Category Archives: Roses

In a vase on Monday

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I was SO not going to take part in Cathy’s meme, ‘In a Vase on Monday’, at Rambling in the Garden today.  I promised myself a quick peek at everyone else’s vase this evening and was quite content.

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Then I sprinted at high speed around my weedy plot with a camera and saw three things that pleased me a lot and inspired me to do a vase anyway.

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The first thing I saw, Rose ‘Veilchenblau’, is already a little on her way out. Unappreciated, poor thing. Since I know that we have only limited time in our house here, due to the difficulty of the garden for an older person, I’ve planted some of my favourite roses (50 in all since 2012) here and there amongst the monster weeds.

They will take time to settle. I promise myself that in the next year or so I’ll get on top of the weeds – and then I’ll have 15 odd years to enjoy. The tactic does work, I promise you! Although it’s probably the reverse of what every other gardener does.

‘Veilchenblau’ is a perfect example, struggling with grass, nettles and the virginia creeper that adores our old walls so much. This is the first year (after 4) that she’s really flowering properly. Here she is in her weedy bower!

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The second things I saw were the sweet little spikes of what I believe is short-lived perennial Digitalis lutea. I had a lovely little tray of seedlings from a friend in 2015 and they are settling nicely. Must save seed this year.

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Third pretty thing was Knautia macedonica – mental note to self, be more brutal! It’s a sweetie, but currently making the lower Hornbeam Gardens even more of a mess than should be the case.

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Who is responsible for this mess?

It didn’t do well higher up in the garden, but here it is taking over the shop. At first there was pleasure at the seedlings, now I’m kicking myself.

I also added the first decent flowers I’ve had of Scabiosa caucasica since it, too, was planted in 2015.

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Et voila!

I’ll look forward to enjoying the links to everyone else’s vases at Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden later in the day. Now I’ll get on and do the work that I was supposed to be doing when I got up this morning. (The weeding will, sadly have to wait!)

I hope this week brings some happy moments in your garden!

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Tuesday View

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Raining heavily this morning and so, after a two-week pause, I’ve the leisure of time to contribute again to Cathy’s ‘Tuesday View’ meme at Words and Herbs.

Unfortunately the Asphodeline lutea more or less came and went during my time away from the garden. When I arrived back there were still some spikes looking good, but I didn’t get my camera out fast enough. Lazy, lazy … and the same lazy gardener is late again cutting the grass.

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Also making an appearance – some rather nice yellow irises and a newly planted Achillea ‘Moonshine’. I’m bound to lose the latter after a couple of years, so must make sure I propagate it next spring to keep it going in the garden. Did you know that it was one of the 5 plants that the late, great Alan Bloom was most proud of introducing? The rose just off centre right is the first to flower properly in the border, ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’.

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Berries of Asphodeline lutea

Now there are only the bright green berries and a few small yellow starry flowers of the asphodel left. I do enjoy their effect in the Long Border, so a bit sad, but there’s always next year.

The roses had a frosting in early May, and lost quite a few buds, so they are really only just coming back into their own. Moss rose, ‘William Lobb’ was the exception. We call this the ‘monster’ rose at Chatillon. I keep cutting it back after flowering, but it persists in sending up long ungainly shoots for next year’s flowers.

Unfortunately it blooms at the same time as a bright orange hemerocallis that I inherited when we moved into the garden. The hemerocallis are definitely scheduled for removal this autumn because another year with the colour clash is going to give me a headache!

I wish I liked hemerocallis more. They do really well here, with the heat and the clay soil, but I have an aversion to their rather heavy flowers. Must work on changing that … Learn to love what loves you!

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Mossy little buds of ‘William Lobb’ – the one known as ‘Old Velvet Moss’. It’s an incredibly healthy rose – just a tad over-vigorous!

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‘William Lobb’ never behaved as badly in a previous garden where I had it planted. A much more dignified tall shrub.

Looking in the opposite direction down the border, I hope you can make out at the very far end against the wall Rose ‘Ghislaine de Feligonde’?

