End of Month View: Still Busting Out

It came as a bit of a surprise seeing End of Month View posts appearing, as the month has flown past and the thought that it is July tomorrow is quite mind boggling. Admittedly I have been quite preoccupied with non-blogging things this month, but my rambles have still been frequent and my delight in the garden undiminished. I have even managed the occasional bit of maintenance – although a systematic and focussed programme of weeding is what is really required!

Anyhow, accepting that it is really the end of June, I am joining in with Helen the Patient Gardener‘s EOMV meme to show what my garden is doing at the end of this currently very hot month. I waited till later in the day to take photographs because of the bright sunshine and strong shadows so, firstly, the paved area:

IMG_5287Looking to the left from the same point, Rambling Rector is awash with blooms, smelling divine and attracting huge numbers of bees:

IMG_5288Having shown a closer look at the paved area recently, I will gradually work through the other areas featured to give a more detailed picture of them. Next time it will probably be the streamside area and shrub border, shown here:

IMG_5289The woodland is a cool haven once all the trees are fully clothed:

IMG_5290A view over the herbaceous borders from the bothy chimney, with the sun still beating strongly down from the west, just after 6.00pm, casting shadows from a neighbour’s house:

IMG_5291Looking over the same beds but towards the west and trying to avoid getting the sun in the lens of the camera:

IMG_5292The clematis colonnade, with Princess Diana now evident on the first post on the left:

IMG_5294The woodland edge from the same point:

IMG_5295And looking back from the other end:

IMG_5296Continuing on the ramble, the bold border extension, right hand bold border and left hand bold border:

IMG_5297IMG_5298IMG_5299Bypassing the greenhouse, cutting beds and fruit cage to the blue & white border:

IMG_5300IMG_5301The rose garden, a little past its peak but still bountiful – and with a good deadheading a few days ago will hopefully continue to flourish for many more weeks:

IMG_5302Back towards the house the species snowdrop border is still clothed in green and white, with its alternative summer contents:

IMG_5303So that’s it for June, an end of the month overview of the main parts of the garden – an exercise I find useful as I can compare from year to year across the seasons. Don’t forget there is a map under ‘The Garden’ tab above, to show how all the areas fit together. Thanks to Helen for hosting – do pop over to her blog to see her own monthly views and find links to many others.

Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | 1 Comment

In a Vase on Monday: Call the Fire Brigade!

IMG_5272Despite not as much red as I had anticipated, today’s vase still has a fiery edge to it although maybe still not enough to necessitate calling the fire brigade. Although still containing yellows, it is far removed from last week’s softer colours so hopefully won’t be considered repetitive.

The main focus is inevitably the sunflower, my first this year – ‘Ruby Eclipse’, grown from seed collected last year – or at least that’s what it was meant to be but it looks rather larger and chunkier than I recall and has only a hint of red halo. This was the terminal flower IMG_5277though and there are several minor buds so perhaps they will be more elegant when their turn comes. Joining the sunflower are a range of other blooms: Hemerocallis ‘Cathy’s Sunset’, Inula magnifica, Sweet William ‘Black Prince’, Eschscholzia ‘Red Chief’, still in bud (more of these would have been brilliant as they are indeed a very yummy and fiery red), Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’, Penstemon ‘Raven’ (finally I have a reasonable crop of penstemon flowers after many years of failures) and a few spires from Heuchera ‘Neptune’.

The lovely red mottled glass charity vase I bought in Shropshire last year would have been brilliant if only it hadn’t been too small to house all these beauties, particularly as the stem of the sunflower was more than ½” thick. Improvisation was required, and taking inspiration from some stripey cylindrical vases Christina showed us many months ago I unearthed one of the empty tin cans I had kept for just such a purpose and covered it with a trip of red felt fabric before cutting out flame shapes in orange and yellow and attaching them with double sided tape – et voilà, a fiery vase! Accompanying the hot-off-the-press vase was the label from one of the Golfer’s favourite tipples, fiery ginger beer, and an equally fiery carnelian pebble, hand polished in Madagascar. Carnelian is believed to stimulate the root chakra, helping you to trust yourself and your perceptions, and this is a particularly tactile piece, fitting perfectly in the hand.

