No Idea Why or How it is August Tomorrow…

I really don’t know how we are suddenly at the end of July when it was just the other day we waved goodbye to June, but – hey ho! – that seems to be the case so I had better run round the garden to record what is happening, starting with the usual view from behind the house (above) and the adjacent streamside and shrub border below:

Moving on to the woodland and then the view from the bothy at the end of it:

The main borders shown in the photo above are shown from ground level below, along with the adjacent bronze heuchera bed and clematis colonnade:

From the same spot we look towards the woodland edge border, then view it from the opposite end:

We come to the three bold borders next…

…before walking through the gate to the working greenhouse and cutting beds:

On to the blue & white borders and the rose garden:

Heading back to the house we see the border of rainbow annuals and look back across to the paved area…

….before having a peep in the Coop  and at the bold border beyond it:

Now help yourself to a cup of tea and piece of cake and sit back and watch a video of the garden to give you a more rounded picture – and remember there is a map under The Garden tab above to help you work out the layout of the garden

View directly in YouTube at

Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | 7 Comments

Six on Saturday: Bringing Pleasure

Just a quick Six on Saturday today, featuring some of the many things that are bringing me pleasure in the garden, some new additions and some stalwarts, starting with one of three streptocarpus added to the Coop this year, the one above being S Harlequin Lace.

Foliage from various Allium hollandicum died down really early this year, or was hidden but other plants, but the seedheads seemed to disappear unusually early too, unlike these slightly larger and later Allium ‘Miami’ whose seedheads are still standing firm and providing structure within many of the borders:

Echinops are real bee magnets and the white Echinops ‘Arctic Glow’  has been the first to colour up, bringing instant visitors:

I have tried to add herbaceous sprawling clematis to many of the borders, providing small obelisks for initial support. This one is C ‘Alionushka’, with pretty bell-shaped blooms:

A new addition to my dahlia bed this year is ‘Blue Bayou’, a lavender-pink collarette dahlia with a large and distinctive central boss. Most of the blooms have been better than this example, which is a little misshapen:

Finally, one of my many persicaria, this one P ‘Pink Elephant’, a fairly short variety with distinctively twisting stems in a pretty pink which I am sure will appear in a vase sometime soon.

Jon the Propagator who hosts this meme is away from home today, but is posting his six from afar so you can still visit his blog and check them out, along with those of other bloggers around the world.



Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday | 9 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: a Crumpled Handkerchief

Posted in climbers, Gardening, Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 7 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

I would much rather be making a notional nod towards the lyrics ‘Sunshine on a rainy day’ in my title, but sadly we have still not had any rain to compensate for a week of 30° temperatures. The cloudier skies over the weekend and the gentle breeze that accompanied them have been very welcome, and the wall-to-wall sunshine, heat and humidity of the preceding week are but a memory, recreated in today’s vase: a sunflower sun from freebie ‘Sunburst Mix’ shining amongst larkspur ‘Dark Blue’ with wispy clouds of clary sage ‘White’. I am thrilled to have grown larkspur successfully this year and have enjoyed watching the blooms fill out to form these densely packed flower heads; the secret, I believe, is to put the seeds in the freezer for a couple of weeks prior to sowing.

I chose a vase in the ‘heather’ colourway from my endless Caithness Glass collection, this one having an asymmetrical rim not visible in the photos. The sunflower did not want to stand upright, despite the use of a metal frog, but trimming it successively shorter eventually brought about the desired effect and the gubbins were concealed with clear glass beads. The umbrella is part of a garden ornament given to us which brings rather more pleasure to one of the grandchildren than to us…!

Would you like to pick blooms or other material from your garden (or forage something locally) to share with us on IAVOM today? If so, please leave links to and from this post so we can see the vase that will be bringing you pleasure over the next few days or maybe beyond.

Posted in annuals, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 27 Comments

Crowning Glory and Other Curiosities

I showed an example of fasciation on Wordless Wednesday last week, in that case in a veronicastrum; today I found another example, this time in Veronica longifolium ‘Marietta’. Fasciation occurs due to abnormal activity in the growing tip of a plant, producing flattened, elongated shoots and flower heads that look like many stems compressed together. A fascinating curiosity indeed!

Have you seen a green sweet pea before? Well, when I bought my Winter Sunshine sweet peas last year on impulse I also bought a packet of Lathyrus chloranthus, a species from Asia with ‘sweet pea like’ blooms in an unusual greeny-yellow colour, sadly without a fragrance. I may or may not save seed and sow it again for next year.

Something different, although not a curiosity, is this new-to-me annual Leonorus sibirius, also bought on impulse but this time from Chiltern Seeds Edit catalogue, sown at the beginning of April, planted out two months later and flowering from mid June. Easy and quick to grow, it is proving to be a good do-er and should continue flowering till September. Growing to about 6 feet tall, it makes a great impact in a border, is apparently also good as a cut flower and will now be appearing on my seed list every year.

