Category Archives: Roses

In a vase on Monday

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‘Noordwijks Glory’ is the dahlia face on here, with ‘Karma Choc’ to the right. Rose ‘Wollerton Old Hall’ just behind, with one flower of ‘Sweet Juliet’ to the right.

Here’s my contribution to Cathy’s meme at Rambling in the Garden. I used only dahlias and roses – and probably not as much foliage as I ought to have used!

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Dahlia ‘Karma Lagoon’

The dahlias are: ‘Karma Irene’ (red), ‘Karma Lagoon’ (purple), ‘La Recoleta’ (pom-pom, dark purple), ‘Karma Choc’, ‘Noordwijks Glory’ and the little single anemone-flowered ‘Totally Tangerine. Roses were ‘Wollerton Old Hall’, ‘Sweet Juliet’ and HT ‘Mr Lincoln’.

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‘Wollerton Old Hall’ (left), ‘Sweet Juliet’ (right), with a hint of Dahlia ‘Karma Irene’ beside it.

All are included just because they were ‘there’ and I wanted to try out a new plant-holder/vase, given to me by the kind parents of two 5- and 9-year-old children who I tutored in English this summer.

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This young couple from Lyon have close ties to Chatillon – both grandmother and great-grandmother live here – and spent the summer in the village before immigrating to New Zealand on 11 September.

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‘Sweet Juliet’

It’s a sad fact that rural France, in some areas, is increasingly depopulated with only oldies like me left. The French establishment and press refer endlessly to our ‘medical deserts’. And these are, of course, the areas where the oldies live! Places where the old doctors are retiring (or dying) and to which the young ones don’t wish to relocate.

The French health service is arguably unsurpassed in the world (a clever combination of a free public service and a top-up insurance service (referred to as your ‘complémentaire santé’), which patients pay for themselves monthly. So the public input is shored up financially by our own private input. But if you have a ‘carte vitale’ (and every French person has one, from a child) you are always entitled to all the health care basics.

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A slightly battered Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’

However, due to the size of the country, if you fall and break your leg (or neck, as has happened to two people I know), the emergency service in an area like ours will have to helicopter you to the nearest large hospital. Meanwhile, on the roads, fleets of taxi-ambulances (paid for by our ‘complementaires’) ferry patients the 50 minutes to hospitals for treatments such as dialysis or radiotherapy. And even as far as Paris (about 3.5 hours away), sometimes as often as once a fortnight, if you can only be treated there.

In winter the villages are quiet and nearly dead. But summer brings an inrush of grandchildren from Paris and further afield. Shouts of joy down by the river and bicycles in the streets again!

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It must be hard when parents, such as my students’ parents, decide to relocate to the other side of the world for a better life. Thiebault, the oldest, when asked what he was looking forward to most in New Zealand told me: ‘Living in a house!’ Apartment life in a city is the norm, life in the country the exception for most children. I hope they are settling in well, even if they are not in the house he dreams of yet!

I did try out my vase with different dahlias as well – more ‘Karma Serena’ and some ‘Playa Blanca’ – and this time added some snapdragons. The touch of green and the spikiness make it altogether a ‘perkier’ vase.

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Go on over and see the other vases at ‘Rambling in the Garden‘. They are always so different and inspiring. And have gifted me lots of new ideas over the years.

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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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