During the early summer apart from small cabbage whites, there were very few colourful butterflies in my garden. Then, during late July, no doubt due to the very good weather, a number of Red Admirals, Peacock, and other butterflies started to appear. However, I must admit that the most butterflies I have seen this year was at a garden centre in the small village of Swarkston in Derbyshire, where, on a visit with my daughter Louise and her husband James we came across a number of container grown Buddleja’s that were covered in butterflies. From this, we can see why the common name given to the Buddleja is that of ‘Butterfly Bush’. Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’, which is often found in nurseries and garden centres as Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ produces flat heads of deep pink flowers, which like Buddleja’s produce the nectar that attracts butterflies, bees and hoverflies. This just goes to show if you want to encourage wildlife to your garden, choose plants that will attract them.
Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Heavenly Blue’ is one of my favourite late summer flowering shrubs, which during September and often into October, will produce numerous deep blue flowers. The grey foliage of this superb shrub has a lavender-like fragrance; also, as it flowers on its current year’s growth you can prune it to shape during April. I would point out however, that while Caryopteris thrive in my sandy loam, they will not tolerate heavy, wet soils. Many people will purchase Cyclamen persicum in flower as houseplants and when they have finished flowering throw them away. However, there are a number of Cyclamen species, which are hardy enough to grow in borders throughout most of Europe. I grow five species and a number of cultivated forms, and have found Cyclamen hederifloium to be the toughest and most adaptable to grow in any garden, a number having thrived in my garden for thirty years, in which time their corn-like tubers will have grown 9 inches (22cm) in diameter. During early September, Cyclamen hederifloium will produce its flowers before its leaves, most of the flowers will vary from pale to deep mauve, but I have one, aptly named ‘Alba’, which has pure white flowers. The leaves will appear almost as the flowers have faded and these have the added attraction of being deep green with a silvery Christmas tree-like pattern in the center, I also have a few in which the leaves are completely silver. Cyclamen are summer deciduous, so that during May the leaves will die back, leaving me with the problem, when planting out summer bedding, of trying to remember where the tubers are.
For many years, I have grown Schizostylis coccinea ‘Major’, which produces upright sprays of red flowers from mid September until the end of October. This excellent perennial has long, narrow leaves and spreads to form a dense clump, and it is so easy to divide and transplant. Now DNA results have transferred the well-known name of Schizostylis into the genus Hesperantha, which is yet another name I must cram into my already overloaded brain.
Many of the new plants you will see in nursery catalogues or in garden centres are the results of sports, which have occurred on existing plants. Sports are just branches, leaves, growth pattern, flowers, or fruit, which differ in some respect from the plant on which they are growing. A plant of Daphne odora ‘Walberton’, which has creamy-yellow edged, leaves has this year produced a sport in which the leaves have a much broader cream edge, if this sport persists, it might be worth a nurseryman introducing it.
This year I grew a new tomato, which I received under an experimental number, and this will be available next year under the name of ‘Aperitif’. I cannot eat tomato’s, but my wife Vi tells me it is this sweetest she has ever eaten, so I must grow it again next year.