Also new this year is Dahlia ‘Pink Petticoats’, a flustered and dishevelled white dahlia with hints of pink – I am curious to know what she has been up to…

As well as plants new to me, there are a number of longer-term  residents flowering for the first time this year, some of which have been mentioned already. Wordless Wednesdays’ dierama is one of them too, but now I have a monarda in bloom and a liatris about to flower too – what is it about this year that has brought so many firsts? Coincidence perhaps, but certainly a curious coincidence.

Do now pop over to Jon the Propagators blog to see if any other contributors to his Six on Saturday meme have curiosities to share too.


Posted in annuals, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, seed sowing, Six on Saturday | Tagged | 17 Comments

All Done…

Tuesday afternoon saw the last of our gardening openings for this year, with a group visit from a local gardening club. The group had actually booked to visit last year but Covid put paid to that, so I was pleased to be approached by their organiser at our first opening this year, the last Wednesday in June, to see if I would accept a late booking for a group. Ideally, it would have followed on soon after the main openings but was in fact about three weeks later; fortunately, the garden kept its side of the bargain, despite the heat, and the lull in rose blooming was largely compensated for by the progress of clematis and dahlias.

Members of the group were happy enough, as were all visitors to the garden, and we are beginning to build up a group of repeat visitors, including our loyal pair of ladies who have visited each year we have opened, five in total. Parking could easily be an issue with a larger number of visitors, and totals on our main opening days over these few years average 30-50, the vehicles of which we have been able to accommodate in the local ‘school yard’, as kindly arranged with our neighbours who live in a converted Victorian school. We have previously had permission to use the village hall car park for our helpers and any overspill, but the threat of travellers/gypsies moving onto the car park meant the gates now have to kept locked, which meant ad hoc overspill was not possible. This was an initial cause for concern but in practice the schoolyard never got beyond capacity.

In total we had 39 visitors for our Wednesday opening and 53 on the Sunday, with 29 in the first group (with two friends arriving as they departed) and 16 in the second, plus a couple of visitors who had followed signs and turned up on spec without knowing what to expect (a country estate, I believe, but they still went away happy after their visit!). In two of our previous years of opening we have opened on two Sundays as well as the Wednesday, but this puts pressure on our much-valued helpers and may only have brought in a handful of extra visitors, so we shall probably stick with one mid-week and one weekend day in future.

For the main visits, people arrive within the allotted hours we are open (1-4 on Weds, 1-5 Sunday) and tend to spend some time looking around the garden (half an hour or longer), then have a drink and cake before going around the garden again to revisit or see what they missed the first time. All first-timers are astonished at how much garden there is behind the fairly narrow frontage, and how much we have been able to cram in. We also have boards displaying photos and explaining how the garden was created, as people are always interested to understand time scales – and why garden ownership of our own and neighbouring plots is so bizarre!

When the weather is good, people like to linger and enjoy the ambience and fragrance of the roses, but with plants and ‘bits and bobs’ (dibbers and seed tray tampers made by the Golfer and various garden-related items that we no longer have a use for) for sale we hope to raise more cash on their departure too.  Group visits tend to follow the same pattern as above, and I have never yet been asked to ‘lead’ them around the garden, not that this would be practical here. However, It is important for me to be on hand on any open day, mingling with visitors, answering queries and questions which are many and varied.

In our fifth year, we are pretty confident in what we are doing and have built up our experience base as well as our resources, so ‘just’ move everything into place as our visiting season starts in June. Pretty china mugs and plates were bought from car boot sales, as was a large quantity of fabric which made tablecloths and seat cushions for tables (both inside and out) and benches. Supports for roadsign posters live in the loft during the year, as do internal signs to provide information around the garden. Extra tables were created by adding temporary tabletops to a pair of tall stools, and chairs for our pop-up café came from the room I used for meditation and therapies. Our kitchen and ‘back sitting room’ are rearranged for the duration of the openings, so with a month between first and last visits this year we were more than glad to put everything to rights and return all those boxes to the loft!

And how have we done? Well, our 142 visitors contributed to total receipts of £1243 – £598 from entrance tickets, £345 refreshments, £220 plant sales and £80 from bits and bobs. We give 60% of the extras we provide to the National Garden Scheme (NGS) and the charities they support, giving a total of £1000, with £130 going to the local charity I volunteer with and £113 retained as expenses. There can be a lot of work involved, but it’s a hugely enjoyable experience and a delight to share the pleasure we get from the garden with other like-minded people.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, open gardens, Visiting gardens & days out | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Gone Fishin’

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 4 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Sizzling

It really has been sizzling here in the last few days, with temperatures hovering around 30°, making gardening tasks sticky and uncomfortable. With our second and last group visit to the garden planned for Tuesday, deadheading, staking and tying back have been daily activities, with watering now added to the list as many plants begin to visibly droop.

I already had my eye on dahlias as contenders for IAVOM but having picked stems of Bishop of Auckland and Geoffrey Kent wasn’t sure what to do with them. Dismissing a mixed vase of dahlias I eventually went down a fiery route to match the sizzling weather, adding the following: Antirrhinum ‘Liberty Classic Crimson’, Helichrysum ‘Orange’, sweet pea ‘King George VI’, Calendula ‘Orange Prince’ offspring, Amaranthus ‘Hot Biscuits’, Dianthus ‘Rocking Red’ and foliage from Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’. All except the persicaria were grown from seed. On cooler days, the amaranthus remains vertical and although I am going to drop the other amaranthus I grow from my seed list I will stick with this for its vase potential.

