It’s hard not to be envious of telly experts who talk of their ‘cut flower’ gardens isn’t it? Most people don’t have the sort of expansive spaces where an area can be wholly dedicated to beautiful stems and that also takes quite a bit of work. However, it’s not just florals like daffodils, tulips, dahlias and delphiniums which give great vaseage and believe me, there are very inexpensive ways of having fresh flowers filling your home with scent and colour.
I’m lucky enough to have a decent sized garden, but it’s also a Manchester garden. It’s been a bit wet up here in the last few summers, with heavy soil which has pretty much destroyed my dreams of endlessly flowering bulbs. Most of mine have died off pathetically or didn’t even flower, despite my efforts to create drainage 😦
So I changed tack in 2016 to think about flowering perennials, larger plants which survive year after year. Last year I discovered a stunner, an Agastache called “Black Adder”. I bought two smallish pots from a small grower in Lincoln (see my advice post on plant buying here) and popped them into the centre of our new grey sett circle. The purple fluffy florals have leaves which also smell delicious, a bit like a minty sweet, and my bees went bonkers for them as soon as they were planted. This below is what they looked like when first planted in May 2016 and though they looked pretty, I was hoping for more than seven flowers this year!
Did I get more than seven? Boy, did I. Just look at it now, and this is after cutting a load for the house!! It’s such a gorgeous plant, with deep rich green and purple hues. The stems are strong and sturdy, the flowers last well over a week in a vase and they just keep on growing all summer. Isn’t their fluffiness adorable too, they look fab with other flowers like the white Goats Rue below. I filled this vase yesterday afternoon and the Agastache plant behind doesn’t even look like it’s been touched, unlike when you chop cut flowers
I can’t recommend it enough, honestly, it’s a fab addition to the garden for my bees and pollinators, for it’s scent, size, ease, looks and the endless fuzzy blooms.
On the practical side, are some pointers if you now want to dash out and buy one, or order some online:
- Agastache Black Adder likes a sunny spot, not necessarily all day, but certainly for a good few hours. It’s fully hardy, though could do with mulching in a very cold winter. Mine get sun from dawn up to around 2pm.
- It’ll grow to approx 1m high and 1/2m wide but you can pinch it out to keep it smaller. Or cut for flowers obv!
- I trimmed my Black Adder back a little in November to tidy it up, but don’t cut them right back too radically. It started growing bigger in April and has flowered ever since, with me cutting flowers from it willy nilly to keep it under control. It’s ace!
- There are lots of varieties of Agastache other than Black Adder, some fully hardy and some more delicate and frost susceptible.
- Luckily I haven’t had any issue with snails or slugs attacking them, though other gardeners say they’ve decimated theirs. Maybe my stone setts surrounding the plants put the chompers off?
- I haven’t tried dividing them but am going to follow others’ advice which is that Black Adder doesn’t like to be moved, the roots go deep and they like to stay put.
- I’ve fed them with all purpose soluble plant feed every couple of months or so and they seem to have done well on that.
Right, that’s enough waxing lyrical about this plant, it’s time to get back outside and finish the huge serving table we built yesterday. Here’s a sneaky peek before I blog it next week!