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The peachy blooms of Ghislaine are in the top left corner of the photo.

The rose is not actually in the border itself, but growing against the garden wall. Last year, with all our rain at rose time, it was a washout. Fabulous show this season to make up for it.

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I missed my chance to cut the four hazels in the Long Border back this February and, as a result, the herbaceous plants towards the front of the border are far more shaded out than I would like. Even the philadelphus planted on the bank have been rather over-shadowed by the hazels and we can’t really see their flowers properly.

I’ve coppiced the four hazels in the Long Border once, three years ago, when I first dug and planted the border. Since they are too big this year, I think it might be worth reducing that to every 2 years – or perhaps stagger the coppicing? Cut back 2 hazels one year, another 2 the next?

If you gardened here, with all our fierce heat in the summer, you’d understand my reluctance to do such a regular coppice! (Never mind the fact that all that cutting and dragging is pretty heavy work.)

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I also seem to have lost some rather nice Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ divisions that went into the ground last spring. I’ve no idea what happened – how can large clumps of plants just disappear? Anyway – there we are! That’s gardening life. I’m more philosophical than I used to be!

Enough of the problems – there is one rather pretty feature that appeals to me this week. The curling flower stems (still in bud) of Veronicastrum virginicum are looking quite charming with the grass Calamagrostis ‘America’.

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Hopefully you can make out the tempting pleated spikes of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ foliage rising up behind and amongst Artemesia ‘Lambrook Silver’? I’m quite enjoying the spikiness of the border.

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Go over and have a look at everyone’s Tuesday views at Cathy’s Words and Herbs. And many thanks to Cathy for graciously hosting this lovely meme that gives us a reason to record one area of our garden every Tuesday – and exchange (virtually) plant ideas and tips!

Scottish Inspiration 2: Kellie Castle Garden

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It’s been a long, difficult winter – and a very long time since I blogged. Hopefully the winter’s treated you well?

Today I’m looking back at what now seems like a kind of golden era last summer, and remembering how much I love Scottish gardens.

Those who read my blog regularly (when I post!) may remember that last year I took a look at a garden in Fife called  Cambo that had developed a prairie-style planting within an old walled garden. Today I’m featuring a very different garden visited on the same day, just a little bit further around the coastline from Cambo.

Who could say, looking at Kellie, that borders of nepeta, roses and delphiniums are hackneyed? They are rightly popular because they are so easy on the eye, especially in this soft summer light.

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The garden at Kellie Castle is much more traditional than Cambo, the kind I remember visiting with so much enthusiasm when my gardening ambitions were only in bud. A garden that almost typifies the Scottish style.

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Cool climate, lots of rain, an incredible jungle of lush growth during those wonderful June and July days when the countryside pulls out the stops and shows you what it can do.

Nowhere (that I’ve ever visited) can do herbaceous borders – perennial delphiniums and phlox, biennials like sweet william, annuals like sweet peas – better than Scotland can. Fortunately I don’t despair, although I garden in what is (by comparison) incredible heat.

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Kellie Castle has been a National Trust for Scotland garden since 1970. You can read all about it here.  The earliest records of a castle on the site date back to 1150 and the Siward family, who owned the lands in the thirteenth century, have been linked to Malcolm Canmore, the Scottish king who overthrew Macbeth.

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James VI of Scotland and I of England stayed here in 1617 during his only visit to Scotland after the Union of the Crowns on 24 March 1603. It was he who appointed Sir Thomas Erskine (the then owner) Earl of Kellie, in gratitude for the fact that Erskine had saved his life during an earlier conspiracy against the king.

Of quirky interest is that the fifth Earl of Kellie is reputed to have hidden in a burnt-out tree stump in the castle grounds for the entire summer following the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The most highly cultivated part of the garden is  seventeenth century with late Victorian additions. There are several features that I particularly love.

The geometric lines of a walled garden always seem to beg for long walks that lead to definining focal points. The paths are narrow at Kellie, but their drama is not diminished by the proportion.

