“Some Like it Hot …

Garden of Paradise, Nilufer Danis, Hampton Court 2015

….. and others do not. I am one of the others.” The Frustrated Gardener, July 2015

Visiting Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 35 degrees of heat is not an experience I can recommend or would care to repeat. The trains out of London Waterloo were hotter than a bean tin on a camp fire, the marquees were as humid and airless as the Amazon and after the first day many of the gardens were already looking decidedly frazzled. Throughout the day the double avenues of lime trees parallel to the Long Water provided shelter for weary, sweaty, dust covered show-goers, overheating despite loose layers of linen and wide-brimmed summer hats. A walk across one of the pontoons offered just the remotest chance that one might be sprayed by water from the magnificent fountains. It was hot, damn hot.

Detail of Living Landscapes: Healing Urban Garden, Hampton Court 2015

Even making allowances for my own considerable discomfort, this year’s show gardens were the most disappointing I can recall. Quite how some of them even got off the drawing board I do not know. Funnily enough the gardens that shone were those that paid homage to hotter climes. The Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism’s ‘Garden of Paradise’ thoroughly deserved gold and Best World Garden. Designed by Nilufer Danis this garden’s delicious confection of scented roses and lilies was sweeter than anything Fry’s used to make. I loved it.

Garden of Paradise, Nilufer Danis, Hampton Court 2015

It was great to see the transformation of John Warland’s World Vision Garden from flooded rice paddy to ripening grain field. The design’s second incarnation was larger and lusher than the first, criss-crossed by narrow grass paths.

World Vision Garden, John Warland, Hampton Court 2015

World Vision Garden, John Warland, Hampton Court 2015

Equally suited to the searing heat and high humidity was the African Vision: Malawi Garden which was awarded a gold medal. The garden told the story of a nation striving to promote the practice of sustainable planting in order to build resilient communities and combat famine. A field of maize could be viewed inside a mirrored box, giving the impression that the field slid towards infinity.

Africa Vision: Malawi Garden, Gabrielle Evans, Hampton Court 2015

I was utterly transported by True Fair’s Sri Lanka Tranquility Garden designed by the level 2 students at Bicton College. This garden didn’t gain any medals, but was perfectly suited to the tropical heat and shone brilliantly in the hard summer light (unlike my photography).

True Fair: Sri Lanka Tranquility Garden, Hampton Court 2015

The re-configured show ground was muddled and confusing, underlining the show’s lamentable (hopefully not inevitable) transition from world class flower show to provincial country fair. There is a fine balance to be struck between commerciality and horticulture at Hampton Court and in my view the balance has tipped too far towards the former. The result of promoting trade stands to key locations was that many show gardens lacked an appropriate background. Those that floated in island sites really struggled to convince, with the notable exception of Hadlow College’s ‘Green Seam’, which was awarded best show garden.

As you might have deduced by now, I was not enamoured. Salvation came in the shape of Helen of Oz, more accustomed to the furnace-like conditions than I and fabulous company. Laurent Perrier and Belvoir cordials, each refreshing in their own way, were lifesavers. I’d take all of them to my desert island. The only aspect of the show that met my expectations was the floral marquee which was as glorious as ever, packed with remarkable plants and their talented growers. They each demonstrated their tenacity simply by enduring the stifling humidity all day long. Quite how many of the parched, wilting plants purchased yesterday will have made it safely to their new home I don’t know. I’m pleased to report that mine did, but they were overdue a good soak by the time they reached Highgate.

Garden of Paradise, Nilufer Danis, Hampton Court 2015

Having questioned whether Hampton Court Flower Show would be design heaven or style circus, I have to answer that it was neither. An average abberation perhaps. I sincerely hope that 2015, the show’s 25th year, was a case of trying just a little too hard and that we’ll see an improvement in the show gardens and layout next year. A bit of proper English weather wouldn’t go amiss either.

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs until Sunday July 5th.

Detail of Living Landscapes: Healing Urban Garden, Hampton Court 2015

Daily Flower Candy: Convolvulus sabatius

Convolvulus sabatius, The Watch House, June 2015

Mention the name bindweed and the first thing that springs to mind is one of gardeners’ greatest horrors, hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium). Undoubtedly beautiful in flower, hedge bindweed is a thug and is welcomed only into the wildest of gardens by the bravest of gardeners.

