Tag Archives: Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

September garden musings

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If you happened to drop by and you enjoy looking at pictures of my garden – welcome!

But be aware that this post is mostly for the benefit of my absent husband who likes to keep up with what’s happening – it may be too long for you! Also – although I love garden memes, I sometimes find them really exhausting. When I first started blogging, I did it because I wanted to record some of my own garden experiences. To be honest, I wasn’t too bothered if nobody else read what I wrote. The memes have taken some of the pleasure out of that experience … added to which my eyes are not taking kindly to the hours in front of the computer demanded if you truly try to ‘keep up’ and be a good blogging friend.  So these are just ramblings. And I’m giving myself permission to do more!

Here’s your parched garden, Nick. Still no rain to speak of and temperatures have climbed a little again into the low 30s. We are forecast a little rain tomorrow after 12 days – but it often passes us by. And then there seem to be no dark clouds for days to come. Hey ho …

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The supper terrace has been the most luscious place this summer, the foliage so huge, the blooms of hydrangea so welcome (must get more) when it’s hot. This just proves what watering can do.

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And the orchids do seem to be enjoying the trick of hanging outside with a regular spray over. I really enjoy them, because they look more like the orchids I remember from my botanic garden days.

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As epiphytes they relish that regular touch of cool and damp. Unfortunately I haven’t got it automated and so I have to run down (or up!) regularly with my little hand sprayer. But they are looking cool and much happier. The idea is that they are whisked into the house in flower.

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On the Mirror Garden we have a desert aspect. The only things left in the lawn are the Verbascum thapsus that grow everywhere in Chatillon. They have to have their heads chopped regularly.

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I had to cut back the Banksian rose (Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’) hard in July, mainly to dispose of Muelenbeckia complexa. It looked so sweet in that little pot – and remember how I gave out when you accidentally strimmed it Nick? But it’s a horror, and I do wish I’d read how invasive it is before planting it. Below are before pictures …

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It was growing in all the crevices of the old tower which is part of the medieval ramparts. I was fearful for the stone. I’ve sprayed it twice with weedkiller since rooting it out, but it will need more and I noticed yesterday that a tuft in the wall is greening up again.

And some ‘after’ pictures …

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You can see how much pruning I had to throw down to the next terrace (and then throw down to the next – my disposal method for woody prunings). You can also see that I accidentally broke the downpipe from the roof! Even that rusty old thing had Muehlenbeckia growing in it!

Fortunately the rose is coming back after the massacre, although we won’t have much flower for next year.

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Following attacks by the box tree moth caterpillar (Pyrole de buis) I sprayed twice with Bacillus thuringiensis (May and late July) and set three pheromone traps (which caught a lot of adult moths). My box is still alive and, if not thriving, still providing the structural element I like.

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Back in May I did clip all the garden box at the same time when I first discovered the caterpillar (I usually do it in stages). And that removed tonnes of the little blighters, so quite an important step! It took me about 3 days, with 3-hour stints each day. The actual spraying takes about 2.5 hours to cover everything in the garden. It’s debatable if this process is for everyone.

I still like to think the box tree moth can be controlled. It was so bad this year – decimating everyone’s box for miles around – but I think that may have been due to the fact that no one in the area paid much attention to the first onslaught in 2017, myself included. Next year I am also going to try a French nurseryman’s recommendation that box be clipped in late February – he says this can remove any ‘problems’ that are over-wintering in the top growth.

The Vine Terrace is looking sweetly autumnal – although the birds and wasps have had the grapes as usual. Next year, maybe? We need to be bottling our own wine in this house!

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The greenhouse still has some tomatoes coming on, although it’s all slowing down now.

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Outside I’ve been really enjoying the Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ and white antirrhinums that were planted in the two new pots you bought me, Nick. They look good with the Ricinus communis that were never planted out in the Long Border due to the early heat. And what I think are carpenter bees (comments anyone?) are enjoying them too. These big black bees come in the morning (perhaps nesting in the rampart walls?) and are replaced by honey bees in the afternoon. Curious.

I’m so glad that Eryngium ‘Mrs Willmott’s Ghost’ is seeding and spreading in the Rose Walk.

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Biennials and annuals that like to self-seed here are to be treasured because the heavy clay is not for everyone. So far we have Salvia sclarea, Papaver rhoes, P. somniferum and Verbascum thapsus that seem to like us. I notice that all of these like heat and have quite fleshy taproots (with the exception of the annual poppy). For the life of me I can’t establish Dame’s Violet (Hesperis matronalis) or Honesty (Lunaria annua) or Forget-me-not (Mysotis) although I keep on trying, and perhaps they will do better below where there’s more space for self-seeders.

The veg plot is a DISASTER!

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I am still waiting for my brassicas to recover (they usually do in September, but we haven’t had the rain and cool they like). The pumpkins did quite well, but surprisingly little fruit, and the french beans didn’t get enough water after my first great pickings, so petered out quickly. On the other hand, the autumn-sown broad beans were great and I still have perpetual spinach and chard to pick (chard running up to seed slightly), since they can take a bit of heat.

