Some damage to trees & Shrubs

Damaged tree after snow

At the beginning of February, we had a few days of heavy snow that caused some damage to trees and shrubs in the garden. The large acacia tree, native to Australia in the centre of the garden has delicate branches which were unfortunately damaged during this bad weather and parts of the tree have been removed, but is coming up to flower in Spring. This tree is particularly popular with the greenfinch, a tame bird that often takes pollen or seeds from its branches and at times sings in the tree its delightful long twittering notes & trills.

The snow also covered most of Greece, Turkey and some of the Aegean islands, while in Athens the thickness of the snow reached about 80-85 cm and residents were advised to stay at home. An extreme snowstorm caused road disruption in the Capital leaving people to abandon their cars and walk home or take public transport.

tree in centre crushed by snow
village with heavy snow

A few pelargoniums have also been weakened a little in the harsh weather, Pelargonium vitifolium which is quite a tough plant has drooping leaves, I have given it a good dose of compost and also recycled organic matter (leaves, food scraps etc) to enrich the soil.
Pelargonium quercifolium was protected by the large rosemary bushes in the garden which covers most of this plant, apart from a few long branches so it wasn’t affected that much, also two of the pelargoniums after the snow may have died but it is too early to say for sure, they may hopefully start to produce new leaves again in spring.
Pelargonium hispidum & P . radens were sheltered by a wall & other plants, and so should began to recover in Spring.
The only plant that is in bloom at the moment is the rose, a delicate pink shade that hasn’t stopped most of the year, a stem has been made into an arch over the steps to the garden.
It is now slowly getting warmer with longer days so this should give more light to the plants which they lack during the winter months

DESTINATION-CHATEAU DE CHENONCEAU GARDENS

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The chateau de Chenonceau & gardens, extends across the river Cher, within the Indre et Loire region of France. It is situated close to the Loire valley, having both medieval and Renaissance style buildings and exquisite elegant grounds containing delicate shades of pinks, purples and whites within the lush greenery, lawns, circular boxwood and formal pathways & statues. Roses are grown as standards with beautiful pink flowers that hang downwards and purple lavender growing below in a row of borders. The Chateau was first constructed during the 13th century and was occupied by the Marques family until it was set alight during as an act of revenge. But was again reconstructed with a water mill before it was purchased by Thomas Bower, the senior royal official to King Charles V 111 in 1530 to which he completely built the chateau again from scratch, demolishing most of the original. After Thomas Bower’s death, the chateau was confiscated by the king (Francis 1st) because of money owed to the state. Diane de Poitiers was later given the property by Henry the 2nd during an liaison with him, she loved the chateau so much that she consigned the architect Philibert de L Orme to construct a bridge so that the chateau could have easier access to the other side of the river. She also had magnificent large scale gardens created alongside the river in formal designs with pathways that meet at right angles of 90 degrees & two straight lines joining opposite corners that form triangles containing lawn and aromatic Santolina plants with yellow or white flowers, roses also grow over the elevated terrace that shields the gardens from the overflow of water from the river, other flower borders include Enonymus europaeus spindle hedge plant with bright pink flowers, Viburnum tinus, (Laurustinus)an evergreen hedge plant with leaves very much like a bay tree with white flowers, followed by hibiscus which blooms during the summer months, a fountain is also located in the centre of the garden.
But it wasn’t until after the kings death that his wife Catherine de Medici violently requested that the chateau be returned to her, in exchange for the chateau Chaumont in Chaumot sur Loire. After Catherine gained ownership she resided at the estate regarding it as her most cherished home. She added many costly additional features to the chateau including a grand gallery along the bridge. The overall design of gardens contains a large circular water pool surrounded by five rectangular lawn panels with a line of flower beds and rounded boxwood. Flowering Roses are grown as standards with lavender underneath. & in another part of the garden roses climb over the trellis near to a pathway by the moat. A maze was also created in Italian style using up to 2,000 yew trees, with classical urns planted with ivy and boxwood and a gazebo in the centre made using wicker.
Others who owned the Chateau de Chemonceau at some point in history include Louise de Lorraine (wife of Henry 3rd), Cesar de Bourbon ( son of Henry 4th and François de Lorraine his mistress), Louise Dupin the daughter of Samuel Bernard (financier) and also Marguerite Pelouze during the 1800’s who renovated some parts of the Chateau adding statues of ancient Greek heroes, gods and goddesses.

