Some plants are easy to come by and others are inexplicably difficult. I’m not talking about the ones that are tricky to propagate or provide a slight challenge to the grower. There are also some that are so popular that they sell out quickly, with a long waiting list for a potential purchaser. The ones I mean are easy to grow, can be readily divided or grown from seed, and are definitely worth a place in the garden. One of these is chelonopsis yagiharana. The Latin name might put people off, but the common name of Japanese turtlehead rolls more easily off the tongue.
So if you come by one of these, what do you get?
Chelonopsis yagiharana grows around a foot high with a slightly larger spread. Although it prefers a sunny position, it seems happy with an open position in bright shade – I am growing it at the front of a north facing border. It likes a moist but well drained soil; in dry conditions it wilts but is readily revived by watering or a passing shower, and is hardy throughout the UK. But its greatest asset is that it flowers now, prolonging the season through September before asters get into their stride. The flowers are tubular, around two inches long, and deep pink (I have seen the colour described as “smoky red” whatever that means).
So why is this gem so difficult to get hold of? Perhaps we should all start asking for it.