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The Long Border looks pretty messy and dry, but that always spurs you on to plan constructive changes for the following year. There are many shrubs due to be replanted down below and I’m sick of the vast swathes of hemerocallis that I inherited with the garden. It’s a pretty boring plant, in my opinion. But it does love it here and perhaps I should experiment with different, prettier, colours than the standard orange.

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Still roses flowering. ‘Jude the Obscure’ hasn’t been too bad this year, after slowly moving into gear for the last two seasons.

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A friend has a ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, consumed by what I think is brown canker. David Austin should think twice before naming roses after tragic heroes and heroines. But I think Jude will win out, unlike his namesake.

This is the first year that the Reverend Pemberton’s Hybrid Musk rose ‘Felicia’ has risen to her full height.

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There are one or two interesting perennials still flowering (many of my flowers were over far too soon in the Long Border this year, although fortunately it looked good in May and until the end of June when the garden was open). Aster ‘Monch’ is always nice …

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Funnily enough the other asters (michaelmas) haven’t really got into their stride yet. One helenium remains in flower. My least favourite called ‘Loysden Wieke’. I should take it back to the nursery, because they swore I’d love its quirkiness …

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The Hornbeam Gardens are still taking shape from what used to be their field – with the expected weeding (especially of crab grass) that comes with the transformation.

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I’ve managed to clip the hedge in the top half, which is the cut flower garden. You can see my ladder working on the arch …

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But the hedge at the bottom remains hairy and wild. The bottom is also proving a bit of a problem because it is incredibly dry down there, owing to heat and the greedy roots of an ash tree just beyond our boundary. No matter how big your garden, this is a problem that you always seem to encounter. But maybe I should rejoice that the ash is not yet dead, as it is in Britain?

Finally – the little cyclamen, many of which came from your mother’s garden in County Wicklow, Nick, are still alive and starting to bloom really well. A terrible picture, but in the life they are more than whispy ghosts! Hopefully they will still be on the go when you are back at the end of September!

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This summer has given many of us pause for thought. We do not all love gardens that are ‘bedded out’ every year, and some of us feel immoral when we over-use the hosepipe. I water my spaces no more than once a week. In the past this has worked, but this year when I look at the pots that are watered every day and the borders that are rationed I can note a huge difference in growth.

I do not feed borders either, because I believe this just plays into the hands of the big businesses that want to take my precious pennies. And I prefer a natural style of gardening. Instead I use a little slow release, organic fertiliser on roses and I hope that mulching with the product of my new compost bins and the material that runs through the recently purchased shredder will give the soil back what it needs.

I refuse competition. My garden is for our pleasure, not to make somebody I’ve never met a lot of money or to impress my neighbours. But it’s difficult when you encounter climate change as we are doing at the moment. Ideally I’d have a low maintenance Mediterranean-style planting here, with lots of greys and drought-tolerant plants. That’s also why I’m so interested in things that like to self-sow. But the soil does militate against this style of planting. It is cold and very wet in the winter and dry as – well, fired clay, in the summer!

My new year resolution (did you know that September is traditionally thought to be the start of a new gardening year?) is to try and evolve a planting style that is appropriate for this place and not so based on the traditional English herbaceous style that I ‘grew up’ with. So lots of lists – and lots of seed to purchase! I do think grasses and bulbs will figure large, with early-flowering perennials, because the late-comers can’t take the heat. Just wish I could add succulents and dramatic shapes to the Long Border, but it will be way too cold for them here. Could be fun, if and when I rise to the challenge!

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An August indulgence (the long read …)

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Wow, even in a wet summer like the current one, our grass on the Mirror Garden is still parched.

I first started my blog quite a while ago (you can find my original here). It was a seed that sprouted from a desire to communicate what was happening in my garden here in France to my husband (endlessly working abroad) and my mother (living in Scotland).

The Bon Viveur is again absent working in England, so I’m taking him on our  customary tour of the garden. It’s been a long time since I took an objective look at the garden; this will consequently be a little lengthy. If you haven’t got the stamina for the walk (and the endless photos) goodbye until we meet again!

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We’re up on the balcony. It’s a cloudy Saturday evening; I can sit up here tonight without my sunglasses on. It’s been a bit of a battle to get plants to grow on the balcony, because it’s like an oven when hot. And since we are always going to be sharing our space at close quarters, the traditional suspects such as agaves are not an option. Even lavender has been a really tricky thing to get going – I can’t tell you how many plants have gone into my troughs in the last 3 years. And I actually had to google why my cactus were going funny colours: too much light (can you believe it?).

On Saturday 12 August, Châtillon-sur-Saône was preparing itself for the big, annual August Fête de la Renaissance.

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The château grounds next to our garden have been clipped to within an inch of their lives and the ‘other’ Bon Viveurs have put up their flamboyant little canopy in preparation for the sun, which didn’t quite arrive this weekend.

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Walking down to our supper terrace, below the balcony (see the map here, if you think you’ll get lost!), I’m celebrating the fact that my own special Bon Viveur has removed all the old gravel (in preparation for paving), reorganised the foliage plants and put up an artificial hedge.

