In the Summer Garden right now we have repeats of this deep blue agapanthus in full flower, and every day I hear people talking about it. We’ve placed them amongst grasses and alongside bright yellow achillea, so it stands out a mile. This deep, dark blue is one of the more unusual varieties. Agapanthus are more often a lighter blue or white. They don’t come in anything on the red spectrum.
Agapanthus are summer bulbs from South Africa and they will make a big impact in your borders or in containers. They aren’t cheap; (I saw two bulbs in a 20cm pot for £8 the other day), but they will last for many years so they are good value in the long run.
I keep seeing them outside snazzy beach-themed holiday properties, and they have come to be an architectural flower of summer; a flowering version of a bay tree in a pot by the door. It makes sense as they are the colour of sea and sky and they work well on their own or companion planted with a variety of colours and forms – whatever takes your fancy.
They like a good soil and don’t like sitting in wet, so whether you plant them out, or in containers, incorporate grit if drainage is poor. Oh, and don’t bother with them if you only have a shaded space – they need full sun. They give interest for a long period as they go from leaves to flower to seed heads over many months. You can get evergreen varieties too for even longer interest, but they are less frost hardy than the decidiuous ones.
If you grow yours in pots, keep the pot snug to the root ball. They give better flowers when their root ball is constricted. Ours are in the ground where they form clumps and generally get on well. They are frost hardy and I don’t worry about lifting them at all. Flowering is decreased the next year if the bulbs dry out completely for a long time in the autumn. But there’s not much chance of that here on Dartmoor!
We have a fantastic new video of the garden, taken late in the afternoon on a wonderfully sunny day. Enjoy views from the tree tops and higher, swoop in over the garden paths and see the famous Ovals from above.
This video was created by Kernow Drones. We’re happy to recommend them.
If you want late summer colour choose dahlias. Enjoy different flower forms, from bouncy looking pompons to exotic waterlily styles, and a kaleidoscope of colours to fit every palette.
Dahlias are stalwarts, working hard in borders, pots or as a cut flower crop. Although they flower from June to late October, they are well known for the August / September period. I think they bridge the gap between blowsy summer planting and robust autumn colours. They bring zing to a border so I use a variety of them to introduce a bit of drama in different planting combinations.
Dahlia ‘Sunny Boy’ showing August colour in the walled garden.
Maintenance is easy. Dahlias enjoy the sun and like a rich, easy draining soil. They have tubers, like potatoes, so feed them well as you will be feeding for next year too. Slugs love them, so you will need to protect them. If you choose tall varieties stake well and early as stems snap easily in the wind.
Consider foliage colour, which varies from light greens to deep purple, giving opportunities to under-plant with exciting combinations. For example, we’ve married orange (pictured) on bright green stems with purples and golds from verbena and heleniums for a blaze of colour.
Grow dahlias from seed, plant tubers or take cuttings in late spring. A packet of seeds will give you dahlias for years.
They die right back at the first frost and you’ll lose them over winter in wet ground or sub-zero temperatures. It’s a good idea to lift them in late autumn after the first frost when the stems flop. You can risk leaving them in the ground with a good mulch to protect them – as long as you are confident of predicting a dry winter that’s not too cold. And if you can do that, come and see me for a job as the garden weather forecaster!
This time of year attention turns to the walled garden, where 16th century ruins are a humble backdrop to deeply colourful borders. It’s a real show stopper.
To see more pictures of the garden each week, find us on Facebook. The-Garden-House-Devon. Our photographer captures the garden changing each week and visitors often share their pictures with us too. It’s such a treat to bask in colour and flowers and enjoy the garden at any time.
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