My garden has been open under The National Garden Scheme for several years, raising money for charities. We have opened early in the season a couple of times, but never had a late opening. This year we decided to rectify that and picked a date in mid August – we could have picked a better year for it! With the hottest summer for more than forty years, and nine weeks without rain, it was certainly a challenge. Fortunately August cooled down a bit and the day was a great success.
I had wanted to replant the main border in my back garden for a couple of years now, and this year’s Open Garden was just the kick I needed to do it. If it was to peak for August, I needed to have lots of late summer flowers – heleniums and crocosmia fitted the bill. While browsing nursery websites, I also came across a late bloomer with pinnate foliage and promptly added it to the list of things to plant. It was senna hebecarpa.
Growing to around five feet in a moist, rich soil, it tolerates sun or partial shade, ideal for my east-facing border. Although still in bud on the day we opened, it finally bloomed a week later, but I reckon that foliage earns it a place in the garden, even without the flowers. A native of North America, it is totally hardy (it grows as far north as the Great Lakes), and although the flowering period is relatively short, I would put it high on a list of plants for foliage interest.