Sizzling in June

Chloris of The Blooming Garden invites us to share our top ten blooms each month but June is one of the many months when selecting just ten is an impossible task, especially when we have already featured some of the stars on our blogs. Some of my ten will therefore be also-rans or dependable stalwarts, stars in their right even though there are shinier stars in the garden.

Many of the roses are having a rest, not so ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ above, nor rambler ‘Anne Marie Viaud’ below (hmm, is that a pile of bricks I see….? Sure is…there must a project brewing!):

I have shown some very starry clematis in the last week or two and I have been pleased to find others that have done little for a few years but are suddenly flowering. Others are vigorous and reliable, like ‘Etoile Violette’ (this one climbing into Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’, which you can see has been fitted with a tight corset), Prince George’ and ‘Blue Angel’:

June has seen several pots of lilies in flower, all of the Asiatic type, and having tried them in the ground but with little success, I stick with pots. Here we have ‘Yellow County’ and ‘Rosella’s Dream’:

I have not seen this salvia on other blogs, but am really pleased with its performance, especially as it sailed through the (albeit mild) winter without protection: Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’, which I bought at a local NGS open garden two years ago.

Having shown the scented leafed pelargonium in the Coop fairly recently, blooming over a long season, I thought I would share Pelargonium ‘Surcouf’ instead, a gloriously bright ivy-leaved variety which will also flower for months. We came back from a trip to the Isle of Wight last September with cuttings of this from blogging friend Jenny of Duver Diary, now filling a pot.

Since last year, one of my go-to bedding plants is argyranthemum or marguerite, which justifies being included in several pots, on its own or in a mix; with deadheading and sufficient watering and feeding they will continue flowering all season. This one is Argyranthemum ‘Grandaisy Pink Halo’:

I have had sweet peas flowering throughout June, firstly the greenhouse ones which have been in bloom since early April and the outdoor ones which began flowering on June 1st. The former are still doing OK but have suffered in the recent searing heat and will be removed in a week or two, but the ones below (Gwendoline and King George VI) are barely reaching their peak and those on the other support structure are only just coming into bloom, so there are many more weeks of glorious sweet peas to come.

The cutting beds are building up to their raison d’être and several of the inhabitants are now in bloom, but the first were the cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus, and with regular picking and deadheading they will continue to flower over a long period. I grow ‘Black Ball, white and ‘Blue Boy’ but the packet of Black Ball seeds seems to have been mixed instead as there are some oddments amidst the dark maroon blooms. Growing the three types adjacent to each other I don’t mind the mix too much in these circumstances!

The ninth star is actually a combination, but one that never fails to delight, in one of the bold borders: Salvia ‘Neon’, Lychnis coronaria and one of the magenta geraniums, probably G psilostemon. The salvia is pretty hardy although I always take cuttings anyway, but thought I might have lost it last winter as there was a sharp frost after I had cut it back; in a few weeks though there were signs of new fresh growth even lower down and I just cut it further back since when it has come back just as well and vibrant as any other year. Sadly, the photo does not do the combination justice, particularly in the bright sunlight.

My final selection is almost an afterthought, another rose, sadly almost always an afterthought: R ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’. I was reminded of it when up the ladder yesterday cutting branches off the amelanchier, looking wonderful against a clear blue sky. Totally reliable and undemanding, it seems to thrive on the neglect it suffers.

That’s my ten for this month – next month dahlias, zinnias and sunflowers are sure to feature somewhere along the line, with the first two already beginning to flower in the cutting beds. Thanks to Chloris for hosting the meme.

Posted in container & basket plants, cutting beds, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens, roses | 7 Comments

Scarlet Tigers, Whims and Being Thick

I was working through my list of garden tasks today and had just about finished deadheading, with tying in of clematis to follow, when I spotted this unusual visitor in the blue & white border. It took a fair amount of perusing our butterfly and moth book and a searching conversation with Google to determine for sure that it is was a Scarlet Tiger Moth. Mostly found throughout the south and west of England and Wales in damp wetland areas and coastal sites and flying in the daytime in June and July, sightings have increased further north and into the Midlands in recent years. They often lay their eggs on comfrey, which we do have in our garden, but it is far from being a wetland or coastal site!

