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.
It turns out a Cabbage White is just as furry as a Gatekeeper butterfly. And everything is white, including its eye.
I think this next umbel is Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare. I love the pentagonal donut buds in the middle.
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.
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.
I think this is a cultivated form of Rosebay Willowherb, but please do correct me if I am wrong. Actually I would love to know what it is because it is beautiful and would look lovely in my Rose Garden. [Postscript: Chloris came up trumps here. It 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.
My guess is that this next one is a Salvia. I think Salvia is one of the biggest genus of plants. The foliage looked and smelt Salvia-like, and the calyx looks like Salvia, but I have been wrong many times before! [Postscript from Chloris again. It is Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’].
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.
Audience participation is needed again for this next combination. How I love this! The white umbel is either Angelica or Ammi, and what is this delicious apricot creature? I utterly love it! [Postscript from Jude: Ammi majus with apricot Verbascum. Thanks Jude!]
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.
Could you resist?
Though this Pennisetum comes close for tactility.
Another shout-out. I know, I am becoming a bit needy. What is this? [Chloris: 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 ‘King’s Lily’, Lilium regale. [correction from the incredible Chloris: it is actually Crinum powellii]. It too is feeling the heat. But it swoons so beautifully.
Anyone know what this is? Because I am asking about so many plants in this post, let’s reference this the pink loofah. [Chloris: 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.
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’. Although the ‘Pots and Troughs’ handout says it is ‘Blue Note’. You see how flaky I am today? It must be the heat. [Chloris: Salvia sclarea ‘Turkestanica’. This woman is a legend].
I can say with certainty that this is the front of Sissinghurst Castle, with the tower behind. And some very dry meadow grass.
Postscript: As you can see Chloris co-wrote this post! Do check out Chloris’s garden blog here: The Blooming Garden. You may never meet a person with more plant knowledge. Apart from Carol Klein. I love her too.
Also check out any one of Jude’s three blogs (yes three!) she is a demon with the Macro lens and writes beautiful words to accompany her images. See Cornwall in Colours, Earth laughs in flowers, and Travel Words.
My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.
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