Thursday’s Feature: Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’

The new Echniacea hybrid ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ by Fleuroselect appeared in garden centres everywhere this summer, and I was quite taken by it.


This photo above from the Fleuroselect website shows the complete range of colours the hybrid includes, so the pictures of my Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ are perhaps misleading… this colour mix ranges from deep banana yellow to crimson, going through various pinky reds and orangey reds along the way. I picked a lovely orangey red with a hint of pink as the flowers fade, and with a deep red centre…


This plant is safe and sound from slug attack – in a pot and on a bench, well out of reach! As with all my other Echinacea bought over the years it will be planted out in autumn, I will delight at seeing it reappear in spring, and then before I can say ‘copper tape’ it has been devoured by the hungry slimey creatures who rule my garden!


Still, for one season of gorgeous blooms it was worth the few euros spent on it. 😀

In our climate Echinaceas flower from July through to October. They are great for vases – the seed heads too, which I leave standing until the stalks collapse in winter. A good mulch in autumn will add some protection and possibly help against slugs in the spring.

I am joining Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome again this Thursday, to feature a plant I grow, so pop over and pay her a visit too!

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Thursday’s Feature: Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis


This tropical plant fascinates me, and after some success a few years ago growing it from seed, I decided to try again this year.

From a packet of nine seeds, eight germinated, one seedling then died, two were planted up in large pots,two are growing in the rockery, and three (also planted in the rockery) were eaten by snails.

The foliage is a beautiful reddish brown when young…


As they mature the leaves turn greener, but still with a predominantly red tinge…


The most fascinating part of it however is the flower and then the seeds…

The flowers are tiny and the seedheads are about the size of a raspberry. But they are not edible. In fact they are very toxic. This plant is also called Castor Bean Plant,  as castor oil is extracted from the seed.

The tree actually originates from North Africa, the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, although it is now found in all tropical regions and here it is grown as a summer annual.

In my garden it gets to about 1.5 metres at most, and stands so tall and straight even if in a windy position – quite wonderful. Which is where it gets its German name from I suppose: Wunderbaum (‘Miracle Tree’)!


You can see I have taken precautions against snails, which despite its toxicity are rather fond of this plant. The copper tape around the pot and stem works to some extent, but doesn’t deter them completely. It is supposed to give the creatures a little electric shock as they touch it, but I think my snails are too big to notice it! Some of the lower leaves had to be removed as they were in shreds!

A few more pictures of this weird and wonderful tropical wonder…

Have you ever grown Ricinus? Or any other tropical delight? I am joining Kimberley again today at Cosmos and Cleome, as she asks us to feature something from our gardens each Thursday. Do visit her to see her feature this week, as well as others linking in with interesting plants from near and far!

Thursday’s Feature: Succisella inflexa

Scabious and Knautia are two members of the Teasel family that have found a home in my rockery. But today, as I join Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome for her Thursday meme, I am featuring another member of this family – the relatively unknown  Succisella inflexa (Moorabbiss), almost the same as Succisa inflexa.


It starts flowering in July or August and will continue until the first frost. Like Scabious, the bees and butterflies love it…

Succisella and ButterflySummer Map Butterfly (Araschnia levana)

The buds are slightly pink, the flowers icy white, with just a tinge of violet to them.


Succisa plants are supposedly happiest on damp ground or wet meadows… well, this year they have certainly had more rain than usual, but I have had several beautiful, healthy plants thriving on dry, well-drained soil in the full sun in drought years too! However, I should point out that mine is a cultivated specimen: Succisella inflexa “Frosted Pearls”, which differs from the wild ones in that it is a little shorter (about 2ft high), and has longer leaves.


I love this plant for its dainty petals and delicate colour.

It is not invasive in my garden, but is easy to remove if it seeds itself where not wanted. It is very hardy, tolerates heat and drought as well as poor soil, and needs no special care – perfect for the middle of the inaccessible parts of the rockery. (The slugs and snails also pay it no attention).



Do visit Kimberley to see what she has featured this week, and why not join in too!

(P.S. Most of these pictures are from a post I did a few years ago, which you can read here. And I also featured this plant here. )

Thursday’s Feature: Lythrum salicaria

This Thursday I am joining Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome again in featuring a plant growing in my garden. Until choosing this plant for my feature today, I was unaware of its common name Purple Loosestrife, as I only knew the botanical name Lythrum salicaria and the German name ‘Blutweiderich’. I had heard of Purple Loosestrife, but never put two and two together!


Lythrum loves damp ground, so this year it has done much better than usual. It is one of the few plants that I water if it is dry. It grows down near our river, where it gets taller than mine – this one is just 50cm tall but in the wild with the right conditions I have seen it about 80cm tall too.

