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November 2019



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In the garden

Yesterday, I went to a talk given by Rosy Hardy of Hardy’s Cottage Plants. I’d heard her several times before, so knew it would be good value. If you’ve ever been to Chelsea Flower Show or watched the TV coverage you will know of her, because she’s won umpteen gold medals for her lovely plants. She always brings interesting plants with her and talks about what’s in season and how best to grow it.

This year on the nursery, she said, plants are four weeks ahead of themselves because of the higher light levels we’ve had this year. I’ve already deadheaded all my daffodils and my tree peony (see above) is flowering now, which I certainly think is early. If you live in Scotland, you may be surprised to find that down south we desperately need rain. Preparing plants for Chelsea, weather conditions really influence what you will be able to show.

The first part of the talk was about plants for different types of shade. I was very taken with two plants new to me: Geranium ‘Prelude’ and Phlox ‘May Breeze’. The phlox smells fabulous. These were both for sale (I resisted) as were a couple of plants I already have: Melittis melissophyllum and Lamium orvala. The Lamium is one of my favourite plants but alas, this year something has chewed right through the flower stem. Happily, the Melittis is doing well. I was pleased to see another old favourite, Silene fimbriata, which I had in my old garden, grown from seed. It’s a humble-looking plant but utterly charming.

You probably know this already, but there have been a lot of plant name changes recently. (Botanists!) If you grow Dicentra spectabilis, you should now be calling it Lamprocapnos spectabilis. I should call it Bleeding Heart. The whole aster family has had a great shake up. I used to grow a lovely aster called ‘Little Carlow’. It is now Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’. Rosy was complaining about how hard it is to fit such a name onto the smart labels she uses for shows. No doubt everyone will go on calling these plants asters.



The talk sounds both wonderful and interesting. I have a geranium in the ground that is growing bigger each year but I have no idea which variety it is. I must try and identify it when it flowers.

I didn't know that lots of plant names had changed. Why have they done that, who decides? Not that it matters to me because I can never remember the Latin names. My bleeding heart is in flower :)

Rosy Hardy's talks are always good. If you post a photo of your geranium when it flowers, I may be able to identify it. I used to grow at least 100 different varieties :-)

I sound like a show-off with my Latin names but honestly, it's no problem at all for me to remember them. The name changes are decided by committees and they're supposed to make things clearer. I know it's a good thing really, just rather hard on the amateur gardener who is not a botanist.

Lucky you with the Bleeding Heart (or Lady in the Bath). Mine disappeared:-(