Category Archives: Roses

In a Vase on Monday

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Wow – that was a cold one!

Inspiration for today’s vase came from the poor little flowers of Rose ‘William Shakespeare’ (David Austin) and the blushes of red and pink on the greeny-yellery flowers of a mophead hydrangea.

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Believe it or not this rose is frozen almost solid!

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I passed the hydrangeas (in pots) on my way down to the garden to pick something for my Monday vase and the first thing I came across was poor Willie, frozen solid in the Rose Walk.

I  bought ‘our William’ because I wanted another dark red Austin rose – I liked ‘Munstead Wood’ so much and it performed so well here.

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At first I thought that M. Shakespeare was rather a vulgar version of ‘Munstead Wood’, but this year he’s coming into his own and ‘Munstead Wood’ has been very poor indeed (I’m wondering if it’s not too fond of the plentiful rain we’ve had?).

Nice when you fall in love with something that left you less than totally enchanted to start with!

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Then I braved the prickles of Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’, because I felt they’d add a certain bloody something (I’m thinking Macbeth here) to the arrangement. And a little gentleness came by way of Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’

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There is actually some Sedum spectabile in there as well (all the leaves dropped off when I picked it!), but it seems to be shyly hiding in every photograph.

Even the surface of our table on the balcony had a film of ice on it this morning. Willie is still standing outside, because I think he’ll fall to pieces if I put him in the warm kitchen.

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I’m afraid this vase isn’t going to even last the day out, but I did enjoy creating it!

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Greetings from a very frosty Chatillon – did you read that the Academie Francaise has just voted to get rid of circumflexes? Thank goodness, because whenever I type the word ‘Chatillon’ in a blog post, I’m forced to use a website offering French accents to copy and paste (there should be a little hat over the ‘a’ in Chatillon). Now I don’t have to worry!

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Go on over and get an eyeful of all the other lovely vases on Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden. And thanks to her as our gracious hostess!

 

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.