The autumn foliage has fallen, the first frosts have hit, there’s been a rough-and-ready tidy through the garden – so it’s time for another meeting of the Dead Plant Society. The last formal meeting was back in 2009 but, believe me, a lot of members have gone, come and gone again since then. Especially after the plague of voles a few years back.
Yet again the orphaned labels are all collecting in a coffee can – you’ll notice we’ve upgraded our brand of Cuban coffee since 2009.
The members of the Dead Plants Society fall into three groups: Those we know are frost tender – but which we didn’t get moved inside soon enough; those we hope will survive but don’t; and those you’d think it would be impossible to kill but which still never came back this last summer. Plus there’s also the Denial Of Death Department – the label is in the coffee can, but I can’t quite believe that it’s gone.
Frosted and gone
We brought our spectacular Pandorea in along with scented-leaved geraniums and the superb Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ but a few others were, sadly, frosted to pulp.
Impatiens ‘Fusion Peach Frost’ A harmony in flower and foliage colour (above, click to enlarge) but it’s not always easy to find so a few cuttings would have been wise.
Cleome Senorita Series Propagated by cuttings, these long-flowering plants for sun are bushy and upright and without the spines or stickiness of the old big cleomes. The pink Senorita Rosalita is much more effective than the not-quite-white and not-quite-pink Senorita Blanca – but we’ve lost them both.
Begonia Bonfire Choc Red One of the recent B. x boliviensis hybrids, lovely with bronzed foliage and red flowers. Pulped by a surprise light frost, ‘Santa Cruz Scarlet’ is cozily tucked away.
We hope, we coddle, we talk to them nicely and play them soft music – and they die.
Lobelia cardinalis ‘Eco Pink Flare’ (left, click to enlarge) This gorgeous, found-in-the-wild pink form of the local native cardinal flower (which survives the winter happily growing in our little creek) seems to have given up the tussle with more vigorous neighbors.
Salvia ‘La Crema’ This gorgeous new variegated sage struggled through one winter, died, was replaced, struggled through another winter, died - and I fear it’s now gone for ever. Hates being overwhelmed by its neighbors. But beautiful.
Stokesia laevis ‘Colorwheel’ The flowers open almost white, then mature through pale to lavender, and finally to purple. Should be hardy, the soil was probably too wet in winter. Find out more here.
What? It’s dead?!
These are tough and easy - they should not die. But they have.
Achillea ‘Pineapple Mango’ These achilleas are amongst the toughest of everything we grow, this one opens in rich pink, develops through salmon shades and matures pale primrose yellow. Well, it used to. Perhaps it’s those voles again.
Brunnera ‘King’s Ransom’ We tend to think that all the recent brunneras are tough – but not this one with its gold-edged silver leaves. At its best it’s weak; at its worst, it’s gone.
Heuchera ‘Rave On’ Fantastic flowers and foliage, and another genuine toughie, but representative of the heucheras munched by vine weevil. ‘Raspberry Chiffon’ and the sail-though-the-winter ‘Citronelle’ are also gone.
Silybum marianum This spectacular plant with the name that never ceases to amuse kids, is a big and bold biennial with brightly spotted rosettes and towers of purple flowers. It should self sow, I blame the chipmunks for eating the seeds.
Denial Of Death department
I just don’t believe these are dead, the label should be in the border and not in the coffee can.
Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’ Very early, very frost hardy – it must be there somewhere and might well open its first flowers in the next month.
Lilium philadelphicum This lovely tall local native lily is just beautiful but, although it usually emerges through lower perennials, may have been smothered like the Lobelia cardinalis ‘Eco Pink Flare’ farther along the border.
Uvularia sessilifolia (right, click to enlarge) I collected plants of this little local woodland Solomon's seal relation from the woods because the tips of each leaf were creamy yellow. In the garden, they all turned completely green and it set off to colonize with some vigor. Now it’s gone? Let’s give it another year.
Needless to say, this is just a selection from the Dead Plant Society’s members. They’ll continue to meet in the coffee can as long as we gardeners contrive to prevent their survival.