fire.brigadeIt has been a joy to be able to pick big bundles of blooms like this, certainly aided by the cutting beds from which most of these were picked. I could have gone down any number of colour themed routes for today’s vase such is the abundance provided by the garden this month, but I knew all along that the sunflower had to be the starting point. I wonder which route other vases will take today? Reading about how our choices of blooms and vases and props are arrived at adds to the pleasure of the meme, so do consider joining us if you haven’t already done so – just leave links to and from your post so that we can see what you have found to pop into your receptacle to bring you pleasure this week. And please excuse my tardiness last week – normal service will resumed soon!



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Cutting Bed Review: Flowering Fruition

IMG_5279Every month Julie of Peonies and Posies encourages us to show the progress of our cutting beds,  a useful resource for those of us who like to pick blooms to put in a vase on a Monday or any other day. This month I really feel that all the effort of sowing and nurturing is beginning to pay off as many of the occupants of my cutting beds are in flower or at least in bud. The above bed in particular is full of blocks of different greens and a smattering of other colours, and definitely showing the benefit of planting in blocks rather than rows. We have three different dahlias, all in bud, white and blue nigella, cerinthe, Tagetes ‘Paprika’, Escholtzia ‘Red Chief’, Briza maxima, Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’, Papaver ‘Apple Green’, Dianthus ‘Russian Skies’ and last year’s Sweet William.

The corner bed has already produced bupleurium for a recent vase, and another dahlia, rudbeckia and larkspur are progressing nicely,  zinnia less so. Various alliums also share this bed.

IMG_5282IMG_5286Zinnia ‘Purple Prince’ and ‘Queen Lime’ and Tithonia are making steady progress in the third bed, where Clary ‘Oxford Blue is in full flow. Ammi visnaga, Daucus carota and Amaranthus ‘Green Cascade’ are leafy and promising, and Cosmos ‘Antiquity’ is flowering happily but on very short stems – they are a lovely colour but I do hope they will grow taller.


The first flower has appeared on the sunflowers in the fourth bed but has been snipped for a vase. Cosmos ‘Candy stripe’ has been flowering for 3 weeks and the leggy centaurea has been flowering for longer than that. Red amaranthus and further zinnia occupy other blocks, along with feeble molucella and insignificant Lupin ‘Snow Pixie’ neither of which I will bother with next year. Late sown Ammi majus is dotted through this and other beds and is almost flowering.

IMG_5283IMG_5284In the middle foreground is a lone hosta, accidentally left behind when its overwintered brothers were moved on, and a promising little group of Antirrhinum ‘Twinny Pink’ just beginning to flower. This is not a tall variety, but I am thrilled to have finally raised snapdragons from seed and now have the confidence to try them or other varieties next year. I am also growing white and yellow ‘Twinny’ varieties but they have not grown as vigorously as the pink.

Keeping a record of what I have sown and when it was planted out and when it flowered is already proving a useful resource, as are the cutting beds. I still cut from elsewhere in the garden too but try to keep it discreet whereas I could cut all the blooms on plants in the cutting beds if I so chose – in the meantime though they are, of course, attractive in their own right. Have you found space for beds devoted to growing flowers and foliage for cutting?

Posted in cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens | Tagged | 13 Comments

Back From the Far East

IMG_5217Well, not that far really – ‘just’ down the A5 and A14 to East Anglia where have enjoyed a few days in our campervan. Highlights of the visit were seeing those wonderfully ghostly Himalayan silver birches at Anglesey Abbey (and the embryonic planting in the adjacent new grove which will supplement and regenerate the existing area as it ages) and the most effective planting of Allium christophii amongst the meadow grass at the same place:

IMG_5227Not surprisingly for an English garden on a warm and sunny day in June the roses (including several of the varieties I now grow) looked and smelt divine. We had planned to look round the house too but failed to realise the house wasn’t open on Mondays – another time, perhaps when the famous snowdrops are blooming….

