I am already ruing my decision to plant out a number of young plants this week without hardening them off properly. So often in the garden, jobs are done when the time is available to do them, rather than the when the text book (or common sense) says one should. Not having a greenhouse or cold frame, my cherished seedlings have graduated from seed to substantial plants in the cosseted surroundings of the dining room. Having somewhat taken over, I had no choice but to get them out this week, and under normal circumstances I think they’d have made the transition pretty well. Unfortuately, this coincided with what the Telegraph described as a “European Monsoon”. Waking up this morning at the crack of dawn (3.42am, with the light already creeping over the sea), I was relived to find nothing had actually blown over, but on closer inspection there were a lot of damaged and wind burned leaves. No wonder really. Hopefully it will amount to nothing more than a slight check and they will get going again as soon as the weather perks up.
Anyway, one of the joys of growing from seed is that there are always plenty of spare plants, which means an opportunity for experimentation. Try as I may, I am hopelessly undisciplined when it comes to following any rules about combining colours. In June, the garden is dominated by white – Zantedeschia aethiopica and Libertia formosa, followed by star jasmine, and large pots of regal lilies. Once they are over, all self control goes out of the window, and as the sky blue Agapanthus africanus emerge, so do golden yellow Lilium “African Queen”, yellow and red Cautleya spicata and deepest purple/black Aeonium “Schwarzkopf” alongside multicoloured Coleus. For the last 2 years I have allowed climbing Black-eyed Susans (Thunbergia alata) to scramble through low shrubs, adding some much needed late summer colour. This year, I am combining yellow Thunbergia alata “Desert Sandstorm” with Ipomea “Grandpa Ott”, which will either look amazing, or completely hideous. Either way, I shall excuse it as “exotic” and try something different next year. That’s the beauty of growing your own.
Thunbergia alata “Desert Sandstorm” – started in mid March, and now planted out (a bit to soon!)
Ipomea “Grandpa Ott” – one of those colours only nature can get away with. Each flower lasts just one day, but will be borne in profusion if the weather hots up.