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August 2012

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Scented Willow, A Box of Smarties and Hermerocallis

You hardly need me to tell you we have had lots of rain. Willows love rain. I have had a little willow in my garden for years and I never knew its name until recently. Salix fragilis var. furcata is a true dwarf willow. It grows slowly to no more that 6 inches high and with a 12- to 24-inch spread. What makes it so special? Well it has tiny dark green leaves and is smothered in red catkins in spring but what really sets it apart is that its leaves give off the most beautiful sweet scent.

This year because of all the rain, that it loves, and the mild temperatures, the scent in the courtyard, where it grows over a low wall, has been phenomenal all summer. I have taken cuttings and because of the mist propagator conditions provided by the weather I have lots of strong plants to position around the garden and spread the scent far and wide. Also because of the weather conditions it has been really easy to move plants around the garden. It's a rare year that one can decide to move almost anything whenever the mood takes one.

The weather, I'm sure, is also responsible for the explosion of colour in the bed near the small pool in the garden. I have a wonderful rose ‘Abraham Darby', with apricot-yellow flowers, near this pool. I can't say the rose liked the rain but it was joined by self-sown antirrhinums of exactly the same colour as the rose and that saved the day. I haven't planted antirrhinums here for at least five years so their appearance was a nice surprise. The rose and the antirrhinums were joined by dozens of powder-blue irises, California poppies, cat mint and a little angel's fishing rod, Dierama ‘Tiny Tears'. The result was like a box of Smarties. In a normal year I would maybe have found this all a bit too much and been tempted to tame the palette, but with all the dull skies it was a real spirit-lifter and made me smile every time I passed by. As I had very little to do with all this self-sowing, this area will never be the same again. Isn't nature wonderful?

Hemerocallis have been better this year that any since I started to grow them. They are really good perennials. Day lilies require no staking, flower their hearts out every year and only require dividing every ten years or so. Even if you don't divide them they still flower well provided they have room to spread. I have added two to my collection this year ‘Catherine Woodbury', shown, a pale pink kind, and ‘Destined to See', which is cream with lavender eye and edge. Both are stunning.

I still have a gap were we lost a tree. Now, I have a ginkgo that is in the wrong place and not doing very well. It is there about twelve years. With all the success we have had this year in moving plants I am, you might say, getting brave or foolhardy and am thinking of trying to move the ginkgo into the gap. But I won't be doing this until October and my courage might desert me before then.



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