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It is believed that the countess of Villeneuve had the chateau in her possession in 1825, assigning lord Seymour to create the green garden which is situated to the north of Catherine’s garden, it contains many old trees that surround  the grounds  providing shade and elegance with oak trees, redwood, walnut, chestnut, fir trees, cedar and catalpa trees. By the mid 1900’s Gaston Menier and relatives assigned the architect Bernard Voision to renovate parts of the chateau that was badly damaged during the 2nd world war.
In the flower garden a wide range of flowering and fragrant plants are grown to provide cut flowers for the chateau’s floral workshop for displaying a beautiful array of flowers for the living room, office, kitchen or gallery, the layout is arranged in squares and adjoined with apple trees. There is said to be approximately 400 different types of  roses, 100 flowering plants and various vegetables. There is also events & entertainment such as for private rental, groups and school parties and a restaurant known as the Orangeries that is situated within the green garden.
Reference:https://www.chenonceau.com/en/gardens/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Château_de_Chenonceau

DESTINATION-LONG WOOD CHRISTMAS GARDENS

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The Long wood Christmas gardens, at Kennett square, Pennsylvania in the Brandywine Creek Valley has a spectacular flamboyant display of colourful lights illuminating up to 150 trees during the Christmas period. Music is also played to give an atmosphere of the festive season along with a light show in the evenings lasting for about 30 minutes while in you warm your hands over the fire pit. Long wood gardens is believed to be the best botanical gardens in America to visit during the holidays.
The gardens of Long wood covers an area of 1,077 hectares containing woods, meadows and gardens. The land was first purchased by George Peirce during the 1700’s, a farmer & Quaker, his son Joshua worked on the land, making it suitable for growing crops and also built a farmhouse out of brick which can still be seen within the gardens today.
As time went on Joshua’s grandchildren gained ownership of the farm, who both had a keen interest in tree species and so decided to build an arboretum containing a collection of native and exotic trees, which was open to the public known as Pierce’s park ,the trees were grown in lines at the East of the farm house and during the mid 1800’s it is believed to have contained one of the most outstanding collection of tree species over the whole of the USA. But later fell into decline and so the gardens were again purchased by Pierres Du Pont in 1907 due to the planned destruction of the tree collection.. Pierres from 1915-1919 was the president of the E.I.du Pont de Nemours and company, his grandfather was a french economist who immigrated to America.

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With the new owner, Longwood gardens was developed mainly for the purpose of creating beautiful surroundings to bring satisfaction and joy to his friends when they visited him there and so added many features to the grounds to entertain them and over time creating more and more stunning gardens.
The four acre conservatory is the largest within the gardens and was built from 1919 containing  about 4,600 plant & tree species including beautiful all year round flowering blooms, orchids, decorative foliage and fountains. Many of the plants are highly scented and a delight to walk around the various pathways admiring the breathtaking views and displays, there is also an exhibition hall with a new theme every year at Christmas with decorated trees, ornaments, ribbons and illuminated lights. The conservatory to the east was restored and altered in 2003 which shortly afterwards opened to the public.  Many garden styles over the years were added to the conservatory gardens including a Mediterranean garden created by Ron Lutsko jr, a children’s garden, indoor green wall by Kim Wilkie consisting of 47,000 plants, banana house, fern passage, acacia passage, camellia house, bonsai display, cascade garden, orangery, palm house, orchid house, the new silver garden by Isabelle Greene with an dry desert like setting, desert house and the estate fruit house.

In the outdoor long wood gardens Pierre s. Du Pont added a flower garden walk which is approximately 600 foot long with brick pathways and an abundance of colourful species for all seasons blues, pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, whites and greys featuring tulips, daffodils, allium, foxglove, fritillaria, blue bells, saliva, chrysanthemums, asters and more, in the centre is a round fountain with spurts of water.
An Italian style garden was created from 1925-27 which was inspired by Italian and french  design, situated by the side of a lake to the North East of the estate and contains many spectacular classical water features such as fountains and pools in square and circular shapes along side freshly cut grass, with added features from 1928 and 1921.

