This Month in the Garden, July 2022, with Kate Hill

It’s hard to believe we’re already half way through the year and many plants are reaching their peak, although the Mexican fleabane daisies (Erigeron Karvinskianus) never stop flowering and never fail to charm. They seed themselves around yet never make a nuisance of themselves looking good wherever they pitch up and, despite their Latin American origins, tolerate whatever the British weather throws at them – what more could you ask for?
Other good “doers” that flower all summer long are the Astrantias (also known as Hattie’s pin cushion and masterwort). There are many varieties in shades of white, pink and red and they are a magnet for bees and other insects.
I have in the past visited Norwell Nurseries in Nottinghamshire where Dr Andrew Ward keeps the national collection of Astrantias.
His garden is open to the public and is well worth a visit. Two of the varieties I grow in my garden are shown here: Roma (pink) and Joyce (red). There’s only one downside to these plants – they smell pretty awful, so are best planted away from the edge of a border!
More of a showstopper than the daisies and Astrantias is Allium Christophii (photo at the top of the page) a bulb I wouldn’t want to be without as it too flowers for ages with huge heads made up of dozens of shiny metallic purple stars and when the flowers do go over the seed heads still look attractive. (Last Christmas I sprayed a few with silver paint to use as decorations). Another summer flowering Allium is Sphaeracephalon, which has egg shaped heads that start off green at the base then turn deep maroon. They look especially effective when planted in groups and teamed with grasses and I’m definitely going to plant more of these bulbs in the autumn.
I was delighted to see this painted lady butterfly in the garden enjoying the hardy Osteospermum daisies. It stayed around for much of the afternoon and when the sun went in and the flowers closed it then alighted on the gravel, probably absorbing the warmth from the stones but it was so well camouflaged it was almost impossible to see it, so I was somewhat relieved when it eventually flew off to land on another plant as it could so easily have got trodden on, which would have been a tragic end to such a beautiful creature which has flown all the way from North Africa. I hope it’s still enjoying daisies in someone else’s garden.