Having paused by the blue & white border for longer than intended, on a whim I decided to cut out the stems of rose ‘Snow Goose’ that had finished flowering. Planted against the wall, it had been covered in blooms earlier but had become top-heavy and needed attention. A repeat-flowering rambler, I must have neglected to cut it back last year, but nevertheless have often thought that it wasn’t the best rose for this location anyway. It didn’t take long to cut it down to size and, seeing how well the Trachelospermum asiaticum was doing underneath it, I am now seriously considering taking the rose out altogether…a decision for another day.

The decision has been made about the aconitum, though, and that will be out as soon as it had finished flowering…

A whim is a dangerous thing when one has time on one’s hands, and last week I cut down the honeysuckle on one side of the lychgate, albeit on the basis that similarly severe attention given to another honeysuckle following aphid infestation produced lush new growth the following year. Hopefully, the result will be equally successful, and in the meantime it looks so much better without all that woody growth.

Tomorrow Rambling Rector will be tackled – but not on a whim as this is a routine maintenance task by which time we could have filled our garden refuse bin three times over!

And finally, ‘being thick’…many gardeners may not appreciate just how chuffed I am with my outdoor sweet peas, but this really is the first time I have grown any that are anything other than barely flowering spindly specimens. Instead of trying to grow them on the fence down the side of the cutting beds they have their own bed and purpose-built supports, and are rewarding me with prolific blooms and the thickest of stems, the latter a sure sign of healthy plants.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, pruning, roses, Wildlife | Tagged | 11 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: if I Were a Bird…

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In a Vase on Monday: Bright Eyes

Today’s vase started with two large red grown-from-seed dahlia blooms, with their bright yellow eyes, and was developed around the theme of ‘bright’, but when it came to arranging them they dominated the rest of the blooms because of their size, so I replaced one of them with Clematis ‘Ville de Lyon’, a clematis I know has a good vase life. Even so, the dahlia still looks a little big for its boots!

Joining the dahlia and clematis are Calendula ‘Snow Princess’ and ‘Indian Prince’, both looking better than every other year I have grown them, Cosmos ‘Popsocks’, Limonium ‘Purple Attraction’ (statice), Centaurea ‘Black Ball’ (cornflower), Antirrhinum ‘Liberty Classic Rose’ and, to fill in some gaps, side shoots from a delphinium. On the way back to the house with the pickings I spontaneously picked up a stem of meadow rue (wild thalictrum) that had been pulled out from one of the borders earlier and used the foliage to finish off the vase.

The vase itself is formed of black glass with a wavy upper edge and a lower section that normally contains a glass frog but I removed this and filled the space with biodegradable floral foam which meant the stems could be inserted at an angle.

Those of you who know your musicals will recognise the eyes from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’. This was probably the first modern musical I went to, way back in the early 90s, at the behest of Elder Daughter who knew the songs word for word despite her tender age at the time.

I saw a film of the production recently as part of Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Show Must Go On’ on YouTube, where he generously allowed the public to view six of his musicals at no cost – and what an exhilarating production it was, an improvement even on the original (what I remember of the original, that is).

With the coming of blooms in the cutting beds there should be a greater injection of colour into my Monday vases, with less dominance on the pinks and purples of springs – but every garden is different and it is always a pleasure to see what other gardeners have in their Monday vases. Whatever the colour, they are bound to bring pleasure into your life, and if you would like to share them with us too please leave the usual links to and from this post.

ps following on from my promise last week, I have given away six posies, a good start.

Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 41 Comments

Behind the Gate

Today was due to be the first of our three June openings for the National Garden Scheme, cancelled because of Covid 19, so in the absence of visitors I thought I would share some of the things they would have been seeing today, the highlights of the garden. The three clematis featured yesterday as part of Six on Saturday are certainly one of them ( C viticella, left to right, Rosalyn, Margot Koster, Madame Julia Correvan).