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A woodland garden was also created on the grounds by planting up to a thousand native Eastern deciduous trees such as oaks, maples, ash and tulip trees known as Peirce’s woods. The taller trees would ascend over the lower shrubs and ground cover along with 10,000 plants which were rescued  from North Carolina before the construction of a new highway. Colourful blooms in spring and Autumn include Virginia bluebells, foam flowers, phlox & trillium (birthroots)  species.
The Meadow garden was formed in 2014 filled with  86 acres of  herbaceous perennials, native wildflowers and also additional  plants to handle invasive species with scenic views of the countryside, designed by Jonathan Alderson and Jonathan Alderson landscape architects of Wayne, PA. The main concept of the garden is to point out to the viewer the connection between nature and the way we live as human beings. There is a farm house that has recently been restored and features two galleries containing artwork, photography and history of architects who have previously  worked on the gardens.

DESTINATION-THE GARDENS OF NINFA

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The gardens of Ninfa, in the province of Latina, is said to be the most beautiful and romantic gardens in Italy and possibly the world. The gardens contains ancient ruins from the classical times of ancient Rome, known as Ninfa which gives its name to the area. It is also connected to nymphs which according to myth lived within this expanse of land in nearby springs, rivers, trees, mountains and valleys, there was also a temple built here that was sacred to the nymphs.
In modern times medieval ruins from the 11-12th century are still visible throughout the gardens containing a castle, church of Santa Maria Maggiore, cottages, mills, a town hall and towers. With a multitude of lovely flowers, plants & trees that grow amongst the old ruins with breathtaking scenery, and moss covering many of the ancient buildings & archways followed by roses, arum lilies, jasmine as well as tropical and native species.
The gardens of Ninfa covers an area of 150 hectares and is a natural monument of Italy with approximately 152 bird species which was constructed from 1921 by Gelasio Caetani, (one of five sons of Onorato Caetani the 14th duke of Sermoneta) and with the help of his mother Ada Bootle- Wilbrahaan a lady from England who introduced English roses to the grounds, as well as his brother Roffredo.

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Gelasio on his travels also brought many different plant species with him and planted them in the gardens including a large variety of roses, (climbing, musk roses, bushes & hybrids), numerous trees such as cedar, birch, Japanese maples, walnut, apple & smoke tree (coggygria) as well as flowering plants such as catalpa, magnolia, and yucca.
The garden consists of small springs and also a river known as the river Ninfa to the south with water iris and along the bank clusters of hazelnut, silver maple and American tulip trees.
A borgo or medieval moat & draw bridge has many water birds such as ducks & swans and masses of Arum lilies that surround the moat, with the ruins of the castle from the 12th century and magnolia stellata trailing around it at the entrance and a courtyard with trees and grapefruit.
The main pathway has lavender plants and a wide range of trees that include cypress trees, cherry trees, Mexican pine, banana and Himalayan pine which adds colour & beauty to the surroundings with the wide range of oranges purples & reds combined with the green shades of the lawn.
There is also a cluster of bamboo in one area of the gardens and a rock garden with flowering plants consisting of California poppies, veronica, a climbing clematis armandii and hydrangea, bright yellow flowers of Aurinia saxatillis, granny’s bonnet (aguilegia) among others.

