In a Vase on Monday: Dotty

Picking almost anything that took my fancy to fill today’s vase, I was thinking along the lines of  ‘Anything Goes’ for a title, although ‘Anything But the Kitchen Sink’ might have been more appropriate. When I came to choose a vase, however, my eyes fell on this spotty dotty jug and immediately the collection of blooms was christened ‘Dotty’, for its slightly mad composition.

Dominating the collection is a single trumpet of Asiatic lily ‘Yellow County’, with dahlias ‘Top Totty’, ‘Dorothy Rose’, Nuit d’Été’ and a spidery red one proving major back up. Minor roles were played by Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ and ‘Cherry Brandy’, herbaceous Clematis ‘New Love’, Persicaria ‘High Society’, Helichrysum ‘Rose Pink’, Limonium (statice) ‘Purple Attraction’ , a nameless (because it is buried in foliage in the middle of a border) phlox and spikes of heuchera. There may well be others I have failed to mention but studying the overhead shot below I can’t see any.*

The clematis, phlox, persicaria and heuchera are reliably hardy perennials, and all the others were easy to grow from seed, bulb or tuber. R ‘Cherry Brandy’ has not always germinated well and thrived, but this year has been completely trouble-free.

Joining the dotty vase are some dotty dice, saved from being plain coloured cubes by the addition of their useful dots. Props such as these dice are not compulsory for IAVOM posts, but they can add an additional element – of humour, history, or personal connection. Do join us today, with or without a prop, and leave links to and from this post so we can share the pleasure your vase is bringing you.

* I later spied a sprig of Verbena bonariense in there too

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Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, In a Vase on Monday, seed sowing | Tagged | 49 Comments

End of Month View: Who Stole July?

Having been casting a critical eye over the garden in the last few weeks I was wondering yesterday if I could incorporate my thoughts into an End of Month View post – and then I realised that the end of the month had been and gone! Even though there are certain August things I was aware of (and done!) my brain somehow hadn’t made the connection that July was over. But it is, and August is heading inexorably towards September and (dare I say it?) autumn…

My belated EOMV is therefore going to be quite minimal, and lacking the critical focus it might have had; it may also encompass tools and trugs, as there seem to be several tasks we are in the middle of, subject to the vagaries of August’s weather. You may not be able to see the sawdust on the paved area in the above photo, and this time the Golfer brought his power tools in when it started to rain, so you won’t see those either. Below, however, are some of the aforementioned trugs beside the streamside and shrub border:

Looking back towards the house from the other end of this last view:

Walking through the woodland towards the bothy:

Looking out at the main borders from the bothy, and the same borders from ground level:

The clematis colonnade:

The woodland edge border, from both directions:

The bold borders:

The cutting beds:

The blue & white border:

The rose garden:

Heading back towards the house, the snowdrop border and its white annuals:

A quick peek in the Coop:

At the back of the Coop, the shady border and the corner where the sink of miniature hostas will be moved to when I have finished building the new raised support for them:

So, there we have it, a quick gallop round the garden, devoid of comment or criticism which will come in a later post in due course. The one thing I noticed as I uploaded the photos is just how much greenery there is in the garden – to think that in two or three months a large proportion of that greenery will have gone, leaving just a skeletal framework in much of the garden. A winter garden has its own attractions though, and not just from those plants and shrubs and trees with seasonal benefits, but from the very starkness of that framework, and I shall take pleasure in rambling in this garden even in the deepest depths of winter.

Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | 21 Comments

Six on Saturday: Rather Chihuly at Kew

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Wordless Wednesday: Pineapple Princess?

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In a Vase on Monday: Jewels

How often do I have to photograph my Monday vase inside? VERY rarely, but yesterday was one of them and I apologise for the substandard photograph above. Non-stop light rain on Saturday was followed by non-stop heavier rain yesterday and although I was already soaked picking blooms for the vase I declined to get any wetter by photographing them outside. I am not complaining about the rain which is gratefully received, even though it meant little gardening being done this last week – firstly due to the heat and then to the rain. That’s British gardening for you!