Sunglasses have acted as props for at least one sunny vase before now, and I may well have used matches too but had to smile when I pulled this box out of the drawer and saw the five fat sausages sizzling in the pan (‘one went pop and the other went bang’)! I know parts of North America and other parts of Europe have suffered heavy rain and flooding in

recent days, sadly leading to loss of life, but whether your weather is sizzling or not perhaps you could find blooms or other material from your garden or foraged nearby to pop into a vase or other container and share it with us today by leaving links to and from this post.

Posted in annuals, cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Summer, Weather | Tagged | 37 Comments

A Pot Review

Following on from a review of the borders, I thought it would be helpful for me to review this season’s pots, starting with the front of the house, where the summer content of this pair of baskets has remained largely unchanged for a number of years: pink, purple and blue surfinia petunias, lilac trailing lobelia and whatever this trailing foliage plant is (nepeta I think). The fact that my choice does not vary tells you successful they have been, subject to regular deadheading, watering and additional feeding later on in the season. Being at the front of the house, this nurturing tends to get overlooked as I am reminded (but frequently then forget) just when going out or coming in.

Also at the front are two pots, this year with Argyranthemum ‘Grandaisy Pink’ and the trailing Lobelia ‘Fountain Lilac’, both used extensively elsewhere in the garden and working well together here, the argyranthemum emerging amidst a sea of lilac froth:

The argyranthemum is used in pots in front of the sitooterie, with pelargonium in the troughs (and me reflected in the glass!), and in a large pot near the clematis colonnade, and subject to deadheading will continue to flower all season and could possibly be overwintered but with no guarantee of success, so I shan’t be bothering. I buy a tray of 40 plug plants and have used spares to fill gaps at the front of the borders.

The main pots, the ones requiring most planning, are the four square lead effect ones on the paved area, in graduated sizes, and yet again the contents will need editing. Looking at them in this photo, you could be forgiven for thinking they contained only purple petunias and the trailing lilac lobelia, although in real life you can see some pink diascia, D ‘BreezeePink’ too. You can’t, however, see Verbena ‘Enchantment ‘Hot Pink’ nor Osteospermum ‘3D Double Purple’, so that’s a waste of £15 0r more! One of the issues seems to be the exuberance of the lobelia, which quickly swamps any pot it is planted in, particularly if planted in twos or threes, which will have been the case in larger pots. There is a similar issue with the tank of Verbena ‘Sparkling Purple Blues’ and the three pots with single plugs of calibrochea and lobelia, although I suspect there may not be enough sun for the calibrochea.

Also in view from the back of the house are the five pots always in the foreground of the first shot on my End of Month View photos; for many years they have held dark red pelargonium but looked increasingly tatty so I decided to ditch them this year in favour of bedding dahlias. They looked good for a month or so until the local snail population decided they tasted good too, so I need a reliable alternative for future years and may well end up with single coloured Busy Lizzies which I already use in several other pots, with mixed colours in the bigger pots. I sourced them from two different sources this year so have ended up with some pastel and some brighter pots. Since their downy mildew problem was (temporarily?) eradicated they once again provide reliable colour, shrugging off sun, rain and pests and not requiring deadheading.

I showed you the tank with Dahlia ‘Art Deco’ yesterday, clashing a little with the lobelia, but thriving in the sun and seemingly unaffected by slugs and snails, so dahlias will continue to feature here in future years.

Most of the pots are in the areas nearer the house, but there are four square pots in front of the main borders, two tucked into the corners of the sunken area and two behind where the photo below was taken from. This year they contain Nemesia ‘Easter Bonnet’ and although the photo does not do them justice they have made a pretty display and have the typical nemesia fragrance of vanilla, which pervades the immediate area, guaranteeing a place for them or their relatives next year.

I mentioned the pots that form part of the blue & white borders in my post about borders, and they undoubtedly need a great deal of thought. Elsewhere, and with sincere thanks to petunias, Busy Lizzies, argyranthemum and exuberant trailing lobelia most of the pots have been reasonably successful but the four big square ones in particular continue to provide an annual dilemma…is less more, or would reducing the lobelia make all the difference? One can only try it and see!


Posted in annuals, container & basket plants, Gardening, Gardens, plants in pots | 11 Comments

Six on Saturday: David, Dorothy and Some Bishops

Most of my dahlias have been flowering for a few weeks, some now prolifically, and with some difficulty have chosen six to share on Jon the Propagator’s weekly meme, starting with David Howard (above) and Dorothy Rose below:

Top Totty (below) is just one of my favourites:

Two of my three bishops, both very different, the more common Bishop of Llandaff and the wine coloured (not accurately shown in the photo) Bishop of Auckland, who reminds me of dear blogging friend Dorris, who introduced me to him:

Finally, what should have been the deep pink Art Nouveau but turned out to be near-relative Art Deco, a pleasant surprise which serendipitously sits nicely next to apricot coloured rose Lady Emma Hamilton:


Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday | 23 Comments