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Mediterranean garden

The very essence of Mediterranean garden style not only creates spectacular surroundings with its classical warm colours of pale beige, deep browns, bright yellows, reds, terra cotta, yellowy pinks and bluely greens included within the combination of trees, shrubs, succulents and cacti which can portray any garden style using plants such as the olive tree, pomegranate , lavender, bay tree, rosemary, eucalyptus, citrus and yucca which can be used as herbs in cooking, to inhale the heavenly aromas or to provide shade from the hot sun during the summer.
The Mediterranean can cover several areas of the globe which include Australia, California, coastal areas of Chile, countries that border the Mediterranean sea, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Western Cape of South Africa which have dry high temperatures in summer followed by mild winters usually with strong winds and heavy rain, but in some areas frost can also occur. Other countries which have cooler conditions, can easily imitate this environment using a greenhouse.
One of the most important part of the Mediterranean garden is to create shade from the extreme heat of the sun outdoors during the Summer months, whether for relaxing, dinning or to protect your plants. This can be in the form of a courtyard with tall palms or trees, a patio with a pergola shaded by vines or climbing plants or a structure attached to the house with terra cotta tiles or other material, Shade roll up blinds can also be added at the sides to protect from the wind and sun.
Trees and shrubs can also provide shade but may take a few years to reach a suitable height, also adding colour and fragrance to your garden, these include Hakea also know as pin-cushion, Hakea is a beautiful shrub or five metre tree with exotic flowers pinkish red in the centre with spikes which turn to an orange pink tone over time which attracts honey bees, and with long thin blue green grey leaves. It is native to Western Australia where it is known for its stunning appearance and there are approximately 150 species and also a few hybrids. Robinia pseudoacacia also called the black locust is a hardwood tree that can grow to 12-30 metres in height with highly fragrant graceful clusters of cream white flowers with a splash of yellow in the centre, it produces a high amount of pollen which attracts wildlife and is native to United States but has also adapted and grown naturally in North America, Europe and Southern Africa. Carpenteria californica is a shrub or bush like tree with lovely anemone like flowers which have a sweet fragrance, white in colour with soft yellow in the centre, it is considered rare and is only native to limited areas of California and is a species of the hydrangegeaceae family.

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Boronia heteropylla is an upright shrub native to Western Australia and has striking brightly coloured magenta pink bell shaped flowers each containing four petals and mid green trifolate needle like leaves. This shrub is also called red boronia and can grow to about one to three metres in height ,both the leaves and flowers are fragrant, an excellent plant for adding colour to your surroundings. Genista aetnensis is a charming bright yellow flowering tree or shrub that is native to Sicily and Sardinia, the flowers resemble a pea in shape and are fragrant similar to a jasmine scent. It can be grown as a shrub but over time can grow into a tree up to 8 metres in height.
Syringa pubesceans – an attractive shrub with stunning fragrant tubular lilac flowers and ovate leaves, it attracts bees and butterflies and can also be used for hedging or borders.
Callistermon has striking bottle brush like flowers in various colours, although the most usual is bright red, with long thin leaves. This shrub is native to Australia and Tasmania, the plants name Callistermon is derived from Greek meaning ‘ beautiful stamens’.
Anisodontea also called the rough leaf African mallow is a woody shrub with light to bright pink showy flowers which resemble a hibiscus and grows to about two to three metres, the three lobed leaves are scented and is native to South Africa, this species is of the Malvaceae (mallow) family.
Freylinia lanceolata has attractive and colourful orangey yellow long bell like flowers which are fragrant and smells similar to that of honey, it blooms all year while attracting bees, insects and birds.
Hebe is a bushy shrub native to New Zealand, some types have decorative leaves in various colours of greens and white which has clusters of reddish purple flowers. The name of this plant ‘Hebe” is also a name of the goddess of Youth from Greek myth, who could restore mortal beings back to their youth to which this plant is named after her.

