Wordless Wednesday: The Poet’s Wife Writes Again

Posted in Gardens, roses, Wordless Wednesday | 4 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Making a Statement

I am not often able to showcase blooms as tall as these, and the three spikes of delphinium (Camelot Group) certainly do make a statement – I am not exactly sure what statement they might be making, but it could be “look at the luscious deep blue of my blooms”, or “I’m the king of the castle” or maybe (to me) the derisory “Shortie!”. More likely, it would have been “Good Grief! Look at that rain, spoiling everyone’s planned Platinum Jubilee street parties!”, for this is exactly what happened yesterday, and also why we have a very brief and minimal IAVOM post.

The plant itself was the sole survivor of a batch of delphinium plugs dating back to at least 2013 and thus proving itself reliable. I split it a couple of years ago, with one plant remaining in the blue & white border and another in one of the bold borders. I haven’t been able to get them to reflower after cutting back following the first flush, but I am hopeful at least that, having cut these main spikes now, the smaller side shoots will bloom better.

I tried a single fern stem and then one of laurel with the three spikes, but decided something trailing would be a more effective accompaniment, although the chosen summer jasmine Jasminium beesianum with its tiny pink flowers doesn’t make quite the same statement as the delphinium, but perhaps the ‘mini megaphone’* will help…

* not a mini megaphone at all but a vintage funnel masquerading as such.

I believe much of the UK was wet yesterday, but those making vases today to share on IAVOM might find the weather more conducive to wandering around their gardens choosing blooms. Just leave links to and from this post if you decide to join us.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, rain | 41 Comments

Six on Saturday: Not All of Them Pretty…

…so let’s start with one of them that is, Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ on a stem accidentally broken off when I was tying in a nearby clematis. It certainly proves that it pays to study the plants in our garden closely as I found that not only does it have the most exquisite fragrance but its petals all have a deep scallop in them, creating the effect of even more petals. Checking on other roses, some have a hint of this too, but nowhere near the extent of this particular rose – and it’s not something I have particularly noticed before. I am surprised that it is not mentioned in David Austin’s description of it, as to me it is a real feature, as is the fact the buds start off a dark coral colour before magically transforming to true pink once they open fully: a truly enchanting rose.

Definitely not pretty is the apparent return of mildew on Busy Lizzies (below left), after enjoying 5 or 6 years of new resistant varieties – I have not heard it mentioned anywhere yet but this is clearly and sadly what it is. I am not sure what has happened to a number of my seed-sown zinnias (right) either but I am confident it is not slug damage. I have made a very late second sowing but will, I think, just have to accept that there will be fewer zinnias gracing the cutting beds this year.

It’s my own fault as I tend not to enter the fruit cage between early season mulching or feeding until fruit is ripening, but there is now sawfly on the redcurrants, munching their way through the leaves. I did use a neem oil drench over winter the year before last, but forgot last year. Usually, the fruit is not too badly affected by the leaf damage and I will make an effort in the next day or two to pick off what I can to limit any further damage.

You might want to close your eyes and miss this next one out and admittedly I too feel like shedding a tear as I gaze at this, the Lanky Lodger on his way to the bin…a very sorry sight indeed…

I could say he was on his last legs, gradually disintegrating, but he has spent a lifetime sitting down, which might explain the lack of muscle as he has never used them. The Golfer certainly looked at me aghast when he saw the above picture, bemoaning he would have no-one to wave to when he went for a walk around the garden, and I did briefly consider if there was any way he (the lanky Lodger, not the Golfer) could be revived but no, it was only ever going to be temporary installation because of the way he was constructed. I would like to do something else similar in due course, but with just a chickenwire framework, perhaps.

The last two of my six for Jon the Propagator’s weekly meme are on a more cheerful note, with the first of this year’s seed-sown blooms in the cutting beds, Calendula ‘Sunset Buff’, the half-open flower cleverly (the variety, not my photography) showing off the contrasting obverse and reverse of the petals at the same time, and the first dahlia, ‘Happy Single Juliet’ – not the most perfect bloom, but a bloom all the same.

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

Wordless Wednesday: Damage Limitation?

Posted in rain, roses, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 7 Comments

End of Month View: May, Blink and You Would Have Missed It!