IMG_5234At Places for Plants I was intrigued by the large number of varieties of Cornus kousa around the largely wooded garden:

IMG_5238And also those fantastic candelabra primulas of course:

IMG_5242I couldn’t fail to be fascinated by the dry gravel beds (and the reasoning behind them) at the Beth Chatto Garden (and the ducklings):

IMG_5256IMG_5251The salvia shown below was clearly the plant of the moment at Hyde Hall and I strongly resisted the temptation to buy one, already having a collection of salvia from Hayloft that were waiting patiently at home to be planted out. Just like Anglesey Abbey, the roses in the Modern Rose Garden, Rose Rope walk and Shrub Rose border were pure aromatic lusciousness.

IMG_5261IMG_5271The real highlight of the trip and the indeed the purpose behind it, however, was meeting up with fellow bloggers Julie (Peonies & Posies) and ‘Chloris’ (The Blooming Garden) on their respective patches. It was like meeting old friends and we could easily have outstayed our welcome, chatting for hours, if time and other things had not prevented this. It is SO exciting and such a privilege to finally meet bloggers with whom one has built up a friendship over the last few years, albeit online, and to see their gardens and put those into perspective too. Thank you both for making us so welcome and to the Pianist for helping to keep us entertained (sadly not on the piano – but I am sure he would have done!). It appears we are gradually working our way around the UK so where will it be next, I wonder…?



Posted in Gardens, Visiting gardens & days out | Tagged | 26 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Having a Field Day


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In a Vase on Monday : Summer Breeze (makes me feel fine)

IMG_5205I was desperate to use my first yellow roses (bravely included in the garden for the first time, having resisted their ‘yellowness’ for a long time) as soon as I could, so when the buds responded to a boost of warm June air by beginning to burst open the first three nascent blooms were plucked. They are from one of David Austin’s 2014 introductions, ‘The Poet’s Wife’, described as having a ‘neat outer ring of petals enclosing an informal group of petals within’, and a fragrance beginning with strong lemon tints, becoming stronger with age. I like the way the petals almost fade to white at their outer edges.

IMG_5204It was this combination of gentle yellow and the softness of the day that reminded me of warm summer days with a gentle breeze that wafts the fragrance of blooms throughout the garden – so any thoughts of a ‘hot hot hot’ vase dissipated in favour of a search for further blooms that would be pleasing to the poet’s wife. Thus we have a now label-less honeysuckle, Nasturtium ‘Milkmaid’, white aquilegia and ‘Dragon’s Breath’ aquilegia from Touchwood seed, Geum ‘Tequila Sunrise’ (complementing the colours of the latter), elegant buds of Eschscholzia ‘Ivory Castle’, immature flowerheads of Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and a single spike of unopened Hemerocallis ‘Mini Stella’. Joining the blooms were stems of bupleurium from the cutting beds, useful Luzula nivea and the perfect colour shaded contribution of Acer ‘Orange Dreams’, one of four tiny potted acers.

IMG_5199The blooms are displayed in the Uig Pottery ‘flowerstone’ I bought on our trip to the Outer Hebrides, although Uig itself is on Skye and the flowerstone travelled further westwards with us. I should, of course, have taken a ‘before’ photograph as you can’t make it out clearly now it is full of flowers. It is reminiscent of a hollow discus with holes of varying diameters in the top half and was made in various finishes but I liked this one, called ‘Expressive Landscape’, best as the mottled brown base and soft blue upper half did indeed remind me of a highland landscape – across which a summer breeze is now wafting. Unfortunately the holes are not as practical as you might think as stems have to be cut quite short to encourage the blooms to stand up rather than lean at haphazard angles.

