Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune...
And the tune she's playing is… fluffy!
Just like baby bunnies, mohair jumpers, and marshmallows, the flowers in the Market are tooting a frondy, feathery, fluffy fanfare.
Take this fountainous panicum at Bloomfield, softening the snapdragon's lines;
Waitson's woolly verbascum, snuggling beside its starry agapanthus neighbour;
and velvety lambs' ears, or stachys, tempting you to fondle.
Lime-green buplerum bubbles out of buckets; bouffant alliums beckon from every corner;
astilbe bursts exuberantly between more sober flowers.
Ammi evokes billowy English hedgerows.
Cushions of blowsy hydrangea entice the eye;
while cotinus froths against shiny photinus.
Even traditionally spiky flowers have succumbed to the warm fuzzy blanket that is July. The left-hand of these three eryngiums (Alagar) is a miniature-flowered Israeli variety, "Blue Dream".
You can see the difference in size, and [paradoxically] its fresh green, not blue, colour.
If you think "Blue Dream" a weird name, Eric on John Austin's tipped me off to a gorgeous new lily (that whizzed off the stand, so no photo.) "It's deep pink, not as dark as "Mambo", but a lovely oriental. Now... What’s it called...? Ah yes, "Table Dance". Classy. Do you have to tuck the cash into the front of the lily sleeve when you pay, I wonder?
There’s plenty of interesting specialty flowers this month, if you’re eagle-eyed. And quick, 'cause they're not big quantities; and I spotted celeb designers Simon Lycett, and the Bloomsbury Boys, eagerly loading up their vans.
Pristine white-edged hosta, not the slug-raddled garden sort.
Purple-leaf penstemon, with white-lavender flowers (Alagar);
flowering rush, very peculiar (Zest);
and campanula "Champion Lavender" (SR Allen), which can only be described as that mythical shade, sky-blue-pink.
Rose of the month (Bloomfield), is "Free Spirit".
A knockout orange-pink-gold, like premium sunsets; big ol' supersize flowerhead; and curly edges to the petals. Plus a name you wouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for.
Not your next big wedding rose, probably – that honour goes to lilac-pink "Faith", which two trendy florists in colour-matching shirts eagerly snaffled at Alagar – but a great power colour for impulse and gift bunches. (Ritchie at Alagar joked of the Faith rose, "you gotta have it". One for the grandads there, and anyone else who remembers the '80s.)
My ever-cheery chappie at Evergreen is despairing of the terrible weather we've had lately. It's playing havoc with his flowering schedules.
They’ve got colour to perk up a patio, regardless – geraniums, butterfly pelargoniums,
busy lizzy, cosmos (fluffy!) and foliage shrubs.
Mills has abundant windowbox favourites; Arnott's miniature dahlias with dark bronze leaves are seductive; while Quality makes it easy with ready-planted baskets – including willow-style ones.
Final fluffy feature, Norfolk pine, something different to your usual euc and salal .
Anything we've missed? Ah yes. Tall stuff.
Delphs everywhere, of course;
the first of the eremurus (seen here with juicy-fresh kniphofia);
chest-high agapanthus; jumbo Italian gladioli due in soon, molto bella; and atriplex and foxgloves at GB Foliage, (home of tree-sized purple cherry branches, and half a birch forest, seemingly.)
GB also has English Portuguese laurel, with feathery flowerspikes;
Porters prefers purple rhododendron (while the weather stays cool).
Don't forget – it's last chance for peonies!
Are you a traditionalist, favouring the herbalists' maroon; a romantic, embracing shades of pink; or a purist, demanding only chaste wholesome white?
I'm a novelty-seeker, so I love Alagar's duckling-yellow "Bartzella" with its werthers-toffee centre; SR Allen's "Hawaiian Coral", pale and peachily gorgeous; and Bloomfield’s "Golden Treasure", the colour of runny honey. Swoon.