Sissinghurst in fine form

I think it has been four or five weeks since I visited Sissinghurst.  This is unprecedented.  It has just been too hot to do anything other than languish in the shade of my own garden.

But the temperature temporarily dipped, so I could move again.

The castle is being engulfed by planting.


That’s the built structure, but today’s post is all about flower structure.  Oh, and a  butterfly.

Cabbage white butterfly on Verbena bonariensis.

It turns out a Cabbage White is furry.  And everything is white, including its eye.

P7130051 (2)
Cabbage white butterfly on Verbena bonariensis.

I think this next umbel is fennel, Foeniculum vulgare.  I love the pentagonal donut buds in the middle.


Foeniculum vulgare

Since I started studying flower structure more closely, I have noticed how many flowers have five petals.  Corncockle is another.  This also has illuminated landing strips on the petal, directing insects to the pollen.


We have had a visitor to the UK this week.  Can you guess who?


I tried to grow this next flower, giant scabious, Cephalaria gigantea, from seed this year.  I got one plant.  I punished it by not watering it.  This is known as cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.  We are all prone to this at times.  The scabious got the last laugh.  Here it is flirting with a bumble bee.

Cephalaria gigantean being hugged by a bumblebee.

This next seedhead is deliciously cobwebby and frayed.  I’m going to call it the ‘Miss Haversham’  or ‘gossamer’ flower.  Does anyone know what it actually is?


Whereas this Eryngium (sea holly) is every bit as spiky as it looks.  Ouch.


I couldn’t work out whether this is a geranium or a pelargonium.  I think the latter, as its leaves were scented, and the flowers are held in sprays.  Plus I am a geranium nerd, and I haven’t come across it before.  It was growing through an equally leaf-scented salvia.


This delightful creature is Epilobium ‘Stahl Rose’].


The last time I visited Sissinghurst, it was floriously overrun with foxgloves.  This time there was just the odd last spike.  This one is both feeling the heat and being stabbed in the back.  Poor thing.


I have posted about Phlox twice now (Boring… and Phloxy Lady?).  This might be even lovelier!  It was even more scented and had smaller, more delicate flowers.  Some super-clever fellow garden blogger might know the variety.  I love the way the petals don’t overlap, and that they retain a lovely freshness.


This is Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’.  Is there no end to the delights of salvia?


This was a lovely ruffled clematis.  It reminds me of a flannel nightie.  Or a housecoat.  Remember those?


Now let’s have some fireworks.  This is an Allium Christophii seedhead.  I am always quick to deadhead my alliums because I don’t want the borders to look dried out in June.  But I can see why you would want to retain their structure.

Allium christophii seedhead

This white umbel is Ammi majus, with apricot Verbascum.


Here it is just peeking in with another gang of unidentified umbelifers:


I think I am getting a little addicted to umbels.  It is their formality and their informality.  The highly regular structure, combined with irregular bending and swaying, to make these ingenious nets.


Another lovely regular and irregular form is Angel’s Fishing Rods, Dierama pulcherrimum, also known as Fairy Wand and Wandflower.  There is nothing quite like it for brushing past, and brushing past again.

Angel’s Fishing Rods, Dierama pulcherrimum

Could you resist?

Angel’s Fishing Rods, Dierama pulcherrimum

Though this Pennisetum comes close for tactility.


I love the textures of evening primrose, Oenothera.


Whilst I love many South African flowers, Kniphofia, red hot pokers, are not my favourites.  But I love these yellow ones.  Especially this one with a cheeky little wiggle.


Even without a wiggle it is endearing.  The hoverfly agrees.

I think this is Crinum powellii.  It too is feeling the heat.  But it swoons so beautifully.


This pink loofah is Sanguisorba obtusa.


I think this is a nodding onion, Allium cernuum.  And why wouldn’t you want a nodding onion?


Is this another salvia?  It looks lovely with the achillea behind.  The colours harmonise, but the upright spikes of salvia contrast with the flat plates of achillea.


Now we all have our prejudices, some more subconscious than others.  I am very conscious of this prejudice.  My head knows that acanthus is handsome and has a lovely structure.  My heart associates it with a horrible time in my life, and I can’t seem to extricate the two.  Does anyone else have this problem with a poor innocent plant?


I’ll just comfort myself with clematis.


And another foxglove.  What a foxglove.  Digitalis mertonensis.

Digitalis mertonensis

Hmmm…Angelica gigas? It doesn’t seem domed enough…


I think I would like to crawl in here for a little nap.  This was used, I think, in Piet Oudolf’s garden at Hampton Court.  If it wasn’t, it should have been.


