Rich colours in the late summer garden, no matter what I do


I’ve never tried to make a rich display for late summer, creating those kind of semitropical displays with canna lilies that Christopher Lloyd loved so much. I don’t like cannas, or bananas, and the dahlias I tried were martyrs to earwigs.

But no matter what I do (or don’t do) my garden seems to do the rich colour thing at this time of year, in mid-to-late August.

Everywhere is the backdrop of overgrown green foliage, and even one or two points of sharp colour against it — the crocosmia, the red rose Etoile de Holland and clematis Polish Spirit — create that sumptuous feeling.

What is gorgeous in your garden this week?


Crocus Prins Claus thrives in the coldest spring



I promised you I would show a picture of this gorgeous species Crocus when it was in flower – I love it. Prins Claus has dark purple staining on the base outside of the white petals, with bright yellow stamens on the inside. Here, it’s growing in an old, weathered terracotta pot. If I forget, remind me to order dozens more of this bulb this coming autumn. Thanks to everyone who has suggested good gardens I could visit in lower and upstate New York. Do you know of any good ones in western Massachusetts? Some that I have looked at do not open until mid-May, and I will be in the area the week of the 7th through 14th May.

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Crocus Prins Claus doesn’t mind the snow


Click for larger image

This species crocus has not minded the cold March weather at all. You can just see the purple colour at the throat of the flower, which I expect to open up in the next few days, snow or no snow.

Another white crocus I planted — I think it was Ard Schenk – has suffered badly from slugs. I sat by one of them the other day and watched as it was warmed by the sun and promptly fell over, having been nibbled at the base. I love the delicacy of Prins Claus – I’ll try to share a picture soon of a pot of them growing on my steps, if springtime ever springs and they open up.

What crocus or other early flowers are pleasing you at the moment?

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The Scottish daffodil without a name


double yellow daffodil from Mull stopwatch gardener

For six years I’ve been trying to identify this sophisticated double daffodil with the shredded, egg yolk-yellow centre. I found it growing just outside the walled garden of my mother-in-law’s house in Mull, off the west coast of Scotland.

The helpful David Wong of Plantedd has suggested it looks something like Narcissus “Glowing Phoenix,” and it may well be, but I’m going to have another look when it flowers this year and compare it against the Phoenix pictures. My mystery bulb also resembles Narcissus Eystettensis, which has the same shredded centre but is one colour throughout.

I like to imagine a romantic past for this unique flower: maybe it joined the other spring flowering bulbs that I know this Scottish garden used to provide to the ancient abbey on the island of Iona, about an hour away.

I’m really keen to identify this flower for my mother-in-law. If you are (or know) a narcissus connoisseur or other bulb expert, I’d be grateful for your help.

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Cyclamen coum and osmanthus delvayii



We all know that January has very little to recommend it, which is why I wanted to show you this pleasing combination: cyclamen coum and the evergreen shrub osmanthus delvayii.

This osmanthus is very slow growing and its small, glossy leaves are lightening this dim corner of the garden. Its white buds are  visible even now, and by early April it will have a glorious scent.

What’s pleasing in your garden today?

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