Many of the roses have suffered from recent wind and rain, but ‘New Dawn’ is following on from its exuberance last year with a repeat performance, and is a delightful pale pink, not the white it looks in the picture. Behind and above it rambler ‘Rambling Rector’ is still hanging on although impossible to photograph with the sun behind it.

Hostas have stood up fairly well this summer, although needed watering during the dryer months, and are fairly free of slug and snail damage:

Further down the garden, the little arbour with a bench and mirrored window has looked especially inviting with Strawberry Hill’ clambering over it, settling in well after its introduction a couple of years ago:

Turning 180° to look towards the back of the shed, rambler ‘Rosemarie Viaud’ is at peak flowering stage and is such a pretty shade of purple:

Swivelling round on the same spot visitors would also see the bronze heuchera bed and the Acer griseum, shown often on this blog. The heuchera have all spruced themselves up and filled out as the months have gone on.

In the blue & white border two appropriately coloured aconitum are stunningly in flower and I would normally have hung a little notice on them to warn visitors, informing them they are aconitum (and not delphiniums) and are poisonous. I have mentioned before that I even feel uncomfortable writing about them, which is daft as there will be other poisonous plants in the garden, and am beginning to consider removing them, not just because of their toxicity, but because of their height too, as they dominate the border. They do produce attractive blooms though, especially the blue varieties, and their early spring growth, a shapely feathery mound, is a joy to behold. Sounds like decision time…

Beyond the wall you can see behind them is the fruit cage, the working greenhouse and the cuttings beds. The latter have been fully planted up since mid May and are filling out on a daily basis, with cornflower, cosmos, calendula and sweet peas in bloom, and buds on many more which no doubt will be encouraged to open in the hotter temperatures forecast for midweek. One of the unexpected joys when the cutting beds were first introduced was the pleasure to be gained from the sheer abundance and colour of the contents, no doubt experienced too by any visitors to the garden.

Visitors usually exclaim over the proliferation of allium, whether in fresh or spent bloom form, so they would enjoy these later flowering Allium ‘Miami’ and of course those massive A schubertii:

They might also appreciate the scented leaved pelargonium in the Coop, which seem to have responded to being repotted in fresh compost as they are more floriferous than they have ever been. They would certainly have appreciated a cup of tea and a piece of cake too but these like the visitors, were absent from the garden today.

A few NGS gardens are beginning to reopen for visitors with pre-purchased tickets so if you are in the UK please visit the NGS website to see if there are any opening near you – those opening for the coming week will be listed on the website tomorrow (Monday).

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, Visiting gardens & days out | Tagged | 20 Comments

Six on Saturday: a Good Year for Clematis?

Based on the display of these two and an adjacent clematis, and the number of buds on many more, I wondered if this year was turning out to be an especially good year for them – but when checking previous posts to remind me of the name of one of them I found I had posted equally floriferous pictures last year, albeit about three weeks later, so perhaps not.

Above we have C viticella ‘Rosalyn’ on the left and ‘Margot Koster’ on the right, the former seeming to create a curtain of colour as it hangs down from its support. I am particularly fond of ‘Rosalyn’, with her scruffy and unconventional blooms:

There are four viticella clematis along this pergola, all visible and readily admirable from our kitchen windows. The blooms on ‘Margot Koster'(below) are bigger and brighter, as are those of the more familiar ‘Madame Julia Correvan’ to her right:

‘Walenberg’, the fourth clematis on this structure, seems to have had a setback and sports only the tiniest of shoots, but is still alive.

Facing this pergola is another, smaller one, attached to the left hand side of the sitooterie, supporting climbing rose ‘Claire Austin’ and Clematis viticella ‘Blue Angel’. The latter was new for last season and although not quite flowering yet she has romped over the pergola and is covered in buds – she also needs tying in, again!

