I’ve long enjoyed “Six on Saturday” posts from my oh-so-better fellow bloggers. And I’ve resolved to join them on several occasions, but have always been thwarted by it not being Saturday or not having appropriate photos to include.
I must be in a blogging kind of mood today as I remembered to dash outside a couple of hours ago and take a few photos. And it is still Saturday. So here goes …
Or is it mandevilla? I’m never sure whether they are different names for the same plant or different plants. They are great for pots here in our French life. We have one either side of the back door (which is actually at the side of the house opening onto the covered terrace). Their glossy leaves twine upwards and they are generous with their pretty flowers, never seeming to complain about anything. Perfect.
We love the bright colours of cosmos flowers. Whereas in the UK they can be shy to flower here they get going without delay. These are self-sown volunteers from last summer’s extensive area of annuals which temporarily provided a cover crop for what has since become the exotic garden. They are very welcome and perhaps this second generation will lead on to a third in time.
This is very much a signature plant in this part of France. Most self-respecting gardens have at least one and they are frequently used as street trees where they are often carefully pruned to create an amazing lacework of branches that look attractive in winter when bare and leafless. This is currently our only example, given to us as a present by our keen gardener friend Judith. I expect we will acquire more as they flower in high summer and come in several different, equally vibrant, colours. I love the glossy balls which look as though they should be seedheads but are in fact the unopened buds.
Another signature plant in this area, it is grown in a number of different ways. A vigorous climber, it is often used (as in our garden) growing up telegraph poles in a highly effective disguise. Sometimes you will see it scrambling over a wall, trellis or fence, and some people train it into a kind of tree-shape. We inherited one with the house, and I planted two more last year. Ours has been very well behaved, although some people describe it as a thug. We love the pop of colour.
We have to watch this carefully. If we turned our back it could take over. But it is loved by insects and has an extraordinary charm. I shall cut this down when the flowers begin to go over to prevent it from seeding around, and to encourage a second flush of the wonderful bronze fern-like foliage down at ground level.
I think this is Golden Umbrella (from memory without checking my lists). It was rather an investment (aka expensive) but is doing well in the exotic garden, unlike some other plants which have not enjoyed the intense heat and drought of the earlier part of the summer when we weren’t here to intervene with a hosepipe. When I looked at it the other day the flowers were absolutely alive with tiny hover flies, but today all was quiet. I hope it continues to thrive as it will make a wonderful higher-storey accent plant for the exotic garden.
Arundo Donax variegata
This is one of the many plants that I’ve been introduced to by Great Dixter. I tried to buy one from their nursery when there on a day’s course a few years ago but they didn’t have variegata in stock at the time. I took the plain version away but it failed to thrive in our cold, dry Surrey garden. Since starting our French life we have seen it in many locations here, frequently out-running it’s allotted position. So I won’t be planting that one. But we thought we would try the variegated version even though it is less hardy and we can get some low night-time temperatures with considerable frost in the depths of winter. If we lose it we lose it. At least we will have tried. And I think you’ll agree it is a very handsome plant indeed, currently very happy and thriving.
And, yes, I realise that’s Seven on Saturday not Six. It could just as easily have been 8 or 10. Perhaps you’ll forgive me?!