t make it through the Winter, despite assurances of hardiness. This second one was from Gardeners’ World Live last year, and I went for the biggest one I could afford to give it the best chance of survival. And survive it has!

This one could maybe do with repotting in a bigger pot. This is its third or maybe even fourth year and I think it would benefit from a tad more room.

Definitely a new favourite this year is Aquilegia. I know for definite that this won’t have been included last year because I only discovered it this year when it grew uninvited, but far from unwelcome, around the garden.

I did try to grow it from seed last year but completely failed. I don’t know if I then left the seeds somewhere where they could float off in the wind to germinate where they now are, or it if they’re a happy coincidence sent to us by the birds.

Number nine is my unidentified love. It may be a Cotoneaster, but it has never had any berries, so I’m not sure.

It was £1.50 from B&M about four years ago and it was in a completely unmarked pot. I left it in its pot for quite a while hoping that something would happen to help me identify it, but it didn’t, so eventually I planted it behind my raised strawberry bed, and it’s doing really really well. It’s certainly grown considerably and it has lovely dainty leaves. I go and see it most times that I’m in the garden, just to check it’s ok. I kind of wish I’d put it somewhere a bit more prominent now, but a it seems happy where it is, I’m going to leave it rather than risk moving it. Hopefully it’ll continue to thrive.

I’m going to finish with a classic. The Rose.

This one is my first ever Rose. My Mum bought it for us when we moved into our house, and it’s Rose Hot Chocolate. It didn’t flower much for the first few years, maybe one or two flowers per year, but last year it flowered repeatedly all Summer, and it looks like it’ll follow suit this year.

These two are my sale table patio Roses which are doing really well. I should’ve pruned them back into their cocktail glass shape, but by the time I thought about it they’d already got buds and I couldn’t bring myself to cut the buds off. I’ll do it when they’re done flowering.

Right! I’m going to compare to last year now!

Interesting! I have five matches – Fuchsia, Hebe, Cordyline, Eupatorium and Stipa. My other five last year were Daffodil, Diascia Cherry Blossom, Erysimum, Blue Festuca and Geum. I did consider all of those to include this year too because I do love them still.

Here they all are!

I’m off to do some crochet now as the garden is off limits today as it’s finally enjoying some rainfall.

Six on Saturday 30th May – a Jamaican Affair

So right about now we should be about twenty minutes into our flight to Jamaica but instead, ‘wat a gwaan?’ That’s Jamaican for what’s going on? (apparently!) We’re having a non-Jamaican lockdown party for two instead. We’ve got Bob Marley playing on repeat, we’ve got all sorts of Jamaican themed food and beverages planned, and this happened in the garden earlier.

So I’ve decided that the theme for this week’s Six is yellow, green and black in honour of the Jamaican flag. Yellow and green is obviously easy to find in the garden, but I’ve had to be a bit more creative with the black!

First up is this lovely Pansy which is yellow and as close to black as you generally see in nature. I’ve added a lot of pots filled with bright bedding plants to the garden this year. It’s nice to have the time to spend titifying the garden at the moment (although I would really like some normality soon). At least the weather’s good so we can all get out into our gardens for some light relief (those of us that are lucky enough to have them, of course).

I’m counting this next photo as green and black (like the chocolate – yum!) Well, it’s green runner bean plants in a black flexi-tub! I hardened these off for a few days early in the week and planted them out on Friday. It’s my first time growing runner beans so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good crop. You can’t see, but I drilled lots of holes in the flexi-tub for drainage.

I may have included this Geum in a Six before, but it’s beautiful and it fits in with my theme so I hope you don’t mind seeing it again. It was a sale table find last year and, as so often happens with sale table plants, it didn’t do a lot last year, but this year it’s covered in flowers and the bees love it. My other Geum (Totally Tangerine) has just five petals per flower, but this one is wonderfully layered and was a real surprise because I was expecting similar blooms to Miss Tangerine.

Next I’ve included another green and black offering, my gorgeous Pittosporum. I’ve a feeling I paid full price for this because I just couldn’t resist the contrast of the two colours of leaf. It lives quite happily in a container by our swing chair so we can enjoy it while swinging (that sounds wrong!)

Here’s some green. These are Nigella seedlings that have, overnight, developed their first true leaves. I sowed these in a pot and they’ve been in the greenhouse ever since. I think I need to do some research to see if I need to thin the seedlings out. There are rather a lot of them.

I’ll finish with more yellow. I guess many people would count Buttercups as weeds, but they’re bright and cheery so I’ve left some of them this year. They remind me of my childhood too – who hasn’t held a buttercup under their best friend’s chin to find out if they like butter or not?

Right, I’ll get back to my non-Jamaican party now. It’s nearly midday so it’s almost acceptable to have a Pina Colada, right? 🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲

Don’t forget to pop over to see the Propagator for more (probably not Jamaican themed) Sixes.

Six on Saturday 23rd May

Here we are on Saturday again. I seem to be punctuating my weeks in Groundhog Day fashion, and this is the only way I know what day it is! If the good R.P speakers of the BBC are reminding me to go and clap at the door, it must be Thursday. If an email from the Propagator (check out his blog for more Sixes) arrives in my inbox, more likely than not, it’s Saturday and time to find photos and luckily I keep that in my mind long enough to video call our friends on Sunday evening to take part in our weekly quiz.