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Climbers and vines are also excellent way for creating shade which can be grown in a container or in the soil to cover a pergola, archway, wall or fencing. The most usual vine in the Mediterranean is most certainly the grape vine Vitis and there are many varieties to choose from so you can enjoy the delicious fresh grapes in Autumn, make wine or raisins/sultanas. Passiflora is a lovely vine with tendrils and flowers with up to 9 petals and long thin wavy corona filaments, there are many varieties which range in colour from pale – dark purple, blue and pink-red which attracts honey bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and humming birds. The passion fruit of Passiflora edulis can also be eaten and added to yogurt and with other fruit. Clematis cirrhosa has beautiful elegant bell shaped flowers, creamy white in colour with pale green in the centre, sometimes with dark splotches.
Thunbergia gregorii has showy and very bright orange flowers also called the trumpet vine, it is an evergreen vine native to Africa which is similar to the black eyed Susan vine. Ipomoea purpurea also know as the morning glory has striking bright purple trumpet shaped flowers in Summer with large heart shaped leaves. Solandra maxima is a lovely woody vine with large white, yellow to toffee coloured cup shaped flowers with dark lines which are scented at night. It is native to Mexico and central America but some parts of this plant is poisonous. The strong sweetly scented white flowers of Jasmine officinale or common jasmine is another amazing vine for providing shade, it is a delicate plant which can grow to four to nine metres in full sun.
Palms,Succulents and cacti plants with sculptural, geometric shapes and colourful flowers are great in dry arid conditions, such as Kalanchchole luciae, paddle plant that has impressive rounded leaves with bright colours, yellowy green outlined with red which form a rosette and is popular in California. The flowers are also scented and deep yellow in colour which bloom in spring from its second year of growth on long flower stalks. Cereus a cactus with unusual sculptural shapes, Phoenix canariensis a date palm from the Canary islands, its trunk grows up to 30 ft. Chamaerops also called Mediterranean dwarf palm, a hardy plant that can withstand short cold periods. Cycas revoluta a slow growing palm native to Japan and Washingtonia robusta a tall palm tree also known as the Mexican fan palm.

Creating a Wildlife Garden

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A wildlife garden can bring beauty and tranquillity to your surrounds with butterflies, birds, bees, and other wildlife.

Bringing wildlife to your garden has many benefits, we have a better connection with nature where we can learn to co-exist with the natural environment and encourage insects such as butterflies, dragonflies, bees, birds, reptiles and amphibians to your surroundings while creating a peaceful and relaxing retreat.
Making a wildlife garden supports the local flora and fauna while providing them with a nature inspired habitat such as a sanctuary for solitary bees, ladybirds, & beetles made out of bamboo canes, old logs, bricks, twigs and straw or a wildflower meadow, a rock garden, a pond, bog garden or a water feature to encourage frogs, birds and dragonflies.
Flowers & nectar rich plants not only look attractive in the garden but can also appeal to insect pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths which collect pollen and for birds which eat seeds and berries.

A bird house, bird table, hanging feeders or a bird bath can also help encourage birds to your surroundings especially if they are close to the house where you can view them from your window.

Trees, shrubs, hedging and wall climbers are also great for providing a hiding place or an nesting area for birds and also lizards.
Earthworms are great for aerating and improving the quality of the soil and can also provide food for various wildlife.
Leaving in weeds such as dandelions, daisies, thistles, poppies, bell flowers, doves-foot, bind-weed and wild carrot not only encourages bees, butterflies and other insects but can look amazing in a wild flower meadow with long grasses in a small area of your garden or mixed with plants within a raised border, Ants are also good for gathering and dispersing seeds.

Adding a variety of different shaped flowers to your garden can encourage several types of insects.
Flower shapes include tubular, bell, funnel, saucer, rosette and funnel shapes which come in many colours and sizes.
Some bees, wasps, moths and butterflies have long tongues known as proboscis which feed on pollen and nectar and can reach far into the flower, Some flower types are also only pollinated by hummingbirds.

Other ideas to encourage wildlife include: Creating a home for solitary bees, creating a wild flower meadow, bog garden, water feature or a pond, attracting more butterflies and creating a haven for birds.

Mixed borders

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Mixed borders-advice for maintaining or planning your border

Mixed borders have gained popularity in the coming years, moving away from the more traditional herbaceous borders which were grown tightly together in large rectangular beds based on their colour and height with tiny flowers at the front, medium in the centre and taller 6 ft plants at the back.

Mixed borders are easier to keep and are usually mixed together with annuals, perennials, biennials, shrubs and low growing trees of similar heights but the density of the plants are chosen more carefully, more airy plants like delicate ornamental grasses and flowers on long stalks can look striking mixed with more dense plants in the flower bed and also with deciduous trees, flowering shrubs, rosebushes,lilies and hedges.

Airy plants include: Cimicifuga (feathery spikes of white flowers), Delphinium (long flower spikes of various colours), Eremurus( foxtail lily ), Echinops (globe thistle), Kniphofia (colourful flower spikes), Lobelia, Allium, Armeria, Aquilegia. Camassia, Fritillaria, bottle bush types such as pennisetum& pennisetum(fountain grass).

