I am very pleased to see that a favourite self-seeder Erigeron karvinskianus is beginning to colonise the steps to the front door. When I first encountered this plant in a nursery near Usk fifteen years ago it was adorning ancient stone steps and I hoped it would do the same here. There’s been no shortage of self-seeding from pot to pot but it took a few years to establish on the treads of the steps even though it will survive in cracks on paving. So last year I tried blowing the seeds into the join where the tread meets the riser and it seems to have worked there are now about ten small plants at various levels. It’s a simply gorgeous plant and as the summer progresses the white flowers fade to a deep pink with a bright yellow eye.
Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris has done well this year covering walls on both sides of the garden. It’s in flower now and mingles on one wall with the blackish-purple leaves of Sambucus nigra. The flowers of this elder are soft pink and I have been assured that they can be used in the same way that the common elder is for making syrup. I experimented with a jam made from strawberries cooked with six pale pink flower heads and it tastes delicious with a hint of elderflower.
I steeped the flower heads for 10 minutes in lemon juice and a syrup made from 50grams of water plus 50grams of caster sugar. This I strained onto 550grams of mashed up strawberries. I added 400 grams of jam sugar and stirred over a gentle heat to dissolve the sugar. It boiled rapidly for 10 minutes and produced two jars of delicious jam with a definite hint of elderflower.
A friend brought me a gorgeous bunch of Sweet Williams which incidentally are the Dianthus family and as a short-lived perennial can be grown from seed sown in summer for next year. I stuck to similar colours for this week’s cut flowers and picked a crimson rose winding up the railings, Nigella ‘Love in a Mist’, Linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’ with its lovely spires and more purple aquilegia which has been flowering for weeks. As soon as seed has set on that and the linaria and the nigella I shall sprinkle it round various beds for next year.