Square In September: Last Hurrah

Rose with rounded shape and droplets of rain

Rosa ‘Olivia Austin’

This is my last week to share square pictures of pink roses and, to celebrate, this week’s roses come with extras for those who were part of the challenge, or kindly indulged my weakness, even though they are not quite as keen on roses. First, a pink rose named for a lovely lady. It ticks the strongly fragrant box and though I don’t know this variety quite as well as some of the others, with further acquaintance, I suspect it would be one of my favourites. Though I can’t claim this is a bud, it is only partly open and will eventually become a rosette.

Flowers in shades of pink with starry shapes

Pink astrantia

This celebration of a flower is for Becky, for hosting the challenge so gracefully, and for all those who took part, many of them sharing a square cropped picture with varying amounts of pink in it for the whole month. Well done! I’ve loved seeing them all appear in The Reader.

Paphiopedilum in shades of white, pink, crimson and cream

Paphiopedilum collection (Venus slipper orchids)

For orchid lovers, here’s a collection of them, In The Pink, and artfully arranged with moss, slate and logs.  Continue reading

Great Companion Plants For a Cottage Garden: Astrantia

Astrantias at Arley Hall

First, What is a companion plant?

Plant society members often think of their ‘pet’ plants as the stars of any border: flowering perennials, shrubs, trees and climbing plants that are guaranteed to turn heads. Think of peonies, roses, hydrangeas, day lilies, dahlias, delphiniums, hollyhocks, or even topiary as in the picture of Arley Hall, above.

Companion plants are the ones with more of a supportive role. They are chosen to complement the feature plants, contrasting or harmonising with them, in colour, texture or form. I can’t imagine a traditional herbaceous border without companions to fill in the gaps and create a harmonious  tapestry. While companions add to the richness and diversity of the garden, they will not compete too aggressively for the limelight or for resources such as food, water or space. They create a healthier ecosystem by attracting beneficial insects.

Many of my favourite companion plants are long-flowering, allowing the garden to transition seamlessly from one season to another. You might have overlooked every one of the companion plants I’ll be highlighting in this short series of posts, but I believe they’re worth their moment in the spotlight.

Astrantia (masterwort)

Red astrantia

Astrantias are such useful, trouble-free companion plants that you’d be hard pressed to find a major English garden without them. Masses of small umbels are held airily on wiry stems like a profusion of stars, as their Latin name suggests. The intricate, lacey flowers are encircled by papery bracts of varying lengths.  Continue reading