It’s not just gardeners who notice how quickly time seems to pass, nor just those of us getting older, but it really does seem as if May had only just started but is now inexplicably coming to a close. On this last day of the month I easily succeeded in finding a dry spell to sprint round the garden and take photographs a the monthly video –  we had been forecast a damp day, and it started with the promised rain, but despite torrential downpours only 3 or 4 miles away when I was out this morning, they didn’t reach as far as our garden although we did have had a very brief but heavy shower later, with some hail thrown in for good measure, dislodging some precious rose blooms in the process.

It’s hard to believe just how FULL the garden is, with nearly bare beds and borders only a month or two ago. Looking at the still photographs (you can find an annotated map under The Garden tab above, which shows where they are usually taken from), you can see the view from the back of the house above, and the adjacent streamside and shrub border below, from both directions:

Next, the woodland, followed by the view from the Bothy and the same area from ground level (the empty compost bag with excess allium bulbs is not very photogenic!):

Notice the low growing roses below the clematis colonnade and the revamped heuchera bed before walking through the woodland edge border, where the rhododendrons are just on the wane but there are a few roses beginning to add colour, along with the striking foliage of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’:

The new grass border is settling in, and the two remaining bold borders have a good sprinkling of colour:

In the working end of the garden, the dahlia and sweet peas are growing well, as are the contents of the four cutting beds, although so far it is only the overwintered antirrhinum that is blooming:

Moving on, we pass the blue & white border before walking through the rose garden and under the clematis colonnade towards the main borders, the latter lush with foliage:

Heading back towards the house, we pass what was the named snowdrop border, currently filled with limonium (statice), just budding up, look up towards the waning wisteria, before popping into the Coop and then down the side to the Coop Corner. The Clematis armandii, despite large sections of it dying off, seems to be putting on a spurt again, easily enveloping adjacent plants if not tied into the fence:

A video should give a more rounded picture of the garden, and it took two attempts to successfully take one this morning, only for me to realise that having left my phone lead behind when we were away for a few days last week I was unable to load it to my laptop. I have uploaded a video using the Golfer’s phone instead, but I cannot vouch for the quality, so my apologies in advance.

Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | 13 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Umbrellas on a Cloudy Day

Although it has been, like April, a largely dry month here, May has seen a lot of cloud cover with hazy rather than endless sunshine and yesterday, when this vase was created, was no different. The vase-making process began with a stem of  Allium (Nectaroscordum) siculum, looking especially healthy this year and attracting a regular posse of bees – and which made me think of umbrellas. Most years the blooms seem to get stuck halfway through opening, mummifying in their in-between state, so it makes me happy to see a clump of fully-developed blooms for once.

From here I moved on to pick a stem of a particularly attractive astrantia, with a theme beginning to develop once I realised it was A ‘Ruby Cloud’. More clouds were added in the form of furry bunny tails grass, Lagurus ovatus, and umbrellas in the form of another allium, possibly self-seeded A roseum. I have seen clouds not dissimilar to the fluffy pink balls of Phuopsis stylosa towards sunset many times but yesterday could not identify the source of the strange glow in the midst of our neighbours’ mature beech tree. Developing seedheads of various aquilegia were also added as much for their attractiveness as anything else, and leaves of an unlabelled heuchera included for contrast. The vase is one of a number we have acquired as trophies in the past from our tenpin bowling league, and cocktail umbrellas returned as the inevitable prop.

Last week’s vase with the antirrhinum travelled with us on a short visit to my Mum’s last week, tucked into the corner of the boot of the car at the last minute, and I look forward to being able to create more vases with further blooms over the summer as well as sowing early for next year – although with an increasing variety of blooms to choose from as we head towards summer and the first buds opening on my dahlias there may not be an opportunity to share them with you again this year. In the meantime, perhaps you have blooms from your own gardens to share with us on IAVOM.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 31 Comments

Six on Saturday: Not All of Them Pink…

Just a quick SoS from me today, with no apologies for them all being roses – but at least they are not all pink! There are still many roses with buds yet to open, and those that are in flower are still only sporting less than a handful of blooms. Above we have the dancer, ‘Darcey Bussell’, and below Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’:

One of the RHS gardens, ‘Harlow Carr’, followed by Gertrude Jekyll’s at ‘Munstead Wood’:

I enjoy browsing David Austin’s catalogue of roses because it always gives the origin of their names, and completing today’s six for the Saturday meme kindly hosted by Jon the Propagator we have ‘Crown Princess Margareta, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, married to King Gustavus VI Adolfus of Sweden, and an accomplished landscape gardener and artist, and ‘Strawberry Hill’, the gothic revival house in Twickenham, London, built by Horace Walpole.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, roses, Six on Saturday | 33 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Pretty as a Princess

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 11 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Taking Liberties, With Black Stockings

Today’s vase just fell into place, including the title! These antirrhinum were ripe for an airing today, picked from an unexpectedly overwintered plant that has grown into a sturdy and attractive plant. Sown last year, they didn’t do especially well then although I did get a few blooms but even these did not open fully. It makes me wonder if it would make sense to sow them in summer or autumn for flowering the following year to give them a chance to bulk up – has anybody else done this?

This variety is meant to be Liberty Classic Scarlet, although when it flowered last year I wasn’t convinced that it was correctly labelled, as it seemed more orange in tone than I expected and had a yellow throat. The name, however, whether correct or not, when paired with a stem of newly-flowering Thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’, quickly generated the title and prop, with the Miss Scarlett card from our game of Cleudo ably contributing to the overall effect, as she plies her trade for a second time.

Having picked the blooms earlier in the day yesterday than I usually do, I plunged them into this enamelled jug for a number of hours as any good florist or IAVOM-er always does as a matter of course (ahem…!), and decided to use the same jug for the final display, using some glass pebbles to help the wayward thalictrum remain upright.

I always enjoy creating my vases each Monday and get immense pleasure from bringing blooms inside; everything coming together so quickly and easily brings an added glow, and so does the unexpected quality of the antirrhinum blooms themselves. I suspect other contributors feel much the same way, so what will be bringing you pleasure in your vases today? Please leave links to and from this post and share them with the rest of us.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Spring | Tagged , | 44 Comments

Six on Saturday, Not All of Them Roses…

Although many of the numerous roses in the garden have an odd flower or two, we are still a number of weeks away from peak flowering time, which hopefully will coincide with our garden opening towards the end of June. Even Rambling Rector’s thousands of buds are still firmly closed, promising a  fully clothed arbour a few weeks hence. Newest rose to open is pale pink ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ (above), a long way behind Gertrude Jekyll in the number of petals per bloom.

A further example of a plant only recently thriving after a number of years is another rose, Cécile Brunner, originally contained and struggling in a ‘bottomless pot’ beside the shed, and now romping its way across the roof of the said shed, seemingly now happy as Larry. Its blooms are always described as ‘thimble-sized’, but in truth it would take a giant’s finger to fill a thimble of this size, although admittedly the blooms are small and delightfully perfect miniatures.

We now have a solution to the newly created gap behind the water butt – what better than another rose because, as we all know, you can never have enough roses! Choosing a climbing rose also gave me the opportunity to use a redundant obelisk which has been gathering spiders’ webs in the bothy for a few seasons, making it a doubly inspirational decision. Erring on the sensible side, my purchase was apricot shaded Bathsheba, rather than The Generous Gardener, which was named for the National Garden Scheme and thus would have been an appropriate choice, were it not for its height and vigour.

Come the summer months, clematis will come a close second to roses for colour and continued flower power, and the first C texensis to open is ‘Margot Kostner’:

Filling the garden with colour at the present moment though, amongst many other things, is a wide range of aquilegia, all grown from seed. Their intricate folds and flounces never fail to entrance me:

It’s not all standing and staring though, because there are jobs to be done, which today included removing dead and yellowing foliage from a large Fatsia japonica and cutting down some low hanging branches in the woodland. It’s a very satisfying feeling seeing a large pile of greenery being reduced to a pile a fraction of the size within half an hour or so:

Thank you to Jon the Propagator who hosts this weekly meme, enabling us to share various images of our varied gardens from around the world- why not check them out? And before you go, do have a look at the progress of our wonderful wisteria, still not quite at its peak:

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, open gardens, roses, Six on Saturday | 41 Comments