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And – as in the best gardens – plenty of areas to sit and enjoy.

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Some of the walks are in shade at the base of the main walls. Ferns and Aruncus sylvestris are really something to brag about. All that lovely soft rain.

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The climate is not kind to box, in our blight-afflicted era. But Scottish gardeners seem to battle on undeterred. Is there a lesson there for us all? The long, double (and very narrow) herbaceous borders are a case in point. I don’t really notice the box damage with the exuberance behind to draw the eye. But what will the damage be like in a few years’ time?

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The seedheads of the angelica really sing out against the billowing shapes behind it – and where would the form and sense of the planting be without the sharp lines of the box? Will they replace the box in years to come with something that will better tolerate close proximity to very tall border companions?

There are many plants in this border grouping that I think of as a bit thuggish on my own plot. Kellie Castle makes me think again. Goldenrod, Lysimachia punctata … Oh, and something to which I’m very partial: the pale yellow, fluffy flowers of Thalictrum speciossisum, rarely seen in such quantity.

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A double form of Geranium himalayense (at a guess) is a bit more special.

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The soil below is, as in all the best herbaceous borders, invisible. And here’s the secret of that incredibly tall – yet upright – growth in such a narrow space. A network of nylon webbing through which the plants grow in spring.

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I was going to try the same in my own delphium borders, which are backed by michaelmas daisies. And then I realised it would be impossible, since I want to get in to cut the delphiniums.

Sometimes the dividing line between herbaceous border and lawn has been created by roses grown as swags on metal supports. A pretty solution for boundaries in a formal garden.

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The organic vegetable plot doesn’t lack a decorative appeal either – and again, the path dressed with a rose-tumbled arch helps to pull the whole together.

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There’s the odd little accent I’d kill for in my own garden – we don’t often see these forcers in this part of France. But the Kellie collection of rhubarb varieties is pretty spectacular and deserves the ornament.

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And some quirky little trained fruit trees in an open area at the bottom of the garden.

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Tropaeolum speciosum is not something I’m ever going to be trying at home. It loves acid soil and a cooler climate – it is hardy to -10 or -15 degrees centigrade. I’ve seen the best specimens climbing through yew hedges in Scottish gardens – not for nothing is the common name Scottish flame flower – although it actually comes from Chile. Kellie Castle’s sample is one of the nicest.

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Finally, leave the walled garden for a breath of air on the beautiful Fife coastline.

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I’ll be back with news from my own garden soon. Until then, have a good weekend!

Tree Following March 005

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And then came the roses …

 

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Unfortunately, the rain accompanied the roses – and continues (endlessly). The tomatoes are unplanted (just as well, the blight would get them), the french beans unsown. Weeds as high as an elephant’s eye on the veggie patch, with barely a thing to eat (aside from some rather gorgeous broad beans and lettuce). Of that more in another post …

In the Iris Garden, as I’ve already mentioned, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is a washout this year. (But splendid in 2015 – she stays!). But Bourbon rose ‘Blairii No. 2’ was ploughing manfully on when I took my photographs on a nice evening that seems light years away now.

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It was recommended to me by the late Peter Beales when I visited his nursery many moons ago, while I was living in East Anglia. This is the second time I’ve planted it and I never regret taking his advice, even though it only flowers once. Needs a lot of restraining/hacking twice a year because it’s so vigorous.

Meanwhile, I’m so glad that I took pictures of the Rose Walk before it was completely devastated and drowned. Sigh … there’s always next year. I don’t have many pictures of this area of the garden in full flower. It’s difficult to take pictures in there once everything is as good as it gets (although it smells fabulous when you walk among the blooms – and that was the point, after all).

Who is responsible for this mess? Roses having a riot.

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At the entrance you push your way through (too many) nigella, oriental poppy ‘Karine’, chives, Nepeta mussinii ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Allium christophii. There’s also a fair number of corncockles (Agrostemma githago) self-seeding around, I’m pleased to say. But now that they’ve jumped over into the Long Border, they must be ruthlessly removed from the Rose Walk. (Who am I kidding?)

