Late flowering perennials and ‘plants that die well’ was our focus for discussion today. Umbels are particularly good at dying well and provide wonderful structure in the border so think about what needs to be cut back and leave plants that still have architectural interest.
Umbels are defined as ‘an inflorescence in which a number of flower stalks or pedicels, nearly equal in length, spread from a common centre’. They are often flat topped with flower stalks that are splayed like ribs on an umbrella. Examples of umbels are fennel, angelica, cow parsley, ammi, astrantia, flowers of carrots and parsnips.
Umbels at Great Dixter
We looked at a number of plants that Bridge had collected from her recent visit to Sussex Prairie Gardens in Henfield. The garden is closed now until next June but does include a section within the main garden which demonstrates how prairie planting can be done on a smaller more domestic scale.
- Echinacea purpurea ‘Virgin’ – or white coneflower. They are sturdy and easy to care for and need full sun or partial shade. They have large and fragrant blooms from July to October which are very attractive to butterflies.
- Amsonia or ‘bluestars’ are clump forming herbaceous perennials. In spring they have star shaped blue flowers, the foliage stays green in summer but in autumn it turns yellow/bronze
- Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’ an easy to grow dramatic frothy grass which is good with cut flowers. It is an annual that can be grown from seed – sow indoors in seed trays from Feb to April, prick out and harden off in May and it will flower from July to Sept.
- Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ or switch grass. It is an upright clump forming grass with red/ brown leaves that are blue /green when they emerge in spring. In autumn they turn a deep burgandy. It has red/pink flowers which later turn beige.
- Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is a feather reed grass. It is a clump forming perennial that loves shade and stays upright, it grows to 90cm
- Rudbeckia triloba is native to United States, it gives a fantastic late summer/autumn display and is good combined with grasses. It can tolerate shade.
- Aster lateriflorus horizontalis, has stiff stems set with small, dark green leaves and forms compact, bush-like plants. By October, they are a mass of tiny, silvery flowers with clover-pink, fluffy centres. grows to 61 cm. It is used in Great Dixter as hedging
- Aster ericoides – a white aster native to N. America and Mexico
Activities in the garden this week:
- Further compost work – digging out the heap and spreading on beds
- Cutting back the euphorbia
- Making more fence hurdles for the veg beds
- Sorting out the path to the shed
- Clearing bed at end of sunken garden
- Clearing the ammi and cutting back aquilegia
- Taking more rosemary and fuchsia cuttings
- Planting out the panicums
- Maintaining Little Dixter