Further down the garden, the Golfer has kindly made some trellis to fit either side of the mirror under the clematis colonnade. Despite still having homes to find for some of the mystery clematis, I decided to move two existing ones instead – ‘Princess Kate’ was sharing a post with ‘Prince George’, whilst ‘Prince William’ was a new acquisition which had been allocated a spot nearby but not on the colonnade itself. Only planted a few weeks ago, the latter would be easy to move, but the former could be more risky.

I had already established that Kate’s new growth was not highly entwined on its support but, having been in situ for three or four years, digging her out could be more problematical and clematis stems are always fragile. However, with a more or less complete rootball and three lengthy stems still intact, the move proved to be surprisingly successful, although the droopy buds later in the day were a concern, largely rectified by a cooler evening and a good watering. There are no buds on William yet, but I don’t doubt that he will be in flower later, beside his wife (both C texensis).

I am sure Kate will be happier here, and in hindsight it was a mistake to have two summer flowering clematis on the same post, especially as Prince George really makes his presence felt, clothing the post with dense foliage which will be smothered in large and attractive ruffled white blooms in due course, as you can surmise from the photo below:

That’s my six (or thereabouts) this Saturday, and if you visit the blog of our SoS host Jon the Propagator you will find many more sixes from around the world.

Posted in climbers, Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday | Tagged | 22 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Sweet

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In a Vase on Monday: a Tussie Mussie and a Promise

A tussie-mussie or nosegay is a small posy, typically given as a gift and the concept has existed in some form since at least medieval times when they were carried or worn around the head or bodice.

When I picked the stems of my outdoor sweet peas, King George VI and Gwendoline (don’t they make a nice couple?), to form the basis of today’s vase, I was already thinking of it as a tussie mussie and adding alchemilla foliage and the fresh seedheads of a poppy that had seeded itself in the greenhouse just seemed to emphasise the traditional and old fashioned feel of it. As I snipped the sweet peas and thought how promising the cutting beds were looking and how important it was, especially with sweet peas, to keep cutting to prolong flowering, I determined in the absence of my usual pursuits to be pro-active and take little posies round to the people I would usually be seeing during the week.

Until I began to write this post and checked the definition I had forgotten that tussie mussies were originally given as gifts, so my plan was indeed serendipitous and I shall start with this very posy itself. As is often the case it looks better in real life than in the vase (Edinburgh Crystal cut glass) as the photographs do not suggest the balance of sweet pea colours that there definitely is; also, a couple of poppy heads that were overlooked were added later as well. The simple prop is a bow fashioned from a length of vintage lace.

Monday vases vary from simple posies to formal arrangements, in jam jars or cut glass, and there is pleasure to be had from any combination – and it doesn’t have to be flowers but could be foliage or twigs or all sorts of things that are not in a typical vase ‘box’. We would be delighted to share them all on IAVOM so please leave links to and from this post so we can see them too.

Posted in cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , | 38 Comments


… if you are in the UK, there will be a garden opening for the National Garden Scheme this week.

Most gardens, like ours, that would normally be opening for the scheme this summer are no longer doing so for a range of Covid-19 related reasons, and potential visitors to gardens still opening can only visit by pre-paid and timed tickets available directly from the NGS at Garden owners have to decide how many visitors their gardens can accommodate with adequate social distancing and how long a typical visit would last, and the timed slots allow for the coming and going of visitors to prevent overlap. Details of gardens opening in the coming week will be available each Monday, so do check and see if there are any opening in your area. And don’t forget there are numerous virtual visits on the website too! The NGS supports several charities but this year is focussing on nursing charities and, in the absence of income from hundreds of gardens that are no longer opening, any donations would be especially welcome, with or without a garden visit, virtual or otherwise.

We visited a real garden today, the only one open this week within reasonable driving distance, arriving in baking hot sunshine after travelling through torrential rain to get there. This didn’t last, and in an instant the skies opened again amidst the sunshine and there was a deluge – without which we would not have had that astonishing rainbow! By then. we had already wandered around the acre or so of garden and the extensive adjoining woodland, so after sheltering briefly we headed home, I for one happy to have partaken of a rare spot of garden visiting.