Altogether tamer, docile in fact, is blue rock bindweed, Convolvulus sabatius (also known as C. mauritanicus). An extremely polite customer, this small, scrambling plant stays in one place, flooding the ground around it with pools of delicately creased blue flowers. They start to unfurl at the end of May and often persist until November. I have grown Convolvulus sabatius in our coastal garden for many years now, giving each plant a haircut in autumn and then again in April. The trailing stems, cascading down our slate walls, tend to get tossed about like a bad comb-over during winter, so a trim keeps the plants tidy.

Convolvulus sabatius, The Watch House, June 2015

In the UK Convolvulus sabatius is commonly sold as a annual for hanging baskets and containers. This is often the cheapest way to obtain plants, but in the south of England you will find them perfectly hardy and reliable as perennials. Blue rock bindweed does not wander or set seed, simply making a stronger clump year after year. For best results plant somewhere that enjoys sunshine for at least half the day. Positioning at the top of a wall or slope gives the trailing stems a chance to show themselves off. Once established Convolvulus sabatius needs almost no maintenance and is very drought tolerant. If it does outgrow its allotted space then I give it a haircut and new shoots quickly appear – in a good season I might do this a couple of times. The flowers close in the evening and when they’re over they roll themselves up into tight twists like little Rizla papers before dropping. Their colour is an exceptionally pretty mauvish-blue, which works well with hotter pinks and yellows.

With its lens-shutter flowers and good manners Convolvulus sabatius is a bindweed I could never banish to the fringes of my garden.

Convolvulus sabatius, The Watch House, June 2015

GROW London 2015

Petersham Nurseries, Grow London, June 2015

A post about GROW London, the capital’s newest, freshest garden show, is one of the many that never found its way out of my drafts folder last summer. This is very remiss of me as GROW London really is worth shouting about. Coming a month after Chelsea, the show bookends the June Gap, providing Londoners with a timely opportunity to add blooms to their balconies, tart up their terraces or augment their allotments with the choicest gardening gear.

Eryngium 'Neptune's Gold', Grow London, June 2015

I snapped up tickets for the Charity Gala evening, which benefits the National Gardens Scheme. The weather tonight was perfect: warm and sunny with a refreshing breeze. The very essence of summer. The show ground, on the edge of Hampstead Heath, is perfect for attracting affluent north Londoners who arrived in their droves, decked in crisply pressed linen and floral shirts – oversized sunglasses compulsory.

Zinnias and cornflowers, Petersham Nurseries, Grow London, June 2015

The show runs from Friday 19th June until Sunday 21st June and is just the right size for a half day out including a spot of lunch. Drinks this evening were laid on by Nyetimber, the finest of English sparkling wines and a favourite of The Queen. I had to have a few glasses to be sure it was good enough for Her Majesty. This year sees the return of many exhibitors, suggesting last year was a commercial success. Top of my list to see were Crûg Farm Plants from North Wales, Evolution Plants from Somerset and Niwaki, the Japanese tool company. None disappointed.

Tools ny Niwaki, Grow London, June 2015

This year London garden centres, of which there are pitifully few, are better represented. W6 and N1 Garden centres created a lush display of creatively potted plants balanced on ladders and shelves. A visit is seriously overdue, something I must remedy. If their stand is anything to go by, I am in for a treat.

W6 and N1 Garden Centre, Grow London, June 2015

Petersham Nurseries, always in a league of its own, created a romantic bower, surrounded by frothy plants and heavily scented roses.

Petersham Nurseries, Grow London, June 2015

Website Gardenista hosted a mini market packed with artisan producers including 31 Chapel Lane, offering beautiful Irish linen gardening smocks and tea towels. I was encouraged to enter the Gardenista Considered Design Awards, which is a competition you might like to consider entering yourself. You’ll need to be quick as the closing date is Monday June 22nd.

Gardenista Market, Grow London, June 2015

If you are in London this weekend you should make a bee-line for GROW London. Just have the good sense to take a cab home with your purchases – 4ft scenicos are easily caught in train doors ;-).

The Damage

  1. Begonia luxurians x 2 – dazzling Brazilian begonia with long, finger-like leaves.
  2. Senecio christobalensis – an extraordinary, furry-leaved giant
  3. Tweedia caerulea – divine tender climber with turquoise flowers
  4. Saxifraga stolonifera – beautiful spreading saxifrage with dark leaves and pink flowers like tiny butterflies
  5. Ludisia discolor – jewel orchid. An indoor orchid with maroon, veined leaves and white flowers

A special shout out for Glendon Nursery, growers of the above, who’s stand was as exciting as finding a rich aunt’s jewellery box in the attic. Plants to die for.