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And the first rose on your left is David Austin’s ‘Eglantyne’. The only rose left here that I’ve any fears about. Last year there was a spurt of growth after the main flowering. I cut things back around her continually – once she gets her head up properly, I hope she’ll be away (providing she survives the nigella assault). So pretty …

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Then reliable DA rose ‘Munstead Wood’ …

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And Centifolia ‘Fantin Latour’. I love him. So vigorous and disease-resistant, with beautifully  shaped blooms. Even in all this awful weather, perfect. (Just as well, because he’s on the way out for 2016!)

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Last year I added two clematis to the Rose Walk. The one next to ‘Fantin Latour’ is ‘Mme Julia Correvon’.

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There’s another, probably a little too close to ‘Eglantyne’. The semi-herbaceous ‘Warszowska Nike’.

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To the left of ‘Fantin Latour’, Alba rose ‘Celestial’ is flowering already, but more on the south-facing aspect down to the Long Border. The other Alba rose, Great Maiden’s Blush or ‘Cuisse de Nymph’, is only just in bud.

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‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is finally pulling it off this year. A year ago she was engaged in the same struggle as ‘Eglantyne’

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Just along from ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is DA’s’William Shakespeare’. Again a question of getting your head up high enough to compete with the crowd. I’m a little disappointed in this rose as the colour (to my mind) is much a much harsher red than the very similar ‘Munstead Wood’.

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Is there another white rose more perfect than ‘Madame Hardy’?  Do you have a favourite white I could add to my collection? (Note to self: need to learn how to photograph white roses!)

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‘Madame Isaac Pereire’, a Bourbon rose and therefore repeat-flowering,  has a lovely bloom, but she’s prone to black spot. Next year I think I’m going to be more careful about collecting affected foliage and mulching.

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Appearing from a veil of nigella and trying to lift her head up from the crowd is ‘Louise Odier’, one of the newest and planted in 2014.

A strong grower and with little sign of the wretched black spot that afflicts ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’. Also a repeat-flowering Bourbon.

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Facing Louise is ‘Belle de Crecy’ – no disease problems in the rain, but flowering less well this year. This is a Gallica rose, the only one in the garden. I think they prefer light soils, but I noticed in the autumn last year that Belle had started spreading around in her allotted border.

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The last rose in the Rose Walk is ‘Boule de Neige’. Another Bourbon added at the same time as ‘Louise Odier’. I’m tending in their direction, amongst the old-fashioned roses, because they repeat through the summer after a good initial flush in June. But I wish it would get its act together and do something other than produce lots of (rain-drenched) flowers on top of spindly sticks. It was so sulky in the rain that I didn’t bother to take its picture.

Lurking around here are foxgloves starting to spread themselves …

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And oriental poppy ‘Patty’s Plum’. This picture is as good as I’m going to get this year. The buds keep rotting off in the rain, but at least I’ve had a glimpse of that perfect colour before they rot.

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There was a super Crambe cordifolia coming into bloom at the end of the Rose Walk. The one massive inflorescence was first bowed and then finally broken by the rain – as you will see if you read my ‘Vase on Monday‘.

 

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At the end of our Rose Walk, to the right behind the short length of hornbeam hedge, is our garden gate. It gives on to the grassy village lane down to the river (up which the bull came ‘exploring’ a week or so ago).

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The lane hasn’t been strimmed for a while, so not looking quite so tempting for an evening walk (unless you are a bull, of course).

I’ve planted several roses inside the garden along this wall, hoping that I’ll be able to train them over the wall and allow everyone who uses the lane to enjoy them. No doubt the flowers will be better on the other side!

Next to the gate is once-flowering modern climber ‘Alchymist’. A really good year for the rose, finally more than one or two flowers – pity about the rain. You may already have seen it’s portrait in my End of Month View for May, but just a reminder.

