Six on Saturday: Dazzled, Damp and other Ds

We have had glorious weather recently, for most of our nearly four week lockdown in fact, with warmth and sunshine every day – a coat might have been needed perhaps only a couple of times for our daily permitted exercise (unless you are the Golfer, who has worn jumper, coat and hat and sometimes scarf on all of them). Whilst we have been leaping and bounding around the countryside (like newly born lambs? I think not…) the garden has been coming on in leaps and bounds too, its natural spring exuberance boosted by the warmth and only needing a bit of moisture to go into overdrive.

Gazing out of the kitchen windows and admiring the tulip and appleblossom I have noticed that the choisya in the shrub border (above) was really living up its name: Choisya x dewitteana ‘White Dazzler’. In the sunshine its whiteness was indeed dazzling and closer inspection proves it to have the most glorious fragrance too. It has only been a resident of the border for a couple of years and this is the first time it has been in full flower, only offering a token blossom or two before, so it must be happy in its location which of course is good to know.

As gardeners, those of us in the UK who have welcomed the sunshine to take the edge off the lockdown have nevertheless been aware that our gardens would also welcome some rain – and some of us will have been rewarded with a shower in the last 24 hours. Here in the Midlands we have only had a few millimetres but a cooler day has reduced the chances of evaporation and allowed some of it to soak into the ground so the garden at least looks Damp. It certainly seems a long time since I have seen raindrops collecting on alchemilla and sedum foliage:

We have both enjoyed watching the progress of our remaining magnolia, but for different reasons, the Golfer perhaps not being 100% behind my decision to remove the other one. I have mentioned before that this one, Magnolia ‘Susan’, was squeezed into a less than ideal spot and struggled to produce anything other than the odd flower or two for a number of years. It may be coincidence that this number began to increase once we removed some of the trees that were overshadowing parts of the garden, and last year Susan gave us a small but generous helping of her deep purple-pink flowers; this year she has truly forgiven us and given us a veritable banquet, a Delightful Display of blooms, which look perfectly at home against the backdrop of the Gallery Fence:

Tearing myself away and turning at 180°, I spotted a clump of species tulips which were planted last autumn and were now in flower for the first time, Tulipa bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder, with just-going-over T humilus ‘Persian Pearl’ behind them. I love these Diddy species tulips and plan to add several more clumps to grow amongst the roses in the Gallery Border, to the left of the magnolia.

In these herbaceous borders, various perennials have been quietly bulking up, building up to bursting into bloom at their allotted time, and their Discrete progress has led to a few surprises, with buds already opening on the first of the aquilegia, geranium, astrantia and allium, proclaiming many late spring and early summer joys to come:

The last of my Six on Saturday Ds, shared with others on Jon the Propagator’s SoS meme, are Delicacies, rare edibles in our almost exclusively ornamental garden. When we bought the property in 1995 we found various soft fruit bushes dotted randomly around the garden and when we first had time to devote to the garden rather than the house we dug them out and moved them to the bottom of the garden, protecting them some years later from the ravages of the greedy local bird population by the addition of a fruit cage. Trial and error have resulted in the current selection of blackberry, raspberry and redcurrant bushes, with the latter two now showing promising blooms. Having moved one of the redcurrants since last year, this is an especially pleasing sight:

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23 Responses to Six on Saturday: Dazzled, Damp and other Ds

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Except for the native currant (which makes only a few icky fruits), I have never grown a currant. They have been available in nurseries here for a few years. I got some back when they first showed up, but gave them away. I must try to them again to see what the allure is all about.

    • Cathy says:

      Do give them a try, Tony – have you tasted the berries at all?

      • tonytomeo says:

        I have never tried them fresh because I have never grown them. I sometimes try the native currants, thinking that I might eventually find one that is not icky. I remember that when I was a kid, currants were something rare and exotic that old ladies remembered from exotic places like Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Because we lacked them here, there were absent from fruitcakes and compotes. I know currants only from jam and candies that came from the East. I believe that most were black currants from Pennsylvania. I want to grow them because I remember how old ladies coveted them.