Planted vintage teapot, Grow London, June 2015

Wallowing in the June Gap

Foliage textures, Our London Garden,  June 2015

We are in the midst of a period known to gardeners and beekeepers as the June Gap. Both of our gardens have become a sea of green, caught in limbo between the fading flowers of spring and the first blooms of summer. I love this time: everything appears so fresh and vigorous, with the anticipation of colourful flowers and tasty fruit just around the corner. Hostas and lettuces remain unnibbled, the first tomatoes are setting and flowering plants are covered in promising buds. No time yet for greenfly, vine weevil and mildew to mame, chew and fog the garden’s emerald mantle. I want to dive in and wallow amongst the cool greenery, ruminating quietly like a hippopotamus in a swamp.

Dicksonia antartica, tree fern, Our London Garden,  June 2015

Dicksonia antartica creates elegantly dappled shade

Luxuriant foliage is all well and good, but it’s bad news for honey bees. A dearth of pollen and nectar can spell disaster for hives which are at their fullest and busiest during June. Until today most of the UK has been experiencing night temperatures in the low single figures. This suits ferns like Dicksonia antarctica (above) but not shy annual flowers that crave summer heat.

These foxgloves should have been white, but turned out pink

These foxgloves should have been white, but turned out bog-standard pink

All is not lost: even during a cool month certain plants can be guaranteed to bridge the June Gap and ease the pollen drought, not least foxgloves, Rosa rugosa, Clematis montana, osteospermum, Centranthus ruber, astrantias, honeysuckle, hardy geraniums and echiums (should you have room for something a little more exotic). Single flowers are a good choice because their nectaries are more easily accessible to hungry pollinators. A broad wash of green is hugely flattering to most colours so there’s less need to worry about clashes now than in high summer. Because the days are longest in June, I tend to plan for lots of white so that I can enjoy the blooms late into the evening.

Foliage textures, Our London Garden, June 2015

Hydrangea quercifolia flower heads start to emerge

The predicted warm (dare I say hot?) weather will quickly set bedding plants, herbs and wild flowers racing to attract their flying friends and the June Gap will soon close over. I will miss my sea of green, punctuated here and there by the high sails of foxgloves and the foaming whiteness of nemesias. The bees will not; they are looking forward to July’s sweet bounty.

Hosta 'Patriot', Our London Garden, June 2015

My all time favourite hosta, H. ‘Patriot’

Knocking Through

Callistemon, Polegate Cottage, June 2015

I’ve been a bit quiet of late and that’s because I’ve been buying a new house. We are not moving, but knocking through into a neighbouring property to give us more space ….. and more garden. Most of you will find it hard to get excited about the prospect of an extra 20ft by 20ft of growing space, but for us that’s almost double what we have now, and with a sunnier, south-westerly aspect the possibilities seem endless. This weekend Architect Guy, brother of Him Indoors, is drawing up plans which will include a library for all my gardening books and a conservatory. I am finding it hard to contain my excitement. No doubt budgetary constraints will bring me rapidly back down to earth!

Polegate Cottage, greenhouse, June 2015

In the new garden we have inherited a rickety aluminium greenhouse, a rather fine deep red rose, a beautifully scented jasmine, an unusual fuchsia with red-veined leaves, promising clumps of Nerine bowdenii, a plastic pot filled with pink and red bedding geraniums and about 6000 snails. This is obviously where they came when I evicted them from next door. Two sheds and the greenhouse are precariously wired up with all manner of electrics, none of which look particularly safe, so our first job was to cut them off.

Callistemon, aloe and aeoniums, June 2015

By rights I should not be attempting to do any gardening until the two houses have been converted into one. The new house, known as Polegate Cottage, has not been updated for about 35 years, so needs everything done to it – new wiring, new central heating and complete redecoration. It’s hard to believe that two such different properties could be so close to one another. Our house is light, bright and cheerful; next door is gloomy and dated. There will be a lot of mess and expense before I can really getting going on the garden, but in the short term I have succumbed to the usual temptation and started filling it up with pots of the kind plants I’d like to grow there eventually.