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The other two roses against this wall are …

‘Ghislaine de Feligonde’. I love the way the almost orange buds and young flowers fade to pale yellow. It’s a very short rambler that could be used as a pillar rose. In a sense that’s what I’m trying to do with it, because it is planted against a buttress in the wall. Not looking her best here, but I hope you get the picture.

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And finally ‘Abraham Darby’. Still too low-growing to be enjoyable, but the manure mulch and feed I gave him this spring has produced great upright shoots. A very tall rose that can be trained as a climber on a lowish wall (mine is). No picture – he’s currently ‘resting’ and will hopefully reappear with a little sunshine.

Soon I hope to complete the record of roses in my garden for 2016 with pictures of the roses in the Long Border and the once-flowering ramblers elsewhere.

In a vase on Monday

DSC_0152My roses are finally getting properly in their stride now, after planting in 2012/13. Apart  from ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (whose buds have turned into an unpleasant grey mush) all are actually flowering quite well in spite of our very heavy rain.

This weekend I was admiring ‘Benjamin Britten’ … probably for the first time since it was planted! It’s a very tall rose that has been a little afflicted by black spot since I’ve had it  – but strong growing nonetheless and finally making more of a bush instead of the tall gangly sticks of the last few years. And flowering well in the rain (don’t talk to me about  black spot).

DSC_0197Quite an unusual colour – David Austen describes it as a strong salmon-pink that changes with age to deep pink. It has a tendency to be a little two-tone, verging on orange in parts.

Today I thought it would be nice to celebrate the fact that the elder has just started flowering here, and I’ve added a few blue nigella, as much for the different shape/texture as for the colour.

Now go on over to Cathy’s blog at Rambling in the Garden and have a look at all the creative arrangements that everyone else has produced this Monday.

End of Month View: May

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Yes – it’s finished! Even the corner pieces are now on the new pergola. And that marvellous shadow effect is not only due to the sun – the Bon Viveur painted the wood in two different shades of blue to accentuate the effect. 

May has been a very mixed month. Much wetter than is usual here and temperatures quite cool. Up to 27 degrees centigrade in the garden occasionally, but often not much more than 15 or 17. A mixed blessing. There has been fantastic growth on the plants and I am particularly pleased that my new herbaceous plants in the Hornbeam Gardens have had time to establish properly, without additional water.

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Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ flowering on the steps up to the Mirror Garden

The down side is that we are (as of Saturday 28th May) heading into another rainy period and all of the juicy rosebuds may be a bit of a wash-out. And just when they finally started getting their toes in … No one can be a real gardener without dabbling in philosophy.

The shot below is of the Rose Walk, Long Border, Knot Garden and blue pergola from the balcony of the house.DSC_0002

I’m still in two minds about the Knot Garden. Half of me says topiary hollies and bedded- out tulips (flamboyant!), followed by some cool bedding colours (white and green nicotiana?). The other half sees low white roses against green hedges.

The Bon Viveur is for both. At the moment I just keep weeding and allowing the young box (cuttings from 2013) to grow …DSC_0007 (1)

Moving down to the Mirror Garden. Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ is just finishing off its annual performance. What a star – the first rose to flower here every year since it was planted in 2012. I’ve noticed that it begins on a particularly warm little spot on the old tower and spreads like wildfire. I had to hang it back up and chop it a little in May, while it was already flowering. (Takes a steely heart to cut buds from a rose like this!)

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The Melianthus major have gone out in their blue pots again this year. DSC_0008The pleated foliage is beautiful, but they are not really working in the pots, and I still haven’t found an alternative. I loved the  Melianthus that used to be in the huge pot at Hidcote (still is?), and that’s where the idea comes from. These pots are too small.

DSC_0013 (1)I was wondering about some yellow bedding (the theme up here is yellow, grey and green). But I’m currently drawing a blank.

The blue pergola on the Vine Terrace is finished, as I’ve said. This is the prettiest thing I’ve ever had in a garden of mine. But thank goodness the BV has gone back to work in Basel – he has been laying waste to the ivy that covered most of our ‘service’ bits – hence the ladder that you can see in the background.