Anyway, the email arrived this morning so here I am again with the latest update from our garden aka our lockdown sanctuary. This week we’ve certainly been making the most of it. We’ve managed to almost break the swingball through, probably, too vigorous whacking of the ball (and so far replacement parts seem unobtainable so we may have to improvise) and we’ve introduced lots more colour and generally made the garden an even more pleasant and fulfilling space to be in than it already was.

This week’s Six are a tad eclectic so bear with me!

The common theme of the first four points is mail order! Is it just us, or is anyone else’s garage rapidly filling up with cardboard boxes from deliveries because there’s not enough space in their recycling bin and they can’t bear the thought of sitting for hours in a queue for the tip?

1. Solar powered lights from QVC. I discovered last week that QVC have gardening hours and I promptly spent lots of money! I think it was well worth it for these lights (although I do feel it necessary to point out that, good as they are, my phone enhanced the amount of light emitted in the photo).

I really love our little bistro, and we’ve certainly made good use of it these past weeks. A couple of years ago it was an overgrown mess, but I took a week off work and transformed it and have been slowly adding to it and perfecting it ever since.

2. Battery powered lights and bunting around our patio. We have a brick built, somewhat dilapidated, garage/storage area/gardeners’ loo next to our patio area and I decided it needed a bit of zhuzhing up.

I found the lights and bunting on good old Amazon, and with Prime they were delivered less than twenty four hours later. I decided to go for battery power this time because this area doesn’t benefit from being in the sun as much as the bistro so solar power may not have worked. I’m considering painting the bricks white to lighten up the whole area, but I’m still pondering on that.

3. Lazy Flora and Blooming Direct deliveries. I received a lucky dip box from Lazy Flora this week. I got an Osteospurmum, a Dianthus, two Pelargoniums, a Verbena and something unidentified which hopefully will flower and give me a clue.

The Osteospurmum, Dianthus, Verbena and John Doe I put in the planter above, which housed a very unsuccessful courgette plant last year, and I added a Cordyline which I picked up from Homebase last week, for some height. Although I watered the lucky dip plants as soon as they arrived, and planted them the next day, they don’t look overly happy! I’m hoping they’ll pick up with some tlc.

As well as the variegated grass at the front and the Silver Dust at the back (that’s gone a bit crazy), this pot originally had a tiny fir that should’ve grown to about two feet tall and a Heuchera. The Heuchera got dug up by something and died before I noticed and the fir was looking decidedly brown and sorry for itself so I replaced them with the final two lucky dippers, the Pelargoniums, and Grass Red Baron which was delivered by Blooming Direct. It doesn’t look very red at the moment, but if it thrives it should reward me with red tipped fronds.

4. A barbecue. We’ve been debating for the past week whether to get a gas barbecue or a charcoal one (as our old one was cheap and nasty and partly broke on the day we got it!) and today we finally decided to go for a charcoal one, so I nipped up to Homebase, and this is what I came back with! I did get the barbecue as well (and a pizza stone – very much looking forward to using that).

I bought a Lupin from Homebase last week when they first reopened and hubby has since declared it his favourite flower in the garden, so when I saw the one above on the sale table, I decided to rescue it for him. The flower that’s blooming looks like it’s past its best, but the leaves are fine and there are a couple more flowers coming through. There’s definitely plenty of life left in it yet, with care. The Campanula and smaller Dahlias will fill a space in the front garden.

I absolutely couldn’t resist this Dahlia. So beautiful and vibrant! I bought it its own new terracotta pot and I’ll plant it tomorrow and most likely it’ll get added to our bistro so we can enjoy it while we’re sitting in the sunshine next week.

This Gerbera also fell into my trolley. I love orange in the garden. It really pops. This really bright orange is opposite green on the colour wheel so that’s why it stands out so much.

5. Honeysuckle. This plant will forever make me think of Pooh Bear. When Pooh is stuck in Rabbit’s door on account of his stoutness, Kanga and Roo visit him while he’s waiting to get thin again, and bring him some flowers. When Roo produces them from Kanga’s pouch, Pooh exclaims ‘Honeysuckle’ and makes to eat them, but Kanga quickly puts him straight by laughingly saying ‘Oh no Pooh, you don’t eat them, you smell them’. ‘Oh’ says Pooh.

This one was a tiny plant when it went in the ground last year but it’s thrived and has produced its first flowers this year. I’ve got a trellis for it that I need to put up (also from Blooming Direct). It lives behind my raised strawberry bed, the idea being that it livens up the bare fence behind.

6. Another bee! I do like photographing bees going about their busyness (sorry!) but I often end up hovering, somewhat bee-like, for ages trying to get the perfect shot. Today, however, this bee flew over and settled on the very Lavender flower that I was taking a photo of. How very convenient and compliant of it! Maybe it was the one I saved a few weeks ago with sugar water saying thanks!

I love this Lavender – it reminds me of the Ugly Sisters from Cinderella (even though it is far from ugly!)

See what I mean?

I hope everyone’s keeping well and managing to get in lots of garden time. It really is good for the soul, especially at the moment.