Time for another in the series of posts looking at what is currently flowering in my garden, though I actually took the photos on August 5th and have only just got round to writing about them. The first two are of the spectacular hydrangea outside my front door. I have been in this house for nearly twenty years and I planted it fairly early on so I guess it is at least fifteen years old. It is getting rather large for the situation but I have been reluctant to prune it back hard for fear of missing a year of blooms.
This particular hydrangea has a lacecap as opposed to mophead flower arrangement, which means there is a core of small fertile flowers surrounded by a ring of large, sterile bract-like flowers. I know you want a closer look so here you go (by the way, if you click on any of the photos you should see a larger version with way more detail).
Moving now to the back garden the next photo is of my one and only Clematis. It has been growing for years but the stem is still very thin and has split lengthways near the ground so I am never very confident that it will produce any growth but it always ends up putting out at least one shoot and then suddenly it is in flower. Clematis is a genus of about 300 species within the buttercup family. The entire genus contains essential oils and compounds which are extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes, although apparently Native Americans used small amounts as a treatment for migraine headaches. I don’t know which species this is but I love the deep purple colour.
I have a wildlife pond near the back of the garden which is home to newts, pond skaters, and presumably a host of other small invertebrates. There is also a marshy margin where numerous plants thrive. In the next photo you can just see a bit of duckweed (Leminoideae) floating on the surface of the pond at the lower right. Duckweed spreads rapidly and I have to keep clearing it to maintain any open water. Incidentally, last weekend I fell into a friend’s pond at night, which was a bit of a shock! Various circumstances contributed to my soaking but the fact that it was covered in duckweed certainly didn’t help. There are at least eight other plants in the photo including Juncus conglomeratus or compact rush, Iris pseudacorus or Yellow Flag (no longer in flower) and something which is either Mentha aquatica (water mint) or peppermint (a cross between water mint and spearmint). The bright orange flowers belong to a plant in the genus Crocosmia, also known as montbretia.
But what about the pink feathery fronds? They belong to what is possibly my favourite flowering plant in the whole garden. I didn’t know what it was called and was unable to find it by googling for a description so I was planning to offer a reward for the first comment which correctly identified it. However, my mother was round yesterday and although she couldn’t think of the name at the time she phoned me today to tell me that it is an Astilbe. Apparently some species are commonly known as false goats beard. They are widely adapted to water-logged conditions and tolerate clay soils well. Here is a close-up.