DSC_0014 (1)DSC_0019 (1)Like the wire down to the plug where I attach my electric lawnmower in the Iris Garden – and even the pipe for the fosse septique. I’m mortified! This is where we bring our visitors on a nice summer’s evening.

Still – the irises look grand. I’m enjoying the first flowering of plants I purchased back in 2014. ‘Forest Hills’ you’ve already seen here, in my post about the irises in Basel.

The other little stars are …

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Langport Storm

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Jane Phillips

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Foggy Dew

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Carnaby – the flashiest iris I’ve ever grown. Love it!

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Blue Rhythm

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Wine and Roses – sweetly pretty. I’m already imagining it in combination with other plants in the garden when it is big enough to divide.

The Iris Garden is where my worst fears about the current bad weather reside. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is just getting into her stride.

DSC_0025 (1)My worst fears because this is simply the worst rose I’ve ever come across for ‘balling’. I’m sure I’ve written it before, but here goes again: ‘When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was HORRID!’ If it rains when she’s flowering, that’s it. The buds become ugly grey-brown lumps of lead – and they are heavy, heavy, like little bullets when you cut them off.

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You can just see a browned-off bud in the background. She’s looking like a bit of a Joan of Arc here, gazing up to the skies … and suffering.

Today I did a mercy run and cut some for the table in the kitchen. We do usually get flowers again in late summer – so I’ll pray for better weather then. She was superb last year.

I’m not so worried about ‘Blairii No. 2’, also just coming into flower. It seems much more tolerant of wet weather.DSC_0105

This is the first year I’ve planted clematis out against the walls – so far I’ve been a bit nervous to add them, because I still am doing so much planting and they don’t like being ‘messed with’.  But now ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’ is snuggled up between ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ and ‘Pierre  de Ronsard’. She’s a ‘wilter’ and all I can do is pray for her …

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DSC_0140Down in the Rose Walk things are exactly as I want them (and just the way most other people don’t!). I like to feel I’m in a wild flower meadow and my roses are just growing there accidentally. The picture below is at my shoulder height – buds all the way.

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The tantalising buds of ‘Fantin Latour’. I noticed the first open flowers Saturday evening before rather a scary thunderstorm.

The buds of a pink peony are mixing it with up ‘Fantin Latour’.

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‘Gertrude Jekyll’ has been the first rose to flower this year.

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The alliums are in full flood (oops – not the correct word to use, given current weather conditions).DSC_0032 (1)DSC_0124

Allium christophii is flowering for the first time here.

DSC_0037DSC_0121The nigella are (as usual) out of control … but so pretty I can never murder them.

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Geraniums, disappointingly, don’t do too well in the Rose Walk (I don’t think I give them enough room, really, since they like to spread over the surface of a border). Fortunately the new ones are romping away in the lower part of the garden.

But this little seed-raised G. himalayense has been so pretty this year. DSC_0047

And Anchusa ‘Loddon Royalist’, just along from the geranium, is keeping up the blue/purple theme. I probably shouldn’t have planted this – it will just worry me to death because everyone says it’s short-lived. But I was pretty successful with it on heavy clay in England, so I’m daring to try again.

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And the bronze fennel is acting as a nice backdrop. Although starting to remind me what a fierce weed it is.

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I have to admit, sometimes even I think the Rose Walk is a bit messy … but so romantic and what’s more important? The path is narrow (this is actually dictated by the dimensions of the place, not me) and I feel we should be replacing it with a herringbone brick or something to give more structure.

DSC_0120aWe are due (this sounds better than ‘hoping’) to put a greenhouse down here. It will have to be blue-grey, and specifically for my sixtieth birthday in December. Attached will be a matching pergola created by the BV.

Funnily enough, this whole Rose Walk area (although it was the first place I gardened when I started in 2012) is the most ‘unfinished’ of the cultivated areas in the garden. There’s the awful heap of garden rubbish where the glasshouse will be. And at the far end there’s a matching heap of rubbish (perfect symmetry) where I want my compost bins. Three of them, shaped like beehives, painted cream or pale blue …

I can dream about my greenhouse and the beehive compost bins. That’s what my blog is all about …

Against the Rose Walk wall (the village ramparts), ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ is pretty startling in this, her third spring.

