Trochodendron aralioides is an evergreen tree with branches in a layered structure. The leaves are highly glabrous and with the summer sun high in the sky are reflecting the light from their surface to almost mirror like quality. Other characteristics include a long petiole and a partially serrated edge leading to a distinctive drip tip. Native to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea where it reaches 20m in height. Grows well in a dry shady situation. Some literature cites it as epiphytic on Cryptomeria trunks in its native environment.
The good sized stems on this Allium wallichianum make it a worthwhile addition to the late summer border. At this time of year foliage has reached maximum height and luxuriance so any bulbs need to be of a certain stature to send the flower into the light. Rounded heads of purple with prominent blue anthers loved by pollinating insects. The attached images show flower heads at various stages of development. The papery sheath gradually shed as the head expands to open fully. Collected in China’s Yunnan Province, growing at 3200m, on a steep scree slope.
Producing flower heads of dinner plate size in the copse is a young specimen of Hydrangea sargentiana. Stout stems bear the terminal corymb, flat at first and then as the head matures takes on an undulating appearance. The head is composed of many small light purple fertile flowers, all lightly scented. These individual five sectioned domes burst open and reveal seven or more protruding anther and filaments. Beneath is a split stigma/style. A spattering of larger white infertile flowers sits to the edge of the corymb. The young growth is distinguished by a covering of bristly hairs; this disappears on older wood which has an attractive light brown peeling bark. Native to Western China where it was collected by Ernest Wilson in 1908.
A show of delicate white, in a south facing bed of the rock garden, is a planting of Leucojum autumnale var. oporanthum. These tiny bulbs send up a thin stalk on which a white flower opens. Needing an open sun drenched spot to flower well, this Moroccan native is the harbinger of the autumn flowering bulbs. Several flowers to each stem, buds pointed vertically up like a biro point. The inner tip of the white petals have a crystallised appearance. Strands of light linear foliage cover the ground beneath.
Baking in the heat on a raised terrace with flower spikes hitting two plus metres in height this Watsonia x longifolia is an elegant sight. It can be seen growing in the confines of the alpine area from where Elspeth promises to select a suitable planting site in the Garden and with due care and attention move the corms during the winter. Disliking disturbance it may then take a year or two to settle before annually producing tall flowering spikes of pink petalled flowers.
Helichrysum aucheri is in flower on the scree. Papery flower heads on 150mm stems. Collected in Turkey but native to greater Arabia. Grown in well drained soil and loving direct baking hot sun thus ensuring regular flowering. The silvery sheen on the foliage is sadly not at its best this year due to the continual torrential downpours we have experienced.
A collection from China is growing opposite the pond lawn. Cacalia aff. delphiniifolia (aff. means ‘akin to’ used in plant nomenclature) loves an area of bare soil within a woodland fringe. However, take a look at the red tinged arching shoots that are sent out from the parent plant. This is a strong growing, colonising herbaceous perennial. If you choose to plant it, then an annual clearance from the bases of shrubs and root zones of other herbaceous material is essential otherwise expect domination. Attractive foliage in the shape of divided leaves. The terminal flower spike is multi-budded, opening white. Needing good light to flower, those plants on the edge of the border producing strong stalks. As the shade deepens, little or no sign of flower spikes.
Looking for a splash of colour in the border? Trollius chinensis ‘Gold Queen’ could be the plant you are looking for. An herbaceous perennial growing to a height of 1.3m. The terminal cup shaped bright orange sepals surround the narrow mass of petals, a floral extravaganza. Also in flower is Ligustrum delavayanum, producing panicles of miniature, white, highly scented flowers. This multibranched evergreen “Privet” is found growing through Asia. Flowering as a timely reminder that when walking around suburbia the yet to be cut Privet hedges will also be full of pollinating insects making the most of these flowers. On warm still days the scent fills the gardens and pavements about them. One good reason to put off the inevitable and enjoy Wimbledon.
Weigela decora collected in Japan from an area of dense mixed forest containing Cryptomeria japonica and Stachyurus praecox, these were huge parent plants spreading and reaching 4m x 4m. Here a huge bulk of deciduous woody shoots and twigs forming, an ideal ecological habitat for woodland life. Flowering just now, the peduncles opening a creamy yellow then the pinks and red shades start to appear, giving an unusual floral display.
You study diligently, you consult books, you visit other gardens for ideas on colour and combination then a rampaging Ranunculus invades your border and the most appealing floral combination is created. The herbaceous Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’ has become intertwined with Ranunculus repens, the Creeping Buttercup to great effect.