IMG_5203Inspiration for appropriate props was lacking – but this tiny faience tea set in colours that complemented the blooms and the blue of the flowerstone hinted at lazy afternoons in a summer garden, taking tea and cake and making easy conversation, one’s senses assailed by that summer breeze and all the pleasures it carries upon it…

Would you like to bring the pleasure of blooms or other material from your garden into your home on a Monday, popping them into a vase to enjoy during the week? Those of us who look forward to this regular Monday fix can highly recommend it – the pleasure of choosing blooms, admiring them at close quarters and sharing them with other bloggers has exceeded all expectations. It does not have to be every week – just as and when is fine – and material can be plonked or arranged or displayed however you want. It is a personal challenge for your own pleasure – but sharing it can enhance that pleasure, so ideally do leave links to and from your post so we can have a peep at what you have in your vase (or jam jar or whatever!) ps I may be a little tardy to replying to your comments or checking out your vases this week, but I will catch up when I can…


Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 62 Comments

A Closer Look At: the Paved Area

IMG_5189When End of the Month View time comes around I realise that some parts of the garden only come to light in these monthly posts and some areas not at all (although the latter perhaps for good reason…), so have decided to do a series of posts looking a little closer at individual areas. Today I am showing a little more detail of the paved area, our main view from the kitchen windows.

The garden slopes slightly from left to right and from back to front, accentuated at this point by the redistribution of soil dug from the footings of our extension. Thus there is a step up to the paved area to the left (just visible on the photo below) with an adjacent cobbled ramp to allow passage with a wheelbarrow, slate steps on the right, and a drop on the right beyond the pergola down to the stream. The raised bank between the steps became a rockery, constructed mostly with rocks found in the hedge, which despite an overhaul a couple of years ago is once again smothered in excitable ground hugging plants, albeit pretty. Ferns tend to self seed in the crevices and need to be removed before they overstay and outgrow their welcome. The witch hazel I am ‘watching’ for the monthly tree post is on the paved area at the far end of the rockery and barely noticeable whilst everything else is in full growth.

IMG_5190At the top of the steps is a grouping of lead effect pots and a stone sink, the latter removed from the house at some time before we came. It is from these pots that the cornus were moved to the shrub border last autumn, where they are not surprisingly much happier. The largest pot has my ‘Munstead Wood’ rose, accompanied by twice or thrice overwintered pelargoniums, the next sweet peas with verbena at their feet, and the other two have spare lobelia and diascia that had no other home to go to – forward thinking for the three smaller pots is required in the future! The hostas have been there for over 10 years or so and are untroubled by slugs in this location.

IMG_5191To the left beyond these pots is the rose arbour (awaiting overhaul and, in this picture, sheltering the shredder which was dealing with hedge trimmings) over which Rambling Rector sprawls, with Clematis texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty’ (in bud for the first time) climbing up the post on the left and C jouiniana ‘Praecox’ and climbing rose ‘New Dawn’ on the right. The path continues under the arbour and alongside the magnolia and now elevated snowdrop border to the left of the sitooterie and then the rest of the garden. The bench was rescued from a friend’s allotment and has been re-timbered but is awaiting a coat of my ubiquitous ‘Wild Thyme’.

IMG_5193IMG_5198There are several other containers on the paved area, mostly fairly recently acquired galvanised ones. These are home to three more new roses – patio rose ‘Sweet Dreams’ (top left, and a much prettier peachy colour than the photo suggests) and ‘Harlow Carr’ and ‘Little White Pet’ (top right). In front of the pergola (with ‘Danse de Feu’ roses, now in their 15th year, and three early clematis) the galvanised pot has Sweet William and another stone sink has various alpines.

paved.potsFinally, a view looking across the Tai Chi lawn towards the sitooterie, showing four pots with young acers and three terracotta pots of double petunias. I gave up with petunias in these pots for several years as it had become too shady for them, but have given them another chance since the old plum tree was lopped – the grass should benefit from additional light too. The path to the right is bordered by an extension to the pergola which is planted with continuous flowering rambler ‘Rural England'; the apple and damsons are to the right of this, with a crossing point of the stream just out of shot in the foreground. The chunky mirror propped up was a neighbour’s reject, also rejected by the ‘tat’ man, and is awaiting a new location in the garden. Waste not, want not!

IMG_5196So, that’s the first of the closer looks – I wonder what will be next?

Posted in garden structure, Gardening, Gardens, Recycling | 21 Comments