Side bed progress in July

Checking in on the side bed almost exactly a month after the following photo was taken, a progress report may initially appear to consist of entirely bad news.

Side bed with dotted loosestrife, St Johns wort and nigella added

The bright yellow loosestrife, which made such an impact when added, have since finished flowering and look very secondhand. The campanula's purple flowers have also given up the ghost, leaving an unattractive mat of weedy tangles. The white flowers of the sweet violet have all been ripped out (for reasons I will come to).

The Mexican fleabane seeded in the cracks in the wall amounted to absolutely nothing. Not a single sprouting. And the St John's wort is not exactly thriving either. Some of the leaves in that June shot have since withered and browned, and it's mustered no new growth that I can notice. My parents tell me that its 'parent' shrub "thrives on neglect", and they expected it to enthusiastically fill out that corner, but so far my bit of it seems to be if not exactly dying, then barely standing still.

The acanthus was transferred into this bed from the back one, after the above photo was taken, in the hope of reviving it, but this only hastened its decline. The leaves were eaten to almost nothing by slugs, snails and/or vine weevils, and frankly by then I'd come to wonder why I'd chosen it in the first place, even in aesthetic terms, let alone survival terms -- so I gave up on it and took it out altogether.

However, things are not so bad as this audit suggests. The loosestrife and campanula's decline is just normal seasonality, no cause for concern, and the fleabane seeding was only ever speculatively hopeful. As for the St John's wort, I'll just have to hope it is taking a while to settle, but will pick up steam eventually.

And meanwhile, I have replacements and additions on the flower front.

The hydrangea is in full flow.

Hydrangea in bloom

Pleasant surprise #1: a single stem of this ruffled white chap snuck in with the loosestrife - I don't know what it is, but I'm told it multiplies enthusiastically. I hope so, because it's nice, but looks faintly silly all on its little lonesome.

Unknown white flower

Next to that, a week or so later, pleasant surprise #2. I don't remember this phlox being part of the parental carbootful of pots, or planting it, but I suppose it must have been and I must have done, because here it was, starting to bloom:


And a few days later, a full 'head' of flowers:

Phlox in bloom

In trying to describe it over email to my parents to get an ID, I observed that it had a very zingy quality of pinkness which was impossible to photograph, almost flourescent, like a highlighter pen. So I was a teeny bit smug when I eventually figured out it was a phlox, and read that this name "derived from the Greek word phlox meaning flame in reference to the intense flower colors of some varieties".

Nice as it is, I could hardly leave it holding the sidebed's summer flowering fort all by itself, which brings us to the most exciting news of all: the installation of a Peruvian lilly.

Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer' in situ

It was this that prompted the clear out of (probably) sweet violet, at least all the visibly white-flowering bits. Unfortunate in the immediate term, but I'm fairly sure there is still a mix of sweet violet and campanula in the tangle of leaves along the base of the wall, and the sweet violet is almost aggressive in spreading, so I'm very confident the carpet of white flowers will grow back by next year, if not before.

Phlox and Alstroemeria

These flowers are amazing. Definitely the showiest thing I've planted yet, and I suspect the showiest I ever will (here).

Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer' Alstroemeria

I'm slightly concerned it won't get enough sun in my garden, which is overlooked by houses and trees in all directions, and as such, I don't think there is a single spot in any flowerbed that is true "full sun". This location gets sun from sort of breakfast time til lunchtime. Will that be enough? I'm fairly hopeful it will be enough for the plant to live, but I wonder if this is the first and only year I'll see flowers like this, and in subsequent seasons the blooms will be much reduced.

Still, it's got to survive a winter first before that's even a debate, so perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the meantime, the nigella are in the process of flowering:

Nigella almost in bloom Nigella damascena

And finally, an overall view of the sidebed to compare to the earlier shots.

Sidebed Sidebed

Looks pretty weedy and overgrown, I know, but in three dimensions it's not quite as bad as it looks. I have cleaned out some 'weeds' from around the 'proper' plantings to give them space, but I've also left a lot in, where a front / lower tier of planting will ultimately happen, assuming I stay here long enough. Most likely I won't get into that until next year, as establishing a basic 'skeleton' of key plants for all the beds seems like the bigger priority. And I'll need that lower level / infill to keep me provided with places to plant things, once that skeleton is settled! So for now I'm happy to roll with the willowherb, sweet violet, herb bennet etc as "underplanting" here for the time being -- it may look a mess in photos, but that's better than bare soil for the sake of tidyness in my view.

Update (July 25th): A couple of days later, I have a flower on my St John's wort! On the unhealthier-looking bit of the two, no less. It lives!

My St John's wort has a flower!

Update 2 (July 29th): have some more photos.

Alstroemeria flowers close-up Nigella Phlox and Alstroemeria Phlox and Alstroemeria Alstroemeria in the side bed