Fortunately the view from above gives a better picture of the contents of the vase, their jewel-like colours placed in a pewter-effect Prinknash Pottery jug. A range of zinnias (Benary Giant Mix, Purple Prince and Art Deco Mix), my best ever showing now they have a bed almost of their own and sown in early February and mid March, earlier than many would recommend, are joined by Antirrhinum ”Liberty Classic Rose Pink’, another successful first for a taller snapdragon, and seedheads of nigella. Even the nigella was a success for the first time, so I must be doing something right! The rain had weighed down the heads of antirrhinum and before I could fill the jug I found myself doing a repair job with a section of wooden coffee stirrer and some florists’ tape, but it did the trick.

In the absence of any jewels of my own, another spot of DIY produced a crown from thin card and aluminium foil instead of crown jewels, but perhaps I needn’t have bothered as the similarity of nigella heads to crowns suddenly became apparent as I trailed the vase around the house looking for the lightest spot on this downright dull-but-not-dismal day.

I hope some of you will still feel it is worthwhile facing the heat or the rain for the time it takes to pick some blooms or other material to create a Monday vase; I may have got soaked, but I am now delighting in my crown jewels which will bring joy throughout the week whatever the weather does and whether or not I am able to get out and do some gardening. Just leave links to and from this post if you too would like to share a vase with the rest of us.

Posted in cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, seed sowing | Tagged | 45 Comments

July Blooms : Let’s Hear it For Lizzie!

I don’t care what anybody else thinks, but I for one am glad that Busy Lizzies are regularly available again and no longer the victim of downy mildew. In their absence I have tried their ‘posh’ replacement, New Guinea impatiens, but not very successfully and at a much greater cost. Bog standard Busy Lizzies will give you months of colour in sun or shade, rain or shine, and at £5.94 for 40 plug plants there is nothing to complain about and lots of pots that can be filled. I had a tray of 40 white ones too, for the snowdrop and blue & white borders, and could have done with a half tray of magenta ones if I had tracked them down instead of making do with several smaller packs.

What else has been bringing colour and joy to the garden in July, blooms I can share with you and other contributors to blogging friend Chloris’ monthly Top Blooms meme? Despite a temporary lull in rose blooms from most of my roses, Lady Emma Hamilton has been flowering her (presumably Georgian) socks off since the end of May, a great advert for buying container rather than bare-root roses as she and her twin arrived here in pots in mid-August last year:

July has been a wonderful month for my viticella clematis (excluding Gravetye Manor who puts such a huge effort into outdoing all other clematis for leafiness and is always slow to flower) and I have shown them several times. I do not have any favourites amongst them, but have been especially taken with C viticella ‘John Huxtable’ who has been bulking up nicely and, on an internal fence at the edge of the blue & white border, is flowering nearer eye level than most of the others:

In the cutting beds, dahlias have been holding the fort since early June, imposing in their height and solidness of colour. Again, I cannot profess to have any favourites but am particularly fond of ‘Dorothy Rose’ (left; new to me last year and by an uncanny coincidence sharing a name with an elderly friend of ours) and ‘Top Totty’ (right), grown from a cutting begged from the ‘dahlia man’ who lives on the same island as my Mum:

Also in the cutting beds are Scabiosa ‘Black Knight (left)’, the subject of Wednesday’s wordless post, and successfully sown for the first time this year. I have always found pictures of scabious like this fascinating, but the real thing was not only fascinating but HUGE (well, bigger than any scabious flower I have encountered), far bigger than I might have expected. Equally exciting is a fairly satisfactory crop of zinnia (below right is either Purple Prince or one of Benary Giant Mix). Now growing alongside sweet peas in what was once a token vegetable bed they are benefitting from having room to breathe, but I shall have to rethink the clump of rhubarb that still shares the bed…

Cosmos rarely fail me these days and Double Click Cranberries and Double Click Snow Puff have been doing their thing since May, unlike the adjacent Candy Stripe which has underperformed. Sneaking into the picture below are Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ and remnants of Clarkia ‘Double Mixed’:

