An evening in May

May evening 008

The garden looked amazingly tidy and beautiful yesterday evening after I had cut the grass. Time to rest on laurels for a minute or two? (And to notice that our walnuts are finally coming into leaf –  have to make sure I join in with Lucy’s June ‘Tree Following’ now that I have something that looks vaguely different to photograph!)

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The Rose Walk looks great from up on our guest bedroom balcony, and gets better the closer you move.

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But I’m really finding it terribly difficult to photograph. It’s so pretty at the moment with its fennel, alliums, irises and Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’, but doing it justice seems almost impossible due to the light and the fact that if you photograph it early in the morning your shadow falls across it.

It’s literally a long, narrow little pathway where the roses actually move up to meet your nose so that you can appreciate them at first hand. The roses don’t seem to be bothered by much black spot, in spite of the close planting. Funnily enough it’s free-standing, less cramped roses elsewhere also show signs by now.

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The poor white clematis on the tripod in the  picture above has, sadly, succumbed to the wilt. I don’t know its name, but I’m glad I captured it before the end. It was in the garden when we first arrived in September 2011, and seems to do this every year, then manage to revive itself. I wonder if it needs firmer support (bit like me!)? Perhaps it wobbles too much in the wind?

The borders are busting with alliums – can’t resist them and will continue to add to the collection – probably A. christophii next year. They look so good with the bronze fennel and the colours of the two together are just about my favourite garden combo.
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Here with Iris ‘Gypsy Beauty’ – the Dutch iris are really useful in a border. Don’t get in the way, just suddenly surprise you by popping up and pleasing when you want them.Inspiration 321

One May morning 070Early morning is when Rose Walk looks most like my dream border – but, as I’ve said, it’s also harder to photograph without capturing your own shadow nicely.
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The roses in the Rose Walk are just getting into their stride, although elsewhere, against walls, they have been flowering for some time. But I thought I’d share two.
‘Munstead Wood’ is constantly the most reliable, longest flowering, most beautiful I grow. Are you growing a rose that wins hands down on beauty and reliability?Inspiration 212
Last year I added ‘William Shakespeare’ and couldn’t tell the difference between it and MW. Now I can and ‘Munstead Wood’ remains my favourite (they are both David Austin roses).
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From the Rose Walk you can look up to vigorous ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ against the wall. She’s a bit choked by wild flower growth. (I won’t say ‘weeds’ – in May I adore them, even the ones I hate when I later try to remove their seedlings!)
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In the Iris Garden there are two roses flowering at the moment. This picture is of the garden before we added our lovely new table and celebrated with some friends last Sunday night.

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On the end wall, the shorter of the two,  is ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, one of my favourites for the perfect quartering, but showing in my picture that she didn’t really like the wet weather we had at the beginning of May. The flowers are doing that annoying ‘balling’ thing.
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I think you have to learn a rose’s character before you know how to prune and train it against a wall. I haven’t quite got there with ‘Souvenir’, but I seem to have managed it with ‘Blairii No. 2’, flowering on the longer wall behind the two chairs.
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I’ve moved down from the Rose Walk to what we called the Long Border. It has to act as a bit of a backdrop for the Rose Walk and really aggressive things that look good with the roses, but are too big in bed with them, are allowed to self-seed down here. For instance the Dame’s Violet or Hesperis matronalis.
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This border really started life in 2013 as a nursery ground for plants I’d raised from seed, but now I’m starting to ask it to get on with it’s real life’s work – a later flowering herbaceous/shrub border. This year a few heleniums, monarda and grasses have been added and I’ll build on that.
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I’m heavily into giant plants and really enjoying the effect that these Angelica sylvestris that I grew from seed are having as they tower up around the hazels. What I’m not enjoying so much is the yellow of Asphodeline lutea with the pink of the young weigelas, scheduled to move elsewhere in the garden. Inspiration 151
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The poppies are allowed in here, although I’m managing to get tougher in the Rose Walk. And I seem to be having great success with Agrostemma githago, here photographed in the Rose Walk, but I’d quite like it to leap over into the Long Border and get on with it there as well.
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It’s the first flowering for one of my grass favourites, also grown from seed, Stipa gigantea.
I can look over the edge of the Long Border down at the Hornbeam Gardens. They may look like nothing, but I’m pretty excited. There was no garden here before – et voila!
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To the right of the scruffy path I have dahlias (dark purple foliage in the pictures) coming up in front of the delphiniums and asters. At the top of the dahlia edging there’s a random mix of calendula, Salvia hormium and nigella which seems to be doing well – and could look very pretty.

To the left, the sweet peas are the best I’ve had here and the cut flowers (aside from one sunflower variety planted too close to the hornbeam hedge) are doing well. I didn’t get any germination from some Hardy Plant Society seed of Ammi majus, but fortunately the Ammi visnaga are doing well.
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Evening drawing on and the garden still looks neat and tidy when I look over from the top down at the lovely new, blue pergola Nick is slowly creating.
And he’ll be surprised to see that I’ve added the photo he took of his friend scurrying around at dusk.
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And, finally, a longshot of the whole valley and the chateau grounds looking tranquil in the evening light. Yes, the garden definitely looks better with a glass of wine in the hand, rather than a fork (for a change).
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I’m using this post as my effort for Helen’s ‘End of month meme’ at the Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Do nip over and have a look at what everyone else is doing when she posts on Sunday.

