A sweet friend has asked for more purple flowers, so I've wandered the garden, camera in hand.
Now this is a woman with a serious purple-loving syndrome. (If she's only wearing one lilac or violet item I quiz her - only to be assured that hidden clothes are purple too. I always make it clear that I believe her and no, I do not need to see her underwear.)
Clematis are doing their spring-thing a bit late (above, no complaints from me), pentstemons (last pic) have started their warm weather flowering, and the saffron crocus pot has had its summer addition of opal basil (below). The tiny crocus are in this pot so that they don't get lost in the hurly-burly of the garden, but the pot looks too bare in summer...enter opal basil with its dark purple leaves. (Pop a sprig of this basil into a bottle of vinegar and voilà, you have a pink culinary treat or present.) My purple basil is joined this year with cinnamon basil, new to me, and with green leaves that, when crushed, have a basil fragrance with, after a few seconds, a strong hint of cinnamon.
I'm also enjoying the last of my Papaver `Lauren's Grape' (top), a tall and stately plant with flowers of fairly deep purple in that wonderful poppy shape that's so pretty and elegant, and beloved for this reason. I am preparing a talk on poppies and dang, I love the poppies with their delicate petals, particularly when the plant is single (4 petals), not double (8 or more). And, boy, I Love the effect and contrast with my Papaver `Lauren's Grape' amid loads of silver foliage (mostly Plume poppy (how apt!), Macleaya cordata). An effect to repeat, as I watch the poppy seedpods for ripeness, to collect before the fine seeds are tossed out.
(Speaking of poppies, several years ago, we saw carpets of red Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeus, or Corn Poppy) in France; a feast for the eyes...and I forget that it's a symbol of death (& rebirth) and WW1, and simply enjoyed the scene for its colour, effect and joie de vivre - and also rejoice that this flower seemed plentiful, as various meadow species round the globe are pushed to the edge by farming and housing.)
Poppy seeds are tiny, and a friend tells me to scatter the seed over mulch (rather than shallow burying) in autumn, to get good germination rates - and sow thinly. Certainly planting seeds in situ is usually far more successful than transplanting plants or seedlings.
Great advice for autumn!
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria. (www.jillweatherheadgardendesign.com.au)