A friend recently commented that the Mirror Garden was so ‘colourful’ … I was a bit cast down by that, because I had wanted to build on what we inherited there (the box hedging and my little dumpling box shapes) and make a very serene garden in green, grey and yellow. (The grey foliage is provided by Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ & A. ‘Lambrook Silver’, just cut back in the pictures.)
The outlook over the valley is so exquisite that it would be a shame to interfere with it.
Maybe I haven’t succeeded, but the Mirror Garden remains one of my favourite places in spring, mostly on account of the young growth on the box and the flowering euphorbias, which are properly up and running now. They are E. characias subsp. wulfenii and E. characias subsp characias, courtesy of Hardy Plant Society Seed.
Just coming into flower on the tower behind my blue pot in the picture below is Rosa banksiae lutea. It grows like a weed – thank goodness.
Below the Mirror Garden in the Rose Walk I find photography much more difficult. It’s looking good at the moment – but it’s never very photogenic. And unfortunately I chose to shoot it when the grass and baby box balls hadn’t been cut, which doesn’t help much.
For the first time this year I managed to get my bulb order in fast enough to buy Narcissus ‘Jenny’ and ‘Jack Snipe’. There have been no daffs in the Rose Walk since I planted it in 2012, and I knew I wanted white flowers before the tulips. Owing to the cool weather, I enjoyed them for what seemed like weeks – they’ve only just left us.
Hard on their heels came the tulips. In the front portion of the walk (which is divided into four) I’ve got ‘Queen of the Night’, ‘China Pink’ and ‘Sorbet’ combined.
The ‘Sorbet’ added in autumn 2015 have been a little strange. The first bulbs I bought in 2012 had a white edge to the leaf and a quite a strongly reddish ‘flame’ on the tepals. Last year’s additions (I leave them in the ground and add a few more every year) are very pretty, but much more pastel in colour and no white edge to the leaf.
Will the real ‘Sorbet’ please stand up? I need to do some research. You’ll notice in the pictures that because I leave my tulips in the ground I end up with smaller, more graceful flowers. Not to everyone’s taste, but certainly to mine. I love to see plants growing as if they were in a meadow, not standing up to attention like my slaves.
Unfortunately, I have now learnt that my habit of jamming everything in together in these borders is not entirely healthy. The tulips are followed by lots of alliums, nepeta and the roses: then everything falls rather quiet during the summer, although I’d like to start adding penstemons as well. There’s even the odd camassia jostling with the rest.
But this year, for the first time (we’ve had a wet spring, welcome in so many ways), there’s been tulip fire in the borders. At the far end where ‘Sweet Harmony’ is planted with a pastel mix from 2012 I had to dig up quite a lot of bulbs. Whoever first recommended that you should burn them? I’d have to leave them to dry out in the sun somewhere first, surely? At the moment they are definitely not drying out, but lying in a storeroom in plastic sacks. (Probably rotting – the smell will draw me in to sort them out!)
It seems that all is quiet on the Western tulip Front now – and I’ve been taught a lesson. My tulip greed has got to be limited for the sake of the plants. Either that or do without them for three years.
Walking round the corner of the Rose Walk down to the Long Border another difficult-to-photograph sight greets me. Is this actually because my borders are badly planned? Perhaps – but I think that what they really need is a bit more structure (to counter-balance my natural tendency for border madness). The Rose Walk would benefit from a paved walkway instead of a grass path, the Long Border from, perhaps, a low hedge at the front?
The first tulips to greet you are ‘Westpoint’ and ‘Flaming Spring Green’. Disappointingly some of the flowers of the latter haven’t exactly flamed as I wanted – but I’m getting used to them now.
Further along a little patch of Apricot Parrot that I had up on the Supper Terrace in pots last spring.
This year the cheapskate gardener bought a Lidl mix for the same pots called ‘Night & Day’ (below). I think it might be a combination of ‘Queen of the Night’ and ‘Shirley’ (with a slightly pinkish rim to the tepals).
And finally the tulip that’s really had me struggling with my new camera – a nameless red lily-flowered acquired in Lidl three years ago. (Can anyone hazard a guess?) Grown with ‘Attila’ (purple).
Now I love my new DSLR, but my pea-brain has still to fathom its complexity.
I kept thinking when I looked at the pictures of my red tulip that I’d got the colour balance wrong.
There was something garish, luminous, almost unearthly about them. Yesterday I decided that they really are that colour … lovely in a border, but more shocking on a computer screen!
Here it’s a case of ‘the rain it raineth …’ at the moment. I had just finished digging, planting and strimming the Hornbeam Gardens when this is what happened.
When you start to divide herbaceous perennials for the first time, as I have this year, you know you are really gardening at last. Although I’ve gardened on clay before and the garden here is very warm, I’ve never known plants to establish as slowly as they do at Châtillon. There are roses that I’m still talking to sweetly after three years in the ground … but, yes, I’ve finally made a garden!
And over the garden wall, in the chateau grounds, the apple trees are flowering …