Red rose, Pollenate Cottage, June 2015

Being sunnier than our existing garden I am thinking of drought-tolerant Mediterranean and Antipodean plants which will save on watering. I have started with a bottle brush (Callistemon citrinus), Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius ‘Silver Jubilee’ (inspired by Beth Smith at Foamlea) and Cestrum fasciculatum ‘Newellii’ which has given a me a foundation of silver foliage and red flowers. On that I have built a collection of plants with interesting foliage colours, including fabulous Tradescantia ‘Purple Sabre’, Begonia ‘Benitochiba’, Sempervium ‘Virgil’, Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ and my long suffering aeoniums which have been temporarily stricken by vine weevil damage.

Begonia, hibiscus, tradescantia and plectranthus, Polegate Cottage, June 2015

Our existing garden is resolutely green, and the previous owner of Polegate Cottage had a penchant for burgundy red, so I am using this new space as an opportunity to experiment with combinations of magenta, plum, scarlet and aubergine. A purple leaved canna surrounded by red nemesias and helichrysum will not be drought tolerant, but will enjoy the sunshine and shelter. Meanwhile I have moved other cannas and hedychiums around to the new garden to bring them on a little faster in readiness for our National Gardens Scheme open weekend on August 1st and 2nd.

I am looking forward to posting regular updates on our new coastal garden and the plans for its future layout. All bright ideas welcomed!

Polegate Cottage, pots, June 2015

 

In the Pink

Red campion, Silene dioica, St Agnes, June 2015

It’s early June and the hedgerows of England are at their most ebullient. Nowhere are they more vivacious than in the West County where the crystal clear air permits colours to pop and sparkle. Warmed by the summer sun, refreshed by the last rains of spring, our hedges are flushed with foxgloves, ferns, campions and buttercups, softened only by a fine haze of cow parsley. Like a morning mist this thin veil of white blossom will soon lift to reveal the harder edges of high summer. A palette of candy pink, canary yellow and white, with quenching highlights of blue, puts me in mind of a bag of Liquorice Allsorts.

Digitalis purpurea, foxglove, St Agnes, June 2015

I can’t recall witnessing red campions as plentiful or vigorous as this year. It’s interesting to note the natural variation in flower colour from plant to plant; some a pale lilac-pink, some the colour of seaside rock and others a more intense rose pink. Out walking in St Agnes at the weekend I was taken aback by the sheer number of foxgloves taking advantage of disturbed field margins and old bonfire sites. The spotted pink trumpets were dazzling against the blue sky. A mob of ox-eye daisies, hogweed, vetch and buttercup attempted to infiltrate the hedges in places, but still pink held sway.

Red campion, Silene dioica, St Agnes, June 2015

Sign to 'The Beacon', St Agnes, June 2015

Hog weed, Heracleum sphondylium, St Agnes 2015

Without the green of ferns, ivies, brambles, nettles and grasses the colours of June would be kaleidoscopic but far from calming. I am always amazed at the success of hart’s tongue and male ferns in the stone hedgerows of Cornwall. Normally shade lovers, they bask lazily in full sun, yet find a ready supply of the moisture they thrive on within the cool rocks.

Hogweed, Rosa rugosa, foxgloves. St Agnes, June 2015

Escaped from gardens I spotted Rosa rugosa, Oxalis floribunda and Gladiolus byzantinus gilding Nature’s lily, and along the clifftops the pink theme continued with hummocks of thrift, now beginning to fade gently to white. Within days the cliffs below will be covered by acres of magenta-pink bell heather.

Chapel Porth, Cornwall, June 2015

Armeria maritima, thrift, St Agnes, Cornwall, April 2015

In the shelter of Chapel Porth valley I went in search of orchids. I never know which is which, but they are an exciting find nevertheless. I came up trumps with these fine flowers sprouting along the edge of an iron-rich stream. At a guess they belong to the northern marsh orchid, Dactylorhiza purpurella, a species which can be cultivated in gardens but must not be collected from the wild. ‘Ansome, as they say in Cornwall.

Orchids, Chapel Porth Valley, St Agnes, Conrwall, June 2015

This moment in the pink will not last for ever. In a few weeks’ time the hedges will start to lose their youthful verve, taking on the chintzy shades of mid summer. Until then, let’s rejoice in the colour that symbolises charm, romance and sweetness and which fills the June countryside with fun and frippery.