Dense shrubs include : Button bush, Butterfly bush, Rose of sharon, Azalea, lilac, Quince, Dentzia, Forsythia, Weigela, Cinquefoil, Shrub rose, Potentilla, Rhododendron, Viburnum, Lavender, Sage, Mallow, Phlox, Geraniums, Campanula, Hemerocallis(day lily) and tall upright pelargoniums such as P. Vitifolium & P. Denticulatum.
They can also be mixed with simplistic and architectural shaped foliage to make your border more interesting, brightly coloured or Zoned leaves can also look effective.

When planning or improving your border think about the colours, height, density, growth size and season of flowering thought the year.
The style of the border is also important so that that it blends well with the rest of the garden, such as a wild natural border, a border with similar colours such as gold-yellows, purple- blue, dark-pale pinks. A natural woodland garden with ferns, hollyhocks and bluebells, rock border with succulent type species or a border mixed with roses.
They can also be based on a certain theme as as modern, contemporary, traditional, romantic, sculptural,or based on a theme such as a rustic, Japanese, Zen, European, Mediterranean or Asian gardens.
The edging of the border can vary, the traditional brick & stone edging is the most popular because it last longer than other edging types and is usually cemented to keep them in place, although some types do tend to be more expensive and can also be part of a patio design, They can also be positioned in different ways, they can be laid diagonally, as stone edging such a flagstone and cobble stone, a natural stone wall, or you may prefer a border with hedges, wooden edging, logs or sleepers.
Wooden edging can look effective in the garden but doesn’t usually last so long as it tends to rot, but this can depend on what style you wish to achieve. Or for a more simple approach you can use cinder blocks as edging which can be cemented and painted or small metal border fence edging ,wattle fencing if you like an more rustic look.
Mixing in an organic matter such as from a compost bin into the soil of the border can help improve its quality , this can be done once a year in Spring or Autumn which can also help with drainage in the soil. You may also think about lifting plants out gently, removing any dead leaves & stems and dividing plants to stop them growing too close together every four to five years.

Ideal plants for border perennials 

Perennials are typically Spring and Summer flowering plants which die back in Autumn and Winter & then re growth occurs again in Spring, although this is not always the case. Some types still thrive throughout the Winter and can live for many years but this can also depend on temperature and location.
Perennial types include evergreen, deciduous, monocarpic, woody or herbaceous.

Evergreens are great for adding colour to the garden during the winter months such as the blue flowered Brunnera, Helleborus in various colours, Nepeta with blue grey aromatic foliage and the Stachys pink flowers on long stems.
Deciduous-When you read the word deciduous you immediately think of trees dropping their leaves in Autumn but in fact there are a few plants & shrubs which also shed their petals & fruit. Deciduous perennials include the bright yellow flowered Goldrod, the highly fragrant honeysuckle, white flowered viburnum, Grapes, wisteria & poison ivy.

Monocarpic are perennials which are short lived, they grow only to flower, produce seed and then die, these include the Acanthacease group of flowering plants, Apocynaceae, Asteraceae, Agavaceae, Araceae and Fabaceae.

Woody perennials have woody stems and roots that continue to grow after each season, these can be trees, shrubs or wood climbing plants know as lianas.
Woody perennials include rosemary, mulberry, blackberry, honeysuckle, and apple.

Herbaceous perennials have fresh green stems which are not woody and is usually a herb that is used in food or for medicinal properties, these include grasses, ferns, vines, trees, shrubs and some bamboo types.
Such as Peonies, Salvia, Poppies, Aquilegia(columbine), bananas, cone flower (echinacea), daffodils are examples of Herbaceous perennials.
Other perennials ideal for borders include: Acanthus Achillea-yarrow, Agapanthus-African lily, Anemone, Catananche-cupids dart, Cimicifuga-long flowering spikes,Eremurus-foxtail lily, Centaurea-cornflower, Chrysanthemum-daisy, Delphinium, Echinops-globe thistle, Evigeron, Lupin,Linum,Physostegia,

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