This Month in the Garden, October 2020, with Derek Cox

First of all let me correct a mistake in my September article in which I wrote about Verbena growing around an Iris yew. I am sure my Irish ancestors will forgive me for this mistake when it should have said Irish yew.

The gales during late August broke a fence post and two panels on my South facing overlap fence so my lady gardener’s partner Jay came along measured them up and has now replaced them.

One of the panels had been partly damaged by the branches of Campsis ‘Madam Galen’ a vigorous climber that was growing close by. Although this has attractive orange trumpet shaped flowers during August and September, for the last 3 years it has produced so much growth and the branches found their way through the cracks between the overlaps in the fence and as they grew and expanded they split the woodwork so I asked Jay to take it out. After the new panel was fitted I worked plenty of compost into the soil in the front of it and then close to the fence planted Scizophragma hydrangoides ‘Rose Sensation’ which is a self climber with pink flowers during May/June. I already grow Scizophragma hydrangoides on the East facing wall of my house and this has white flowers. Pileostegia viburnoids is another self adhering, but evergreen climber that I have grown for over 30 years against the South facing fence. This produces masses of small white flowers in large panicles and they have a strong fragrance.

During the first week in September I had an email from a gardener in the South of the country showing me a photograph of Vitex agnus-castus latifolia’ pictured left, with many spires of blue flowers.

He said this was a rare shrub that is not often seen in the UK. I emailed him back to say that I grew this in my garden and it always produced its flowers during September/October.

The flower spikes resemble those of a Buddleia and as it flowers on its current year growth I prune this down by two thirds of its previous year’s growth during April. I would point out that while I grow this in a well drained sandy loam, it will not thrive in heavy wet soils.

Last year I wrote about a golden leaf form of Caryopteris that had seeded into my bog garden and I thought this might be worth introducing, but it is similar to two other Caryopteris that are already in garden centres, however I still have hopes for it. Having said this, while visiting my daughter Louise and her hubby James we visited a small garden centre near to Burton on Trent and there I came across Caryopteris clandanensis ‘White Surprise’, pictured above, whose grey leaves are edged with creamy-white, but the surprise is that now and again branches will appear with almost pure white leaves.

I am very fond of Heucheras and although I have 11 different ones in my garden, whilst walking around a garden centre in Derbyshire I came across a stand containing five varieties and two of these caught my eye. One was Heuchera ‘Gojiberry’, pictured above right, with light orange foliage; the other was the outstanding Heuchera ‘Cherry Truffles’ with deep red foliage. Heucheras are evergreen, very hardy and produce white, pink, or red flowers during the summer.

My Cyclamen hederifolium have been in flower for the last month and will grow in full sun, or even in the shade beneath my Rhododendrons. Sometimes they are inclined to seed themselves into my gravel screes and have to be weeded out. My runner beans have finally given up producing beans, but a few old beans have been taken off and lay to dry in my greenhouse to provide next year’s seed.