Digitalis purpurea, common foxglove, St Agnes, June 2015

Cake and Kayaking

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Today The Frustrated Gardener celebrated three years on the World Wide Web, but there was a more significant party in town, my dad’s 70th. He marked his special day (held over from January for obvious reasons) with a morning sea kayaking with my sister on the Helford River in Cornwall. Grandma, Him Indoors and I were left holding the baby: not such a trial when said baby is my delightful neice Martha and the setting is the bucolic Budock Vean Hotel. Much tea was drunk, many rhododendron blossoms collected, banana flowers wondered at (Musa lasiocarpa, below) and, of course, there was cake aplenty. By the end of the day were all rosy cheeked and the better for it. I think we should have birthdays more often.

Daily Flower Candy: Incarvillea delavayi ‘Snowtop’

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I need more plants like I need a hole in the head. The garden is already bursting at the seams and there’s twelve weeks to go until it reaches its most junglified. But when confronted with a bargain my willpower withers like a dandelion doused with RoundUp. ‘Go on’, goaded Martin the Garden Centre Man, ‘they’re only £1.49 (for 3) and will come up a treat’. And indeed they did. In the space of six weeks, the finger-like tubers have produced lush rosettes of prettily divided leaves and the beginnings of a fine display of flowers. The blooms are as cool as a cucumber, brilliant white with a touch of daffodil-yellow in the throat.

 

Like most of the bulbs and tubers I grow in containers, my incarvillea (commonly known as hardy gloxinias) are planted in John Innes No.3 with added grit. Because I can’t water daily I find that loam-based compost retains moisture better, with the added bonus of being weighty – helpful when the wind blows. So far I am impressed. Incarvillea delavayi ‘Snowtop’ appears effortless to grow whilst appearing as if it could be challenging, which is always satisfying. The flowers are providing a focal point whilst many of my other containerised plants are establishing themselves. As a stop gap it’s marvellous, and quite possibly the best £1.49 I’ve ever spent.

Have you tried growing incarvillea? What are your experiences? Can you recommend any good named varieties?

  

Gardening on the Edge: Foamlea, North Devon

Foamlea, Mortehoe, Devon, June 2015

The most inspiring gardens are not always those on which huge funds are lavished or indeed the better known ones. Often they are the gardens where the visitor finds something or someone that they can relate to. Such was the case for me with Foamlea, an extraordinary coastal garden in North Devon.

Foamlea, Mortehoe, Devon, June 2015

In 2002 Beth Smith took over this scenically blessed spot of coastline in Mortehoe, near Woolacombe, when her mother could no longer cope with the maintenance. In stages she has created a gently terraced garden devoted to the cultivation of sun-loving plants, particularly phlomis, of which there is a National Collection. I won’t claim that phlomis are my favourite plant group, but a collection of any genera is a fascinating thing for a plantsman. Beth has over 40 species and hybrids, ranging from pretty pink Phlomis italica (Balearic Island sage) to an attractively variegated sport named P. ‘Rougemont’, discovered in the gardens of a hotel by the same name in Exeter. Holding a National Collection is quite a responsibility, requiring regular inspections as well as ad hoc visits from interested botanists and taxonomists. Beth’s plants are in rude health and clearly enjoy the conditions at Foamlea. Beth pointed out to me P. ‘herba-venti’, Iranian Jerusalem sage, which is a tall perennial phlomis with arrow-shaped, greyish-green leaves and upright stems carrying 4 to 7 dense whorls of large, rose-pink flowers. When the seed has set the flower stalks simply break away from the base and blow away, hence herba-venti or ‘herb of the wind’. I am familiar with the shrubbier phlomis, but the perennials are new to me and sound appealing.

Foamlea, Mortehoe, Devon, June 2015

If you’re not a phlomis fan then don’t be deterred from visiting the garden on one of the forthcoming NGS open days. Even at this slightly awkward time of the year, Foamlea is awash with flowers. In the vertical there is beautifully perfumed Moraea huttonii (below), rocketing Echiums, rose pink watsonias and striking Wachendorfia thyrsiflora from South Africa. Hunkering down low you’ll find even more treasures, including helianthemums, cistus and osteospermums. Evergreen structure (and essential shelter) comes in the form of a fascinating collection of ozothamnus and corokia species. I fell in love with Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius ‘Silver Jubilee’ with its blue-green needle-like leaves and pink flower buds which eventually open to white. Beth colour themes some areas of the garden and I thought the yellow and orange border looked especially strong at this time of year.

