Six on Saturday

All of a sudden, the garden has exploded into life and everywhere I look there is beauty and chaos in equal measure. Euphorbia palustris and Viburnum plicatum enjoying the first rays of early morning sunshine.

Originally, I had both the violet and white Hesperis matronalis but in recent years the violet disappeared. It now seems it may be making a slow comeback as this white is showing definite pink tendencies!

Neillia thibetica is a tough flowering shrub which should be in more gardens. Its pretty pink flowers are fleeting but the dense thicket of fresh green foliage provides a good way of hiding ugly fences, sheds or buildings. Not something to stand and admire, just useful.

The early flowering Wisteria sinensis ‘Prolific’ came through the spring frosts unscathed for a change and the air was laden with its sweet scent for a week or so. Still very immature but living up to its name!

The first Sweet Peas are flowering, this one being ‘Painted Lady’, one of the oldest varieties and still one of the prettiest in my opinion, understated in a simple two-tone pink and white.

Centaurea montana, pushing its way through the tangle of other foliage is a stalwart of the spring garden. Utterly reliable, wildflower which is a valuable source of early nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators.

Finally for this week, the simple beauty of Paeonia lutea, the yellow tree peony, which will flower in succession for several weeks. Now 2m tall and covered in buds.

Off to Eckington Village Open Gardens today, I love seeing other people’s gardens!

Have a great weekend


Six on Saturday

The garden is suddenly exploding into life thanks to the warm and wet conditions we are currently enjoying. This shrubbery with Viburnum plicatum and Euphorbia palustris make a fine show.

This Anthemis punctata softens the path edges and looks lovely backed up by the dark leaved Physocarpus ‘Diablo’. For a Mediterranean grey leaved plant, it certainly loves the rain!

Erysimum variegatum looking a bit straggly after the winter but flowering and sending out new shoots to flower later in the year. Reliable, bone hardy and easy from cuttings to replace these short lived perennials.

The alliums are a bit later this year but now about to burst into flower.

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ which seems to like its partly shaded position between the Philadelphus and the Thalictrums.

Finally, the first flowers of self seeded Hesperis matronalis ‘Alba’ which was originally grown many years ago from seed and now pops up wherever it feels like it. The violet version seems to have disappeared and just the white ones remain. The clove sweet fragrance on a warm summer evening is everything you could want from a scented plant. Mainly pollinated by moths I believe but enjoyed by many other pollinators too.

Enjoy your weekend


My Garden This Week

Unashamedly pinching an idea from other garden bloggers, I have decided to put up a selection of photos each week of the things I am most pleased with. These would not warrant a post of their own but deserve to be recorded and published for my records and others’ pleasure. So, in no particular order, a quick tour.Kolwitzia amabilis 'Pink Cloud'

The Kolwitzia amabilis ‘Pink Cloud’ commonly called the Beauty Bush is in full flower and laden with pink and white blossom. It only has a faint scent but the bees don’t seem to mind. It is absolutely buzzing.007

I love alliums and this Cristophii really captures the attention. It is not tall, perhaps 60 cm or so but the flower head is a good 25 cm in diameter, a perfect circle of tiny star shaped flowers. How does it do that???017

The height and intense colour of Purple Sensation makes it stand out in the borders and I think it looks good paired with Nectaroscordum siculum, the Sicilian Honey Garlic, which is a major bee attractor and totally hardy. 021

The first red dahlia of the year is Arabian Night and what a stunner! Very early but one of the benefits of starting them off under glass.Gladiolus communis byzantinus

The gorgeous fuchsia pink of Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus, apparently a good old English cottage garden plant despite it’s obvious Mediterranean origins. I bought a 9 cm pot at Malvern last year with one bulb in flower and popped it into the front border. This year it came up strongly and with 7 separate flower spikes so it seems to naturalise and multiply well.009

It’s really difficult to get a good photo of this plant and despite several attempts this is the best I can do with my basic Nikon. It is Silene dioica ‘Firefly’, a cultivated double form of the roadside wild flower, Pink Campion. Very floriferous over a long period and fully 120 cm tall but needing support to stop it flopping. I put in some hazel twigs early which are now doing their job beautifully and inconspicuously. Schizanthus 'Angel Wings Mixed' 016

The annual Skizanthus and Sweet Rocket are providing some colour in the front border while the late summer perennials are preparing to put on their show next month. I have kept some wallflowers going as well for the same reason. I hate ripping them out in full flower, it seems such a waste. Anyway, it’s only tradition that they are removed to make way for summer bedding so they can stay a while longer.


Aquilegias have been fantastic this year. They have popped up all over the garden and in every shade of pink, purple and blue. I let them grow wherever they want because their slender stems always seem to fit in and never get in the way of other things. This incredible self-sown hybrid has an amazing number of flowers and is 120 cm tall. If only they had scent they would be the world’s favourite cottage garden plant.Geranium macrorrhizum & Aquilegias

In the back garden, the poor dry soil in front of the beech hedge doesn’t support much life but it has been colonised by Geranium macrorrizhum ‘Bevan’s Variety’, Geranium magnificum and hybrid Aquilegias. I don’t care if the path gets covered for a couple of months, we walk on the grass and in August they get cut to the ground when I trim the hedge and then they grow back in a few weeks and sometimes give me another show of flowers in October. One of the hardest working plants in the garden and the least fussy.Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow'

And just one more Aquilegia, this one is ‘Nora Barlow’ one of the Barlow series of cultivars which is truly perennial and comes back true every year. It lacks the ‘spurs’ of the hybrids and species  but has wonderful double flowers instead.

There is lots more about to happen. The Inula hookeri is in bud for the first time, the lilies are about to open and, best of all, we have started picking Sweet Peas!

First Frost

First Frosty Morning

The weather forecast said there might be a frost on Saturday night but just in exposed rural areas….they were wrong! We awoke to a hard frost and the tell-tale signs of tender plants grimacing in the early morning mist. Gradually, as the sun rose and the mist cleared, I realised this was the day to start the annual clearance.

It is an inevitable part of gardening with annuals and tender perennials that, sooner or later, they need to be lifted and either potted up, stored or composted. Most people seem to think that makes a garden ‘high maintenance’ but I just see it as part of the programme. If you want a colourful scented garden throughout the year, it comes at a small price. However, the payback is lots of wonderful composting material!

Even after so many years, I am still reluctant to dispose of plants which are still flowering like Cosmos, Nicotianas,  China asters and bedding dahlias but if I wait I will just be clearing away a soggy mushy mess instead. So, out I went, wheelbarrow, border fork and spade in hand and had a really good day. The weather was warm under a cloudless sky.

Schizostylis coccinea

Schizostylis coccinea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel better for it, the borders look fresh and ready for the next chapter and I now have somewhere to plant out the 50 Alliums I bought at Malvern, the Echinaceas and rudbeckias bursting out of their 5 litre pots, the Hesperis matronalis, Sweet Williams and Foxgloves grown from seed, the Delphiniums and Penstemons bought as plugs, and the various perennials I have collected from plant sales but had nowhere to plant them. Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights’, Schizostylis coccinea, two bargain half price Phormiums, shrubby Salvias ‘Hot Lips’ and ‘Royal Bumble’, Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ and last, but by no means least, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow is another day. Retirement has the benefit that I can spread tasks out a bit, they don’t all have to be done at the weekend, so now it is time to think, reflect, have a glass of wine and plan ahead. I might get the seed boxes out of the fridge and dream of next year’s promise, all those wonderful treats to come!