Let's start with a current star plant in my garden in early April, and one that I have saved seed from to send to the HPS in previous years, the Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris):-


Now after March's pause to look at some lovely snowdrops, to part two of reporting on some of the winners and losers in the seeds sown from the hardy plant seed list, and the RHS seed list of collected seeds; the fourth aspect of the very strange horticultural year we had in 2022, what with the weather and the health issues/being away so much unexpectedly.
So to recap from February's article:- After many of the HPS and RHS collected seeds I had sown in March had germinated and been potted on we dug a hospital bed at the beginning of June and I laid the plants out on 5th June, and then planted them the same day, digging in some of the concentrated manure compost before planting out the tiny plants:-

all planted up

You may recall as this was too small a space for all the plants I prioritised thus:- 1) are they big enough to go in the ground today, or can they stay in their pots; 2) are they drought tolerant (if so they COULD stay in pots rather than the ground); 3) are they annuals or biennials if so they MUST go in the ground.
What went in? I put in Alpine Sea Holly (), leaving one tray on the patio, which fried/died. of which one plant seems to have survived the winter. Klasea bulgarica – some were too small to go out and stayed in pots in the greenhouse and did not make it, but some seem to have survived the winter. Potentilla erecta – a resounding success, all the seedlings planted have survived.

Some Caucasian Crosswort (Phuopsis stylosa) – the rest stayed in the greenhouse in their original pot – I THINK one plant survived the winter outside. The remaining seedlings in the greenhouse are TINY and I am not at all sure I have the dexterity to pot them on now, but we shall see if they survive my attempting to prize them apart. The one plant of Hardy Gloxinia (Incarvillea delavayi) the slugs missed in the trays went in too, but I never saw it again. I also put in Salvia verticillata; mixed Salvias; a Toadflax (); An annual mallow-wort – ‘Vulcan'; Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies'; Verbascum ‘Snowy Spires'; Blue Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis); Annual Venus ‘s Navelwort (); Annual Blue Lace-Flower – Trachymene coerulea; and Kalimeris altaica; the progress of all of which I will update you below.

I believe I personally managed to water them a few times that week, then we were basically away til 18 August. I left the hose unrolled beside this bed hoping that my fantastic neighbours would water this new bed that had NOT been part of the deal originally. You may not be able to see from the photos, but this bed is on a steep slope, and what with that and the size of the plants, watering this bed is quite an effort not to lose all the soil down the slope onto the grass, with the plants joining it. We were away so long that our neighbours had to hand over watering duties to another set of neighbours as they were off on holiday for a week, just as we had weather in the 30's all day and night for a week. So, as I said above when we came back we discovered that the plants that I had left potted on in pots on the patio had suffered/died in the main – here is a shot of just a few of the pots/trays:-

potted on plants didnt make it

I don't know at what point in the month we were away most of these gave up the ghost, but you can see how fried some of these look, at the front. (Those in the white tray were my False Indigo – , and one of the round pots were the Mauve/Yellow flowered Tree Lupins – Lupinus arboreus. Our fantastic neighbours had watered once a day whilst they were looking after these. Our back up neighbours, who were not asked to look after these plants on the patio, just to keep himself's tomatoes alive in the polytunnel and greenhouse, and possibly the courgettes if they had time, tried to water these every day or every other day – but in the kind of 34 degree heat the garden experienced that week, this was clearly not enough for these pots.

The hazy purple fronds top left were the Bronze Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum', and I can report that some of these did put out new shoots later in the season and pulled through, but out of 20 plants I had 4. However, the cold/floods/cold of the winter has put paid to them now. The Berkheya purpurea on this patio certainly did not make it – which was a great surprise to me. I had been hankering after this plant after seeing it at Nymans almost four years previously – the stark bristly stems contrasting with the almost Echinacea/daisy-like flower – this African thistle should surely have coped with heatwave/drought?


More perplexing is the fact that the one tray of them left in the greenhouse as insurance (they and the White Flowered-form Jacob's Ladder were treated like this) DID survive, in what must surely have been MORE heat under glass? The Polomonium – White Flowered-form Jacob's Ladder – in the greenhouse survived too, whilst the tray outside did not.
Having sorted through all these unpromising pots later in September, I kept a few I thought MIGHT not be completely dead. These included pots of Pink Ragwort (); Tjanschan Globe Thistle (Echinops tjanschanicus) ; and Arkansas Bluestar (); none of which are very promising-looking currently.

However, on 18 August the new hospital bed looked like this:-

bed on 18 aug

The purple haze is Salvia verticillata, which was very happy, the grey foliage bottom right is the Toadflax (Linaria aeruginea), also very happy, and as you can see below the Malope trifida ‘Vulcan' is going great guns:-

vulcan in flower

I was very pleasantly surprised. The mixed Salvias were growing on, as were the Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies'; the Hyssop was about to spring into flower at the far end:-

hyssop growing on

The white flowers you can see at the back edge in the middle are the one plant of Venus's Navelwort Omphalodes linifolia that survived. Unfortunately I was not around at the right time to collect seed – let's see if any fell to the ground and will germinate naturally for next year. By end Aug/early Sept the annual Blue Lace Flower – Trachymene coerulea had flowered – nothing like as tall as I was expecting but our soil and timing probably didn't help!:-

vulcan and chaxsiabest

The white spike in front of the Malope trifida ‘Vulcan' is Verbascum ‘Snowy Spires' looking like just one plant made it to flowering.

blue daisy

By mid September the Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies' was flowering:-


And by the end of September they had grown on strongly:-


The mixed Salvias had thrown up a spectacular flower (only about 10 cm off the ground mind, “thrown up” being a very relative term on our poor soil!):-


It is the only “mixed” Salvia to flower, so I assume its an annual? (I am confident something so lovely is not going to be hardy!!)

The Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) was flowering at the end of September:-

hyssop flowering

The Kalimeris altaica also made one plant in the bed that flowered, looking just like a micklemas daisy. I also collected seed when I was around from the Malope trifida ‘Vulcan', the Salvia verticillata, and the Toadflax (Linaria aeruginea), which I hope is viable – though the Blue Lace Flower – Trachymene coerulea never seemed to turn into a seed head, so I may not have any viable seed from that either.

From that long list of plants that germinated I told you about in March, the following that have not been mentioned above gave up the ghost in the heatwave, some fried in the greenhouse, and some fried outside, even with the watering:-

The following are still in the greenhouse, and look very dead, but are possibly still alive:-

  • Echinacea purpurea ‘Green Twister'
  • Eryngium bourgatii
  • Dracocephalum rupestre

…..At least I have this year's seeds I chose from the HPS and RHS sown, another example of the optimism of the gardener that this year will be a better horticultural/health/climatic year.
Next time, catching up with seasonal gardening jobs.

Shelia May.