Six on Saturday – 14/8/2021

While there are still lots of plants to choose from for inclusion in a saturday six, the garden as a whole is beginning to look a bit ragged around the edges. When things have finished for the season, they either sit there looking finished or get cut down leaving a gap. It’s getting late for second flushes but I’m hoping to get a bit more from Calendulas and Antirrhinum, having chopped them back earlier. I seem to have taken pictures of 13 contenders this week, time to select the winners and losers.

Oreganum vulgare ‘Aureum’. This wins hands down for most popular plant for insects. Earlier in the week there were 10 Gatekeeper butterflies among the many bees. It must produce nectar at a prodigious rate. The plant itself looks great early in the year, making a tidy yellow mat of foliage. Now that it’s flowering it’s relatively scruffy, but it’s easy to forgive. I don’t know what the other thing, a hover fly perhaps.

We wouldn’t want to be without Plectranthus argentatus. This is a very big pot with four or five plants in it. For my money it’s all about the foliage but if you look closely its flower spikes are just starting to extend. I think it looks better without and would remove them but I get overruled in this so they will soon be flowering. The pot sits on a tree stump and does a good job of disguising it.

Veratrum nigrum is a plant that I grew from seed many years ago. I think it has flowered before but it certainly hasn’t in recent years, mainly because the slugs give it a constant mauling. It’s around five feet tall so a decent clump would make something of a statement. One flower stem is a start. It seems to be fly pollinated and unsurprisingly doesn’t smell too good.

Indigofera pendula has had several of our garden visitors scribbling in their notebooks. It was blown about pretty badly last winter so I cut it back quite hard and staked it. It was very slow to get going this spring and I was getting a bit nervous but It’s come good, made 3 feet of new growth with a flower raceme up to 17 inches long at every node.

Fuchsia hatschbatchii. When it comes to plants there are gardeners who like just about anything and couldn’t wind themselves up to really dislike a plant, even if they wouldn’t plant it in their own garden. Then there are gardeners who don’t like Dahlias, or yellow, or Fuchsias. My response to the last is “what, all fuchsias, what about hatschbatchii?” In many cases they are confronted by a plant that just doesn’t have any of the characteristics for which they dislike fuchsias. It doesn’t have flowers of fuchsia pink, in vulgar quantities, on an inelegant lumpy bush with very ordinary, disease prone foliage. Instead it’s growth is slender, elegant, with narrow dark glossy leaves and flowers to match. Needless to say, some of the fuchsias we grow do have flowers of fuchsia pink, in vulgar quantities, on an inelegant lumpy bush with very ordinary, disease prone foliage and we love them too.

Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Transparent’, to give it its full title. I once envisioned a mass planting of Stipa gigantea, but went off the idea after seeing it done at Logan Botanic Garden, not because it wasn’t fantastic, just because it had already been done. This would be a very good alternative. There’s another form called ‘Skyracer’, which is more upright and taller, maybe I need one of them. My ‘Transparent’ is around 7 feet.

I just went out for a walk round the garden and it struck me that there is a lot of colour from Dahlias, Penstemons, Begonias, Hydrangeas, Fuchsias, Clematis, Salvias, Agapanthus and a few others, none of which feature in the six I’ve chosen, except the understated Fuchsia. It seems I like the full spectrum of flavours offered by plants but tend to focus on a narrower range at any one time. In a sense the six above are six on thursday and if I’d actually gone round with my camera this morning, on the allotted day, a very different set would have been the result. There’s always next week.
Right, link to the Propagator, host and hub for Sixers everywhere. Quick check to see what I’ve forgotten, (categories, tags) then publish.

28 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 14/8/2021

  1. Rather stupidly, I left my Fuchsia hatschbatchii behind. I think I had reached capacity, or rather OH had. Adore the plectranthus. I have tried veratrum but was defeated by the S&S, wonderful foliage, not so sure about the flowers.


  2. Funnily enough, I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon lying on the lawn taking photographs of the various visitors to ‘Aureum’. I was toying with the idea of doing next week’s Six purely on that one plant, so enthused was I! I still haven’t ruled it out. Various bees, a very similar looking hoverfly, a moth, but no butterflies yet. In previous years, like you, I’ve had a number of gatekeepers, but non this year so far.

    Elsewhere, I can see why you’re keen on the Fuschia – it has a little more subtlety than some!


  3. Your golden oregano is interesting. I’ve had mine for years and it doesn’t bloom. Maybe there is a variety that doesn’t. Well, I guess there must be a variety that doesn’t! That does keep it tidier than my other oreganos. I know what you mean, when they bloom it’s all I can do not to cut them off and leave them for the bees.


    1. There do seem to be a few yellow forms of Oregano, and one or two Marjorams too, though I can’t find any reference to a non flowering form. These days I’d rather have bees than tidiness; it wasn’t always that way.


  4. I grow Indigifera pendula too and garden visitors are always drawn to it. You don’t find it very often. I always like to see your fuchsias you have such an enormous range of different ones.


  5. The oregano photo is great with the Gatekeeper butterfly. I did once look up Veratrum seed but was put off by the time it takes to get to maturity (I think 5 years). I can now add slugs to the list of downsides. It’s a striking plant though and the pleated leaves are handsome.


  6. Gee, I needed to look up Indigofera pendula because I could not remember where in North America it is native to. I had no idea that there were other options. Well, that is new to me.
    There is something here that is commonly known as false indigofera, which I think is a silly name, since the real ones are not native here. These false ones are all we get, so are plenty real to me.


    1. Turns out I grow false indigo in the shape of Baptisia australis and didn’t know it was called that. Then again, Amorpha fruticosa also seems to get called false indigo and the true indigo that I’m growing, Indigofera pendula, is not the one used for indigo dye, which is Indigofera tinctoria, so it isn’t true indigo but neither is it false indigo. When the Cherokees were using Baptisia as a blue dye they probably thought it was the real thing but any peasant in India could have put them straight. I’m envisaging the world as it was 500 years ago, but with the internet.

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  7. I second you on the bees being attracted to oregano. I don’t think you can get more elegant than your grass, you’ve placed it and also photographed it to great advantage.


  8. I like Indigofera pendula though I haven’t planted one in the garden. We did grow I. gerardiana which is not at all as good, smaller flowers!, but took it out earlier in the spring.


  9. Indigofera pendula had me scribbling in my notebook too. I’m on a bit of grass hunt at the moment, so it was very helpful to see your Molina, the height it just what I need to screen out a fence. But Stipa gigantea is also interesting me.


    1. The Molinia is very see through; hence the cultivar name ‘Transparent’. Stipa is slightly less so, but the main difference is that its flower stems are a light straw colour whereas the Molinia’s are dark green until much later. I have a couple of Miscanthus which are leafy to a greater height than the other two but with the flowers perhaps not quite so high. Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is leaf to about five feet and a much more solid presence than Molinia or Stipa, which are leafy only to about three feet max.


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