This Month in the Garden – October 2019 with Derek Cox

Cordyline’s are evergreen perennials which are native to New Zealand, but they are fairly hardy and suitable for growing in most fertile garden soils where their attractive sword shaped leaves come in many colours. I already grow ‘Jester’ whose green, cream and dark pink striped leaves look attractive in a 12 inch (30cm) pot on a raised wall in my garden. I have thought of purchasing more and then, while visiting Swarkstone garden centre I came across Cordyline ‘Pink Passion’ whose bronze leaves were edged with bright pink. Looking at this I thought we must have this so I purchased one and at the same time remarked on the pink pot in which it was growing. I was informed that black pots are not recyclable and as a consequence you may see plants on offer in garden centres in pots of various colours to enable them to be recycled.
At the same garden centre I came across Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’, which during late August, September and early October carries two feet (60cm) tall stems of bright yellow flowers. This attractive perennial is at its best when grown in a moist fertile soil. It will grow, as it does in my garden in a sandy loam that dries out very quickly and in such soils it will require regular watering.
For the last two years I have grown Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ in a fertile soil that is shaded from strong sunlight by a Chinese witch hazel. This is a superb perennial that is mainly grown for its large green leaves that are richly striped with silvery-white. If ‘Jack Frost’ is grown in full sun, especially in dry soils, you may find the leaf edges will turn brown. Having mentioned three of my perennials I had better mention a number of shrubs that I find will produce a good crop of flowers during the late summer and autumn. Salvia ‘Hot Lips ‘is a Mexican sub shrub, which produces a mass of small. Two toned white and red flowers from June until late October. It also has strong sage scented foliage. I grow this in a 12 inch (30cm) ornamental pot, which enables me to take the pot into my cold greenhouse during the winter.
During the following spring I cut the branches back to half their length, knocked it out of its pot and then cut two inches off the bottom of the root ball and roughly one inch around the outer edge of the root ball before repotting it into its original pot.
In one of my sunny borders I grow Vitex agnus-castus, commonly known as the chaste tree. In my garden this forms a four feet (1.2m) tall deciduous shrub that produces spires of fragrant violet-blue flowers during late August, September and into early October. Although native to the Mediterranean I have found this to be hardy and as it produces its flowers on its current year’s growth I can prune it during early April to keep it neat and tidy.
For the last 30 years I have grown Pileostegia viburnoids on a South facing fence where it took almost 20 years to cover a six x six feet (1.8 x 1.8m) portion of the fence. This is a superb evergreen climber with glossy, leathery leaves and masses of small white flowers that attract bees. If this has one fault it is that it does occasionally drop branches onto the floor and these will then crawl along the ground in search of something else onto which they can climb.
While walking down Oxford Street I came across a garden in which completely double yellow, pink and red hollyhocks were growing.
So I walked up to the door and asked Vijay, the lady at the house if, when they had set seed could I have a few seed.
During the second week of September there was a knock at the door and there stood Vijay with a plastic bag of both yellow and pink seed. I sowed half the seed in my greenhouse and the other half will now wait until next spring before being sown in sunny borders.