Moraea huttonii, Marwood Hill, Devon, May 2015

The growing conditions at Foamlea are both blessed and challenging. The plot slopes to the west, facing the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel. On the bright side this affords the garden sun and protection from frost, which never settles for more than an hour or so. The patch was once farmland so is fertile and mainly clay-based. Thanks to the constant addition of grit and sand the soil is very free draining. On the other hand the exposed position means that Foamlea is at the mercy of gales from the south and west. Plants have to be tough to survive here, although plentiful rain prevents salt from building up to troublesome levels. Beth has found that Echiums other than E. pininana need staking to keep them upright. Her regime is one of low feeding in order that plants grow hard and not so lush that they topple in the wind.

Foamlea, Mortehoe, Devon, June 2015

I was surprised to find moisture lovers such as cannas, hedychiums and irises flourishing on seemingly dry slopes. They are situated in damper patches, fed by water that drains from the hills above Chapel Lane. It’s clear that Beth understands and takes advantage of every inch of her garden. Her intuition has developed over time and only after careful observation. Someone like me, with limited experience and relatively little discipline, has a great deal to learn from someone who, herself, has learnt from trial and error.

Foamlea, Mortehoe, Devon, June 2015

Beth claims her garden is not ‘designed’. However, presented with a series of terraces linked by steps and paths bounded by low stone walls, descending lazily towards the cliff’s edge, it’s hard to imagine how better Foamlea could have been conceived. On a still evening, surrounded by exotic scents, enjoying a gin and tonic and watching the sun set over Lundy Island, there could surely be nowhere more sublime.

Foamlea is open for the National Gardens Scheme on Sundays June 14, 21 and 28 2015, 2-5pm. Foamlea, Mortehoe, Woolacombe, EX34 7DZ, United Kingdom.

Foamlea, Mortehoe, Devon, June 2015

Daily Flower Candy: Erigeron glaucus (beach aster)

Erigeron glaucus, Woolacombe, June 2015

The recipe for a classic seaside garden is as tried and tested as that for the most British of cakes, a Victoria Sandwich. Take a sheet of tightly mown lawn, add a fringe of hydrangeas (preferably blue) and spike with a handful of cordylines (Cordyline australis). Add phormiums (a modern twist) or agapanthus to taste and then scatter with osteospermums and beach asters (Erigeron glaucus). For that finishing touch, season with a handfuls of crocosmia (not the invasive kind), Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus and Kaffir lilies (Schizostylis coccinea). These will give you colour in summer and autumn. A dash of daffodils will mean spring is covered and a well chosen camellia will give you flowers over winter too. Wrap the whole thing with an evergreen band of Griselinia littoralis or Escallonia rubra and, ‘Tah Dah!, the job is done.

This timeless concoction won’t scare the horses on the parades and drives of the South West, but the ingredients within it are worth knowing about if you’re trying to make a garden in an exposed spot.

Erigeron glaucus, Woolacombe, June 2015

 

When we were down in North Devon this weekend I was reminded of what a wonderful plant the beach aster, Erigeron glaucus, is. It’s tough, floriferous and will grow just about anywhere, especially if it’s vertical. It was greening walls long before Patrick Blanc came along and started glueing ferns and bromeliads to the exteriors of posh hotels and will be around for a long time after. The fuzzy-edged daisies are happiness in flower form, turning their faces upwards towards the skies whether they be grey or blue. The soft pink colour contrasts nicely with the slate greys and cool granites of the West Country, the old-gold centres even picking up the orange tones of encrusting lichen. Blooms will keep appearing for months. Interspersed with close relative Erigeron karvinskianus and red valerian (Centranthus ruber), you have a classic planting combination for a garden wall. The icing, if you like, on the cake.

Erigeron glaucus, Woolacombe, June 2015

Once you have it, Erigeron glaucus will seed itself into nooks and crannies without making a nuisance of itself. All the plant demands is a neutral, sandy or free-draining soil and lots and lots of sunshine, which by-and-large it gets down south. Erigeron glaucus is hardy to about -15 centigrade, but if damaged by frost will regrow from the roots. Named varieties include E. ‘Seabreeze’, E. ‘Roseus’ or E. ‘Elstead Pink’. All are pink, so if you live by the seaside it’s probably easier to ask your neighbour for a small plant or basal cutting and save your pennies for something fancier.

Seed is available from Chilterns Seeds.

Erigeron glaucus, Woolacombe, June 2015