Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) is an evergreen shrub in flower now. It is a shrub that grows to a maximum height and spread of about five feet. It has soft foliage that is grey in colour and densely hairy. In June and July it produces dark yellow flowers. A native of the Mediterranean it likes a sunny spot, with protection from cold winter winds. It is reliably hardy in all but the coldest gardens, although hard frost can cause damage to the shoot tips. It grows best in well drained soils, especially in limy soils. It can become leggy and bare at the base unless pruned annually after the flower is finished. It is a plant that flowers best when young so propagate a new plant every few years. To propagate take softwood cuttings in the summer.
Phlomis purpurea is a native of Spain and Portugal and produces purple to pink, occasionally white flowers. Phlomis lanata is a compact, mound forming variety that grows about 20 inches tall. It produces golden yellow flowers and is suitable for the rock garden. Phlomis italica is another small variety that grows about 12 inches tall and produces lilac pink flowers.
Herbaceous plant of the week
Phygelius aequalis (Cape figwort) is a plant from South Africa that can withstand our cold winters. The plant may die back to ground level in frost but will burst back into growth in spring. The plant grows to a height of 3-4 feet tall producing sprays of dusty pink flowers. Phygelius aequalis ‘Yellow Trumpet’ produces creamy yellow tubular flowers. Phygelius x rectus ‘African Queen’ has pale red flowers.
Phygelius grows best in a sunny position in moist but well drained soil. It may be grown in a shrub or herbaceous border. If grown in a herbaceous border the plant can be cut back to the ground in spring. Since the plant is on the tender side, protect it with a mulch each autumn.
When given ideal conditions and very little frost the plant may spread extensively by suckers and will spread through neighbouring plants, so plant it in a space where it can spread as it likes. The plant may be propagated by taking softwood cuttings in late spring or removing rooted suckers in spring. In frost prone areas place the young plants in a greenhouse plants over the winter.
Climber of the week
Cytisus battandieri (Pineapple broom) is a climber that is hard to beat at this time of the year. This tall Moroccan shrub was first introduced in 1922 and for a long time it was thought to be a tender plant. It is best grown in full sun with shelter from cold winds. It is a deciduous shrub with silvery grey leaves. In June the plant is covered with golden yellow flowers that form large upright cones. The flowers have a strong scent of pineapples. It can grow up to 18 feet tall with a similar spread.
The plant may be pruned after flowering or early spring to remove branches that are crossing over each other, do not cut back into the old wood. The plant flowers on shoots of the previous year. The plant grows best in well drained neutral to acid soil. Plant in the autumn or spring, all cytisus resent root disturbance.
All the hard work in the vegetable garden in spring will now be paying off, with fresh vegetables available daily.
Jobs for the week
If white fly has been a problem in the greenhouse, plant some extra pots of basil. White fly prefers basil to many other plants in the greenhouse. When the basil is well covered with the white fly dump the plant.