It is a fantastic plant for pollinators of all kinds, especially bees and hoverflies…


Lythrum appears late, with the first leaves visible only after the last tulips have flowered.  It is therefore useful for areas where spring bulbs leave a gap. And in autumn the foliage turns orangey red, prolonging the interest. But the flowers are what I grow it for in this area reserved predominantly for herbs. And it has had many herbal uses in the past; as a diuretic, for stopping bleeding, for stomach disorders and even for skin problems.


The Nigella seedheads are a happy coincidence, reflecting the pinky red of the flowers and buds. The yellow in the background is St John’s Wort.


Do you grow this flower, or have you seen it growing nearby?

Thanks to our host once more – do go and visit Kimberley to see what she is featuring this week.


Thursday’s Feature: Calamagrostis

Today I am joining Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome for her Thursday’s Feature, where we look at a plant close up each week.

I LOVE this grass!


I only discovered it last summer, and immediately planted more. It is forming lovely big clumps and I would love to add even more later this year. Is that too monotonous, using one grass as a feature? It has pinky brown flowers that wave around in the slightest breeze, (it was very breezy when trying to get a photo!), creating the effect of a cool wind even when it is hot and muggy. I think it is the movement that I love most. Or is it the shape. Or the colour or the height. (About 1.2 metres). Or the fact that the slightest change in the light makes it change colour, like here…


I love the name too, despite having no idea how to pronounce it correctly. Calama as in calamity? … According to Wikipedia ‘The word “calamagrostis” is derived from the Greek word kalamos (reed) and agrostis (a kind of grass).’

It clearly loves the conditions offered this year: warm, damp and yet in a well-drained south-facing rockery with poor stony alkaline soil. We will see how it performs next year, if we don’t get as much rain in spring and early summer.

(Click on any image to enlarge)


I ordered both Calamagrostis varia and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, but they both look the same to me now. Or maybe I was sent the wrong one, which would not be the first time… So any help with ID would be appreciated. Have you ever grown this beautiful grass?


Thank you for visiting!


Thursday’s Feature: Evening Primrose

This Thursday I am featuring a plant I often overlook. However, this year it has seeded itself in a rather prominent position at the front of a flower bed and is demanding attention!

Oenothera odorata ‘Sulphurea’


This perennial does not die down completely in winter but it still needs time and warmth to start producing its long stems, which have buds all the way up them. It starts flowering in June and will continue to flower all summer, even until October if it is mild. It is a very hardy plant – coping with extremes down to -28°C.


The cup-shaped flowers open when it is not too hot, and although it is called Evening Primrose I find it often opens flowers in the morning too. They are short-lived, but just as beautiful as they curl back up. This creamy yellow one turns pinker as it fades. Quite a remarkable colour.


Oenothera are noted for their importance for pollinators such as hummingbird hawk moths, and many of the common ones – Oenothera biennis – grow nearby on undisturbed ground. I have only seen a few bees on mine this year though…


This one is supposed to smell wonderful in the evenings. Unfortunately I haven’t ever detected more than a faint fragrance. It is still an enrichment for any garden though, but it will settle where it is happiest and not necessarily where you originally plant it!

I am linking in to the Thursday’s Feature meme at Cosmos and Cleome. Do visit Kimberley there to see what she has featured this week. And do join in!

Thursday’s Feature: Anthyllis vulneraria

Last week Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome decided to revive an old meme called Thursday’s Feature. She has asked us to join her in focussing on a plant each Thursday and posting about it. So, here is my first contribution. Please join in if you can, and do visit Kimberley too!

So today I am featuring this pretty little plant: Anthyllis vulneraria ssp coccinea.


Hiding under some Evening Primrose foliage

I bought this at a plant sale two years ago, with the hope it would spread like mad in my rockery. Well, this year another small plant has flowered next to it, but it hasn’t seeded around as much as I had hoped. Still, the bright orange-red flowers are quite eye-catching and a small plant does stand out well.


I am really happy with it as it needs no attention at all, and is therefore perfect in a rockery where accessibility is tricky, or as edging to a driveway or lawn; it only reaches a height of around 20cm.

Anthyllis vulneraria ssp coccinea is commonly known as Red Kidney Vetch and flowers prettily from May to June and then intermittently throughout the summer. In the wild the yellow flower (which has orange tinges as it goes over) can be found more frequently and is native to Europe, whereas this red subspecies originates from the hillsides of Latvia or Estonia. It prefers chalky well-drained and poor soil – which means its habitat is shrinking as the use of agricultural fertilisers expands – and it is hardy down to -23°C.


The common name in German is ‘Wundklee’, which translates as ‘wound clover’ and reminds us of its use as a herbal remedy for wounds and ulcers. It can be pressed directly onto the skin making it handy for hikers with a blister! It is also an ingredient in some of the vegan cosmetic articles stocked by my local health food shop! However, it can also be used as a tea for many other ailments including digestive disorders and coughs.

I haven’t got enough of it yet to start making tea, but will be looking out for the native yellow flowers on future walks.

Have you seen this flower before, either yellow or red?