Just in case you think there hasn’t been enough petalage in this post.  Let’s have a Dahlia.  It’s got a bit confused about gravity and is upside down.  We all do occasionally.


I can’t write a post about form without including the giant thistles.  Respect.  These were about three metres tall.  Just look at the spikes.  Only kohlrabi beats it in the alien lifeform stakes.


Now for some fluff.


And my old favourite, Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’.


I can say with certainty that this is the front of Sissinghurst Castle, with the tower behind.  And some very dry meadow grass.


My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. photosociology says:

    I wish I could help you with flower names, but I can’t. The corncockle is beautiful.

    1. Ali says:

      It is, isn’t it? That’s ok re: flower names; you are my photography coach!

  2. These are absolutely beautiful. I feel as though you’re taking me on a lovely tour around the garden. I want to go to Sissinghurst next year. Which month do you think is best (it’s the white garden that I’m most excited about). X

    1. Ali says:

      Actually it is looking lovely about now, as the planting has reached its height. I would say any time in June or July. It also looked lovely at tulip time.

      1. Thanks, I think I’ll head there next year in June … that would be perfect. I might drag my mother and father in law with me too. They’d like that. My mother and I used to go to Wisley a lot.

      2. Ali says:

        Give me a shout if you want to stop by here!

      3. Oooh yes please! I can have a drool over your garden! Sissinghurst will pale in comparison in my eyes! Katie

      4. Ali says:

        Haha! No pressure then!!

  3. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Oh, I laughed out loud about the clematis seed head (is that what it is?) and ‘Miss Haversham’ could just as well fit the bill! I can’t help with any of the identification, but I did enjoy the Sissinghurst tour, thanks Ali.

  4. Emma Cownie says:

    Ah, you really caught the beauty of the Cabbage White, who I though was a rather ordinary chap until I saw your photgraphs.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s amazing how much detail that lens picks up. Everything is interesting close up!

  5. I like the corncockle the best with it’s landing strips. How unique and beautiful.
    When you have a drought there, are you able to water your gardens? I’ve heard many say they are losing plants. That is normal summer weather for here and much of it is spent watering, which is why I limit my potted plants since they need a drink every day in this heat.

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, we are allowed to use hose pipes at the moment; the reservoirs are quite full still. I am watering things on a bit of a rota. Just now I am watering a rose hedge that I have never watered before, but I am starting to think I will lose things if I don’t.

  6. bcparkison says:

    Oh goodness…Don’t ask me. I depend on you for plant ID.
    Beautiful Photos.

  7. Heyjude says:

    Miss Haversham looks familiar, but no name is coming to me.
    Definitely a pelargonium. But not one of mine 😦
    First umbel possibly Ammi visagna
    Next one looks like Ammi majus with apricot verbascum?
    Pale orange one – hibiscus? Hard to tell without an open flower.
    Don’t know the pink loofah unless it is a Persicaria?
    I’d agree with you about the Angelica gigas
    Trouble is that there are so many varieties of plants that look similar that it all becomes very confusing unless the gardeners use plant labels. I am a big fan of labels. Nice ones of course, nothing too shabby. At the end of the day, unless you want to buy one of the flowers you get just as much pleasure simply looking at them. I too have been neglecting garden visits. Too hot to drive and I am very happy just loitering in my own little plot.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Jude! You are a star!

  8. Chloris says:

    Lucky you living so close to Sissinghurst. Gorgeous photos. Right, here comes the nerdy stuff- plant identifications. Yes, definitely a Pelargonium, possibly P. reniforme. The rose bay willow herb is Epilobium ‘Stahl Rose’. The pink salvia is Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’. The lovely orange flower is Sphaeralcea ambigua. The orange and yellow flower is an evening primrose, Oenothera, possibly ‘Lemon Sunset’. The lily is not Lilium regale, it is Crinum powellii. The pink loofah is Sanguisorba obtusa. The last salvia is Salvia sclarea ‘Turkestanica’ which is pretty but it smells disgusting.
    I can see it must have been hot here, I have just got back from France and my poor garden is burnt to a crisp even though I had somebody in to water every couple of days.

    1. Ali says:

      Oh Chloris, thank you so much! You are an encyclopaedia of plant knowledge!

      1. Chloris says:

        That’s a nice way of putting it. My husband calls me a total anorak.

  9. I love this idea of studying the structure of a flower. For some reason, I have never thought about studying a flower that way, and it makes me want to. I also love the picture of the flower that has landing strips for bees to find pollen. That is AWESOME.

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