I wrote about Stachys Bella Grigio in January. A new release in this country, I had bought one plant to try and it certainly thrived. The trouble was that it was not so much the grey of grigio as a startling, silver white. In our mellow style of gardening, it shrieked for attention and looked completely out of place in the rose garden. When I found my eye drawn to its glaring presence every time I looked at that area, I dug it up. Not being of a profligate nature – and there was nothing wrong with the plant, just my placement of it – I potted it up and kept it in the nursery until I could find it a better home. I also thought it likely that it would be one of those whizzy bang plants that we call an Upanddieonyou. In other words, of short life expectancy and prone to fail.
When a visiting landscaper friend looked at my new patch of Bella Grigio, he asked whether I had bought multiple plants. I laughed. Old habits die hard and we are still economical gardeners. I had just bought the one. But after a mere six months in the pot waiting to be replanted, it had multiplied to the point where I now had seven good-sized clumps. Since planting it out a couple of months ago, it has romped away to the point where by the end of the season, should I want them, I could have seventy plants. Not an Upanddieonyou at all, it turns out.
I think it will be fine visually in the new garden area. As part of our garden developments in the old nursery area, Mark has created a planting of the small-leafed, small-flowered Camellia microphylla, using the geometry of the basket fungus. The hungry and unkempt camellias were moved in this winter just past and need to get well established before he starts shaping and clipping them next winter into what he envisages as an undulating green caterpillar in basket fungus formation. The design has created central, enclosed spaces where he wants plants that will rise above the caterpillar hedges – I have planted the first one in the white rugosa rose, Blanc double de Coubert with an tall echinops. Another will, in due course, be home to the blue veronicastrum, another is to be blue hydrangeas with pale foxgloves and so on. The colour scheme is whites, blues, purple and lilac hues. The outer bays are more numerous and it is in one of these that I have planted the thriving stachys. In a sunny, open spot in what is a more contemporary area of the garden, it no longer looks startlingly out of place. It can stay after all.