        • Cathy says:

          Supermarkets here will sell soft fruit in season, although currants not as widespreadly, but perhaps they focus just on local produce in your abundant part of the world?

          • tonytomeo says:

            Exotic fruit is a fad. Some if it is really pointless. I think that currants and gooseberries are not available only because they are so perishable. Now that I see their plants in the nurseries during bare root season, I intend to grow them, just to see what all the fuss is about. I suspect that I may not like black currants much.

        • Cathy says:

          And I have to confess, although I don’t consider myself an old lady, that blackcurrant jam is my favourite…!

  2. Noelle says:

    The magnolia with its lovely open branching is a picture…against your art fence. A very pleasing effect indeed Cathy. Your garden is tip top…

    • Cathy says:

      I suppose the combination is one of those happy coincedences as I don’t think the fence was there when the magnolia was first planted. It certainly looks all the better for having a background although the picture behind it was a car boot purchase last year.

  3. Jackie Knight says:

    I love those species tulips, and the Magnolia too.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, it is their stature I appreciate, as well as the fact they naturalise well so I can rely on them returning every year

  4. The pink magnolia against your gallery fence is stunning!

  5. Anna says:

    A delightful half dozen Cathy. ‘Susan’ definitely likes her new home. The aquilegias and geranium are well on their way here but no sign of astrantia flowers yet. We had some most welcome rain overnight Friday and then yesterday it rained for a couple of hours or so. Not heavy but the plants enjoyed lapping it up. My currant bushes are all at the allotment – white and black have fared well but sadly not the red which is the one I most enjoy eating. Time for a removal or replacement methinks.

    • Cathy says:

      It’s not a new home though, Anna, just a home she didn’t appreciate for a long time! I gave up on my blackcurrants which is a shame in a way as they make my favourite jam – but redcurrants are a must because I enjoy redcurrant jelly with many things! I was very surprised to see the astrantia but it is very definitely the only one…

  6. carolee says:

    We’ve had very little sunshine during this lockdown, so count your blessings! Love your gallery fence. Might have to steal that idea. I’m hoping my gooseberry and currant buds didn’t freeze!

    • Cathy says:

      Sorry about your lack of sunshine, Carolee – I know my Mum in the far west of Scotland hasn’t seen much of it either. Three of the paintings on the gallery fence were created by me, painted in acrylics on external MDF with several coats of varnish and have ben there well over 10 years, maybe 15; the one behind the magnolia was from a car boot sale and is an incised pattern. I also have some exterior canvases of photos I have taken. Do use the idea as it adds another dimension to a garden

  7. smallsunnygarden says:

    I love your Ds, Cathy! Your Delicacies sound quite Delicious – raspberry is one of my very favorite fruits in any case! I’ve grown gooseberries in times past, but never currants.
    Your T. bakeri and humilis combination must be a great deal of fun to watch come into bloom – a lovely color blend.
    We are just finishing a bout of freezing nights here, and I do hope the nasty snap is over, though none of my plants were fazed in the least. But I sympathize with the Golfer’s attire selections myself!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, raspberries are my favourite too, Amy, and virtually troublefree, unlike some of the other soft fruits. Hope you now have seen the end of cold nights till the winter!

  8. cavershamjj says:

    wow my astrantia are barely out of the ground. they are all young plants, grown from seed last year. I have found them difficult to germinate/grow from seed so i’m very pleased to have them. I hope they grow on a bit this year. flowers maybe?

    • Cathy says:

      Oh well done with your seeds – I tried once with no success at all. I know they do take a while to get established so flowers this year might be a bit optimistic- but as gardeners we will always hope! When I open the garden any plants I have will fly off the plant sales table so I usually pot up offshoots about now, but there is little point this year…

  9. Cathy says:

    A lovely six, and great that your ‘Susan’ is finally happy! Like you I am missing raindrops on alchemilla. We are at day 38 without rain, but I assured that when we hit day 40 it will start and not know how to stop!

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