Posted in Gardens, open gardens, Visiting gardens & days out, woodland | Tagged | 14 Comments

Six on Saturday: at the Bottom of the Garden

Most of today’s Six are at the bottom of the garden, the ‘working end’ with the greenhouse, cutting beds and fruit cage, so in the absence of a theme or better title we have the unimaginative one above.

I feel duty bound to celebrate climbing rose ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’ at least once a year, because it makes no demands on me except for some severe pruning early in the year when the hips are no longer looking attractive, yet flowers profusely and continuously for months – and if I don’t remember to look UP I often forget it’s there, which is a shame. It looks especially good from the cutting bed side, peering (the rose, not the viewer) over the wall, a view not quite as attractive since we added the tap and associated hose.

I am really pleased with the netting we added to the cutting beds which is already showing how effective it is. My cornflowers have never remained vertical before and although some plants won’t make it to the second row of netting those that do will be all the better for it – things like these cornflowers, amaranthus, cosmos, ammi and zinnias in particular. Even the shorter plants are already benefitting from the first level of netting and my only concern, that the netting might look obtrusive, has proved to be unfounded as the black netting is easily camouflaged by the foliage.

In the adjacent working greenhouse, following the example of Karen of Bramble Garden I have sown some more sweet peas, to continue from my existing outdoor ones when they start flagging. I have never sown them as late as this before and shall be interested to see how they do, and rather than buying new seed I have sown some from a fairly elderly packet (I probably sowed the originals in 2017) instead and seem to have had had 100% germination. I usually clear out partially used packets after two years with no reduction in germination, but won’t hang onto these any longer.

Outside, sweet peas ‘King George VI’ and ‘Gwendoline’ are now providing enough blooms for regular picking and nearby there is a pot of dwarf sweet pea ‘Sugar ‘n’ Spice’ which I am trialling for Which? Gardening. I am always uninspired by dwarf varieties as they tend to be too small to make any impact and it doesn’t look as if these will trail at all, so I can’t visualise where they would be useful, except perhaps round the base of something else in a big pot.

In the adjacent fruit cage I have now found a few sawfly on the raspberries too, but because they have started with the bottom leaves I can get down on my knees and inspect the reverse of nibbled leaves and squash any that I find, but this is unlikely to be comprehensive enough to stop the spread. A friend has recommended an old traditional remedy of bruising elderberry leaves and spraying a solution mixed with some slivers of soap, which is easy enough to try, and I have ordered some neem oil too – the latter works by confusing them so they forget how sawfly larvae should behave, including how to eat. Sounds good to me!

Elderberry has some jolly useful attributes, and following my first attempt at elderflower cordial earlier in the week I now have 8 little bottles of the stuff*. I have to confess to preferring my water neat, but I am hoping the Golfer’s sweet tooth will encourage him to drink it in some quantity. I have at least achieved what I set out to do, even if it is the only time I make the stuff*, which it may well be!

We had to head back to the house to look at this, so we may as well see how the recycled cow drinkers are doing while we are down there. Following a comment on this blog, we decided to use one of them as a bird bath and this is mounted near some of our bird feeders although not directly underneath. Sadly it is too low to see it from the windows, but at least the birds will be able to bathe in private!

The second one is on the wall of the house, almost opposite to this one, and houses a hosta relocated from a pot which, despite using a spirit level, the photographs suggest has not been mounted completely level. There are several hostas grouped along this part of the wall, having been moved from the opposite side last year, although with the overhang of the gutters this sadly now makes it a drier position and additional watering has been needed. The wall also provides an easy route for snails, which seem to be the main threat this year as the nematodes appear to have done their job on the slugs, although damage has been fairly minimal. Perhaps our resident hedgehogs are helping too…

Jon the Propagator invites us to share six things from our garden each Saturday, so do pop over to his blog to see his six and links to many others.

*delectable fragrant cordial

Posted in cutting beds, fruit, garden pests, Gardening, Gardens, pests and weeds, Six on Saturday | 21 Comments