We’ve Got the Power

Calendula Power Daisy Sunny

If there was a flower that summed up this glorious day it would be the Power Daisy.

I must admit that when Mrs G spotted this in a plant catalogue, although new to me and for no reason other than snobbery, I tried to steer her away.  “I think there is something really good on the next page” trying to divert her attention to something more worthy “did I see something about free Monster Munches with every purchase?”.  What I was thinking was “What kind of name is Power Daisy? Sounds like another gimmick to me.  A trap for the horticultural vulnerable”.  Of course as it was Mrs G’s party she was free to Power Daisy if she wanted to.  And she did.

And it transpires that I was quite wrong.  Well I was right about the naff name, but not about the plant.  From small beginnings last year they grew strongly, giving a fine display until late autumn. Not only have they all successfully over-wintered, they began flowering over a month ago and look likely to continue that way.  They have had no special treatment.  Just my usual love and the odd tune.

It is a calendula hybrid.  This one is called Sunny and never has a plant been more accurately named.  There is more on their story here in Mr Fothergill’s Blog.  Apparently more colours are on the way.  Bring it on!


Paeonia x lemoinei ‘Souvenir de Maxime Cornu’

Paeonia x lemoinei 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu'

I’m still reliving last week’s Plant Heritage Road Trip.  If you like you can come along too.  Jump off now if you’ve got better things to do.  Just don’t tell me, I will be hurt.

Now we have arrived at the Bishop’s Palace Garden in Wells.  It is still raining.  Waterproofs are being challenged.  There may be seepage.   We are all being very brave.  And dripping quite a lot.

Unlike our motley crew,  a little precipitation could not sully the beauty of this tree peony.  Its name, Paeonia x lemoineiSouvenir de Maxime Cornu‘, as extravagent as the bloom.  Her head hung low, unable to endure a combination of excesses; a myriad of petals, a torrent of rain.  When a friend lifted the flower for my inspection I doubted there would be a scent, but there it was, delicate and fruity.

The sun shone for a moment.

Got there in the end

Asclepias curassavica, Bloodflower

For those of you who doubt that I am a proper grown up gardener, I must confess that once upon a time I actually did some training.  And it was in horticulture.  Of all things.  Crazy I know.  And the esteemed hub of learning that had the pleasure of my patronage was none other than the world renowned Cannington College in Somerset.  Perhaps just “Cannington renowned” at the moment, but working towards greater things.

Now it gets a little complicated.  Although it was officially “Cannington College” I was actually based in a satellite division in Bristol, my time spent between Bristol Zoological Gardens (the clue is in the name) and in a defunct walled garden at Blaise Castle.  The only time we actually went to Cannington was for the Unit known as, which I think has certain industrial chic, “Machinery”. From my slightly dodgy memory, this involved driving tractors, laughing and maintaining lawnmowers.

At this time I was still working in an office whilst studying part time.  My employers generously paid for us “gals” to go for a day at Champneys Health Spa.    Included was a “healthy” lunch, full use of the gym, pool, hot tubs, a manicure and massage. With great foresight we had stocked the minibus full of wine and crisps for the return journey. The following day, when my colleagues had returned to the photocopier and filing cabinet, I was adjusting the blades on a Qualcast.  In perfect purple nail varnish. Not sure my tutor understood the irony.

During the two years that I was a Cannington student, we were never invited to the walled garden. When it was demanded that we continue our quest to achieve the perfect cut, we once again headed west.  Our minibus, driven by the wondrous and fearless Julie, arriving in the village turned utilitarian right, whilst the joys of the famous garden lay to the decorative left.  Never did the twain meet.  Were they trying to tell us something? Perhaps.

So when my local Plant Heritage group arranged a trip to this garden, it seemed that it was an opportunity for what Oprah would call “closure”.

What had I missed?  Some beauties actually.

There was a full flowered Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’.

Wedding Cake Tree, Cornus controversa 'Variegata'

A Judas tree, Cercis siliquastrum, dripping both bloody blossom

Cercis siliquastrum, Judas Tree

and seed pods.

Judas Tree, Cercis siliquastrum

The outlandishly exotic Beschorneria yuccoides

Beschorneria yuccoides

Dew dropped poppies


And weeping Iris


And much, much more.

I did skulk slightly, worried that I would be discovered and sent back to sharpen a blade or reverse a trailer into a gateway.  Old habits never ever die.

What Happened Next?

Rosa 'Rhapsody in Blue'

On Wednesday myself and the posse went on a Plant Heritage trip to Cannington Walled Garden and The Bishop’s Palace garden in Wells.  Although a little soggy a good time was had by all.

One of my highlight was this rose named Rhapsody in Blue.  As you can see, if we were to get picky about it, it isn’t strictly blue, more of a mauvey colour.  However we can forgive it for this small misdemeanour.  It was full of bud, fragrant and, as I later found out, a repeat flower.  It is not however, contrary to a vicious rumour that was circulating to the detriment of one Maggie Maynt, thornless.  We live and learn.  She managed to staunch the bleeding eventually.

This was just one of many highlights.  I wonder how many highlight you are allowed?  If there were too many it would just be classed as, “a great day all around” which of course it was.  But there were things that were extra special.  Like this rose.

Anyway, as luck would have it they had one for sale in the plant centre.  What you have to guess is, what happened next?