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… and just beyond the short length of hornbeam hedge, by our garden gate, once flowering rose ‘Alchymist’ has finally got more than two buds at a time!

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Behind the Rose Walk is an area I call the ‘mini woodland’. All looks reasonably respectable at the front, with aquilegias and herbaceous plants coming up in the area where I could see coloured stemmed dogwoods two months ago and then the bluebells.

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DSC_0111 (1)A week ago I decided to go round to the (even wilder) back where all the creeping buttercups hang out, smoking and generally behaving badly.

I wanted to weed and found myself bathed in wonderful spring sunshine, in the wild heart of one of my best ‘messes’ – the buzzing of bees was overwhelming and I couldn’t bear to touch a hair on its head. Well, maybe the odd one or two …

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I don’t often say say or write the kind of comment that follows; I’m a perfectionist who not only lacks confidence, but is very critical of herself . However, the Long Border looks lovely at the moment (although poor roses – blasted by the rain since Saturday night).

DSC_0057 (1)DSC_0058 (1)There is a lot of material grown in bulk from cuttings here (filched from the streets of the little town where I used to live). Philadelphus, weigela, and so on clothe the bank down from the Rose Walk. Everything is flowering properly for the first time and I can hardly believe they were about 5 inches high when I brought them here in November 2011.

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Weigela, comfrey and borage with Hesperis matronalis.

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Philadelphus coronarius

And many repeated herbaceous plants grown from seed: different catmint species (N. sessiliflora & N. nervosa), Asphodeline lutea and Thalictrum speciosissimum.

I’m even noticing that my Angelica is self-seeding (in many of the ‘wrong’ places).

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Naughty angelica settled in the crown of Thalictrum speciosissimum

Very interesting. Being ‘economically challenged’ and using, of necessity, the same plant many times can help give a border unity. I’m proud of it. I planted out some tubers of Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’ last Thursday and I’ve a few (too small) cannas to add. The dahlias seem to take the heat really well  (this is almost the hottest part of the garden) and I thought I’d turn this into a real blaze from hell in the summer. Slowly, slowly.

Down in the Hornbeam Gardens, my little dead magnolia, planted over the cat’s grave, has been replaced by a Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’ (fingers crossed that doesn’t die as well!).

DSC_0087 (1) I’m really pleased with the geraniums and grasses that are starting to perform after being planted last year just in advance of the hottest summer I’ve known here.

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The young shrub above (planted winter 2014) is Viburnum plicatum ‘Watanabe’ (a smaller version of ‘Mariesii’) and the blue geraniums are ‘Orion’ and good old ‘Johnson’s Blue’. The grasses are seed-raised Deschampsia cespitosa.

On the other side of the path, the plantings of herbaceous in March this year are filling out nicely, although my Echinacea ‘Summer Skies’ never made an appearance. Must make sure I get the nursery to replace it – we don’t often do that, do we? But many mail order nurseries offer some sort of guarantee.

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Lilac ‘Miss Kim’ is very small, but pretty near perfect.DSC_0081 (1)

And the BV has erected the most fabulous support for my sweet peas that they have ever, ever had. At least they will benefit from the rain. Could be a good year!

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Through the hornbeam hedge into the orchard is my next challenge – a slope that’s being crammed full of shrubs and ‘extras’ from the rest of the garden. So hard to maintain by strimming as it was. It’s still pretty rough around the ears, but I find it interesting to record ‘before and after’.

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It’s all looking good – even the grass is cut. But if it carries on raining this week, I’ll be forced to turn to the ironing (also growing well in May) and cleaning the beams in the attic.

Weather, be kind to my roses!

This ridiculously long post is my contribution to Helen’s ‘End of Month View’ at the Patient Gardener. Go on over and see the exciting things that exploded into flower in everyone’s else’s May garden.