35 thoughts on “An evening in May

  1. Julie

    Cathy, your garden has sprung into life and looks wonderful, you must be very proud of your hard work and what a difference from the last time we saw these views. Your photography is lovely too.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks for the compliments! It always seems such a short time in spring before there’s bare earth and then it’s all covered, doesn’t it?

  2. mattb325

    The garden looks absolutely beautiful – those long views are really spectacular, the roses climbing along the stone walls are a perfect complement, but I really love the featheriness of the fennel and nigella around the rose border – it is like froth and is wonderful!

    1. Beatrix everett

      Cathy, you are a miracle worker/gardener! What you have achieved in such a short time… Fantabulous. Beatrix

    2. Cathy Post author

      Matt – I’ve been having a little trouble replying to you. Don’t know what’s not behaving. But thanks so much – the fennel and the nigella are my favourites too!

  3. bittster

    Fantastic. If these are your ‘difficult’ photos, then I can’t imagine what the good ones will look like!
    I’m so glad you found the time to do an update, it’s amazing how far your gardens have come along in such a short time, and on top of all the growth your combinations and selections are really exceptional. Don’t let me visit, I’m afraid I would stay far too long.
    I see a glimpse of the new table in your first photo. It looks great and I hope you will be enjoying many an hour relaxing with a glass of wine there as well.
    Can’t wait to see the new pergola, there’s a good possibility I will be stealing that idea!

    1. Cathy Post author

      You would be so welcome to come and relax and enjoy our new table! Acquiring it seemed to be the first stage in a new kind of social life. We never imagined the time we would spend down there!

  4. jenhumm116

    Cathy, this all looks magnificent! There is sooo much to see and admire. And lovely too for me to see Rosa Munstead Wood looking stunning as I’ve just planted two in my one of my new beds.
    Definitely time to take a break and admire your hard work – cheers!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I don’t think you’ll regret ‘Munstead Wood’ (if that’s the colour you love – and I do!). I’ve planted about 39 roses here so far in 4 years and I love many, many of them – but that’s the one that consistently gives me pleasure, no matter the weather or what anything else is doing!

  5. Chloris

    Your garden looks stunning, thanks for the tour Cathy. What a lot you have achieved. I love your colour schemes and the thoughtful way you have grouped your plants. Lovely photos which really give a feel for the place. We are a bit behind you here the roses have hardly started.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks for the compliments, Chloris. I am feeling pleased this year. And I look forward to vicariously sniffing your roses!

  6. sophos

    So pretty, such abundance, yet – yes – very neat and tidy! I’m really enjoying following your garden. Now I think I need something silvery grey for the balcony…

    1. Cathy Post author

      So glad you are enjoying – I know I always enjoy your balcony (although am a bit rushed off my feet to have visited recently). Looking forward to your touches of silvery grey.

  7. Island Threads

    Cathy your garden looks beautiful, I love your rose walk, it must smell divine too with all the mix of aromas and perfumes, I can understand your joy when looking at the part of your garden you carved out of nothing, I know the feeling and sometimes when I feel I’m getting no where I remind myself of what it was like before I started, I love the misty photo with the alliums and nepeta, enjoy your wine and garden, Frances

    1. Cathy Post author

      Frances – thanks for your kind comments. Yes, I think we all deserve regularly to remind ourselves of how much we’ve created out of nothing. And blogging – both as a diary for ourselves and the nice feedback we get from others – really helps, doesn’t it? Enjoy your own garden and wishing you lots of sunshine!

  8. gardeninacity

    Just wonderful. I love the roses against the old stone wall, and all those plants that catch the light. Also the Alliums, Nigella, ‘Seven Hills Giant’ are fantastic together – and you can’t have too many red poppies (so be careful pulling them out).

    1. Cathy Post author

      Your reminder about weeding too much is very appropriate Jason! Perceptive of you! The poppy reds look so perfect with the blues and bronzes that I always think of an area that Monty Don (do you know of him – gardening presenter on BBC?) calls the ‘Jewel Garden’ at his own place. The touch of red seems to make the other colours sparkle.

      1. Cathy Post author

        Ah well … I think he used to make jewellery – he wrote a book about his Jewel Garden. Now presents our Friday night dose of gardening on the BBC’s ‘Gardener’s World’

  9. Annette

    Just beautiful and the setting is quite magical. Can’t get over how much the garden has changed and things have grown in such a short period. Hope you find plenty of time to emjoy it with a glass of wine 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks Annette – enjoying it is our priority, now that we are over the horrors of the first two years with everything being eaten!

  10. Helen Johnstone

    Oh I think I might book myself into your B&B next summer just to smell all the roses – I could almost imagine their scent looking at the photos. It is beautiful, you must be so proud of the garden.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Helen – you must have second sight! We are not yet a B&B, but that’s the way we are going. Hopefully next year. But you’d always be most welcome.

  11. rusty duck

    Oh it looks wonderful! How I envy all your colour and the look of an established garden. And I can only imagine the wonderful fragrance. Sigh. One day!


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