This Month in the Garden, September 2020 with Derek Cox

Although I have 16 trees growing in my garden, only one of these Acer campestre is a native to the UK. This is our native field or hedge maple of which I grow the variety ‘Carnival’ whose leaves are richly variegated with white. Although this will form only a small tree it is not one that I would readily recommend and this is due to the branches constantly producing green reverted leaves, not just on the tips of the branches, but also all along each branch so that I have to go out once a month between May and September pruning out the green reversion.

I have another carnival growing in a South facing border and this is Clerodendron trichotomum ‘Carnival’, which although being in a South facing border has a dwarf mountain pine in front of it to keep off the midday sun.‘Carnival’ has large blue-green leaves that have a broad, but irregular yellow edge, even as a foliage plant it looks spectacular, but when in flower during August and early September it is even more imposing as it produces heads of white flowers and each flower is surrounded by a maroon calyx.

After the flowers have been pollinated a crop of shining blue berries appears. A beautiful deciduous shrub with one fault, this is when the foliage is brushed against it has a pungent scent.

For many years I have grown a number of Hypericum’s, which go under the common name of St Johns wort, or Rose of Sharon. Most form small to medium sized deciduous, or in some cases evergreen shrubs with large yellow, or golden flowers from June until October. For the average garden Hypericum ‘Hidcote’ is one of the best forming a six feet (1.8m) tall deciduous shrub, which as it flowers on its current years growth can be pruned during April to keep it smaller.

Some 15 years ago at the Alpine Garden Society show in Loughborough I came across Hypericum aegypticum offered for sale in a 7cm pot. At first it was the name that intrigued me as I was in the army in Egypt for two years and never ever saw an Hypericum, then it struck me that this must have been growing in the Aegean, either in the mountains of Greece, or Turkey.

I purchased this and planted in alpine compost on the corner of an alpine trough and now 15 years later it still only forms a dense evergreen shrub with very small grey leaves and small yellow flowers; which as I write this look glorious. See picture above.

Once lockdown was over for much of the county I drove Vi out to Thornton reservoir and had a pleasant walk around part of the reservoir before popping across to Thornton Nursery where Vi (do not buy any more plants) came across Coprosma repens ‘Pacific Sunset’ whose shining purple-red leaves have a yellow stripe down their centre. This has been up potted and now stands on the wall around my raised dwarf Rhododendron bed where it seems to glow.

The Verbena ‘Endurascape’ that I planted last year around my golden Iris yew are looking very good in both pink and red heads of flowers. I dead head these to stop them setting seed and keep them flowering.

This year I decided to grow my tomatoes in a grow bag and as I am allergic to tomatoes I only grow three plants for Vi. This year I grew ‘Cherrola’ from seed, but it is the worst tomato that I have ever grown, for every 18 inches of growth it produces one truss of 12 shining green tomatoes that seem reluctant to ripen. I feed them with tomato fertilizer and once a month give each plant a teaspoonful of sulphate of potash to encourage flowers and fruit, but even so all I seem to get are masses of growth and foliage.