Stars of the open garden visits and still stars now are an anonymous Astrantia major and bunny tail grass Lagurus ovatus:

Also a star throughout the season and probably listed in both May and June’s Bloom posts already is Lychnis coronaria, planted in several beds and seen here with allium seedheads, Anemanthele lessonii and one of my persicarias, possibly P ‘High Society’ (too wet to check!). Will I ever tire of this lychnis, or its white and bi-coloured cousins? I doubt it, however much they seed around…

Finally, one of several pots of lilies, mostly Asiatic, which have taken turns to flower over June and July – this is ‘Forever Susan’, new to me this year, and one of the most striking of my collection. I look forward to seeing Chloris’ top July Blooms as she will undoubtedly include some more unusual specimens that us lesser mortals have never heard of, but don’t let that put you off showing us yours and adding links to her post!

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 7 Comments

Six on Saturday: And Now For Something Completely Different…

…FOLIAGE, and some welcome rain and a 15-20°C drop in temperature!

For a number of years Christina of My Hesperides Garden hosted a monthly meme celebrating foliage, and it was this that made me begin to look at foliage in a whole new light. Instead of just acting as a backdrop for blooms in our gardens, foliage is invaluable in its own right, providing not just a green foil for a kaleidoscope of flowers but a rich tapestry of different colours, patterns and forms. When the opportunity arose to create a ‘shrub border’, back in 2014, choosing plants for their foliage attributes became an integral part of the decision making process for the first time.

Not new at the time, but moved to the shrub border from another part of the garden where it had been languishing, is Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’ (above) which responded favourably to the move. Apart from drooping occasionally in the heat (as most of us do) it makes a striking contribution to the border, aided by the adjacent Pittosporum‘Tom Thumb’ and Carex ‘Everillo’ :

In the shady border behind the Coop another pittosporum, this time P ‘Gold Star’ is clearly loving its position as it has more than doubled in size since it arrived a little over a year ago:

You may have seen the heucheras in the bronze bed (the theme arising from the presence of the Acer griseum and its peeling bark in the centre of the bed) a number of times already as they feature in one of my end of month views every month, but they really have been at their best this year, despite looking early in the season as if the whole bed needed sprucing up. Those planted in the borders have done well too, so I don’t know if the weather since last season has been especially to their liking. However, unlike those in the main borders which will have had a dose of manure, those in the bronze bed are covered in a slate ‘mulch’ and have had no such extra attention.

Despite the perennial risk of slug and snail damage, hostas must surely be the #1 choice of foliage plant in many of our gardens, spoilt for choice as we are with the variegation, size, shade and patterning of the innumerable varieties available. A perfect and un-munched hosta is undoubtedly a thing of beauty, exemplified here by H ‘Orange Marmalade’:

I seem to have neglected one of my earlier favourites this year, another variegated persicaria , this time P ‘Red Dragon’ with his gorgeous burgundy and silver patterned leaves. Cut down to size by the near-drought last summer he is but a shadow of his former self, but this is no bad thing as he did have a tendency to sprawl languorously over a large part of the woodland edge border, with little concern for other residents. Mind you, the epimedium at his feet, originating from a single plant in a 9cm pot, has made himself too much at home and deserves to be partially culled once I have researched appropriate woodland edge plants to fill the gaps. In the meantime, his shiny green leaves are a joy to behold.

Finally, one plant that foxed many visitors to our garden on the open days was this Clematis armandii; not surprisingly perhaps, as its large long and pointed leaves are unlike those of any other clematis. Also, as a winter flowering clematis, at this time of year it is purely a foliage plant and, tucked into the corner of the new shady bed just over a year ago, its dark green glossy leaves have extended two complete fence panels in either direction, another plant that is clearly happy in its location. Not surprisingly I am thrilled with its happiness and will be delighted if it flowers along the full extent of its lovely leaves in the early months of next year.

So, that’s six clumps of attractive foliage from me this Saturday; to share more Saturday Sixes please visit Jon the Propagator.

Posted in foliage, Gardening, Gardens, shrubs, Six on Saturday | 16 Comments