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I was a bit doubtful about the latter – but it works. No space consumed, lots of privacy. I love the stripey Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ against the ‘hedge’ and my little Gingko biloba has new growth, which makes me want to sing.

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The next level is the Mirror Garden, looking as tranquil as always, after the tulips finish putting  in an appearance in May.

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The blanket of green on the tower is, rather surprisingly, a Muehlenbeckia species

I like the Mirror Garden like this – it’s fairly straightforward to manage and easy on the eye. But I’d like some more euphorbias and yellow/white thingeys up here in spring. I was shocked to see that my special baby, Euphorbia characias subsp characias was killed by our low temperatures this winter (down, probably, to -20 degrees). Start again time!

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Peaceful except for those little white bags that have sprouted furiously over our nameless white dessert grape on the tower. This is the kind of slow, loving job that the BV does the best. This grape is so sweetly delicious that the wasps always get to it before we do. Foiled!

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And, my dear friend Beatrix, did you notice that the tiny little Muehlenbeckia you gave me about 7 years ago is now holding up Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’? Just go back and look at the second Mirror Garden picture again! To think that I was cross with the BV for strimming it and ‘killing’ it only 5 years ago! Now it may take over the village. It certainly has designs on our guest bedroom.

As I come out of the Mirror Garden, the Vine Terrace is one level below. Currently being (again) revamped by the BV.

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I have a water reservoir with no water (all the pipework has been disconnected!) – but joy, oh joy – yes, another artifical hedge. I am not being tongue in cheek here – really. I spend hours and hours battling with ivy and parthenocissus growing on all the old walls in this garden. An artificial hedge seems a bit like heaven on earth. And it doesn’t look half bad either! Thank you Lidl (and Nick).

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This ‘haie artificiel’ has been done in only one layer – the one up on the Supper Terrace is 2 layers and a million times better. Try it yourself. The BV spends hours over a flora at the moment trying to discover what species of plant this is. And how will it mature?

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To my left, walking down by the steps, is the Iris Garden. Again tranquilly green after the once flowering of Rose ‘Blairii No. 2’ and the irises themselves. Although ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ still throws out the odd bloom – and I think you can probably see two in the photo?

It’s such a privilege to have a large enough garden so that you can enjoy things in season and forget about them later.

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I never fail to enjoy the BV’s lovely blue pergola in the Vine Terrace when I look up at it from the Iris Garden – in fact you can see it from most points in the garden.

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The blue pergola on the Vine Terrace – and you can also see the balcony above.

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I’m going to bulk up Eucomis comosa in the Iris Garden. I was too mean to buy more than 2 bulbs, initially – but we have our first flower spike, and it’s luscious! What a lift in August, when everything is looking sad and hope leaves the gardener’s heart (unless he/she understands that this month is actually the start of the new gardening year).

Although the Rose Walk was the first place where I started to garden, it now looks like a building site and has been the source of a lot of depression this summer. I felt so sorry for the poor old roses doing their thing in the midst of heaps of soil and stone rubble. And I longed for my paved path up the middle – definition in wildness, that’s what my goal is.

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The greenhouse is still a twinkle …

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Although I do have a lovely new compost bin (one of a trio).

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Unfortunately I’m getting used to the building site – can you see that I even weeded around the ‘greenhouse’, Nick? In future I hope it won’t involve climbing over great heaps of soil.

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Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ is beautiful. But it’s the strangest thing here – whenever I divide herbaceous perennials they have a tendency to peter out. I used to have 6 of this Echinacea, and made a couple of divisions. Then they all started to die. So I’m quite nervous about dividing this one decent plant.

Although much of the Rose Walk is a bit scorched looking, repeated plantings of Stachys lanata and Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ help to keep it fresh.

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And I’m really enjoying the little picture that Perovskia atriplicifolia is making with the new growth of the rosemary.

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Turning down into the Long Border …

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The Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ are finished flowering and all is pretty parched now (this is probably the hottest part of the garden).

But Echinacea purpurea …

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Cannas and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’…

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and young Helenium and Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ are all looking good. When the hazels are coppiced in winter these will be so much better in 2018. At the moment everything is leaning forwards.

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Straight on from the Long Border is the veggie plot. Looks tidy, but is singularly unproductive.

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We had some nice spinach and peas earlier, before the heat set in, and I even managed to grow carrots this year, finally recognising that they had to be sprayed over every day to get them to germinate (and with a long germination time, that can be 20 days of spraying!).

Brassicas absolutely loath heat (to my chagrin, because I adore broccoli), but then recover in autumn, so the sprouts do fine (and I get late broccoli). This year there have been many, many failures in contrast to previous years.

When the greenhouse is up, I reckon the trick with this very hot site will be to sow in late February under glass, with a view to planting out in March.

From the Long Border I can look down onto the cut flower garden. That, and the fact that I had just completed all my strimming, were what made me decide to post today.

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It looks good although it is – wait for it! – unfinished. But you know, it’s a lot of work. I underestimated how much would be involved on our sloping site.

This year was my worst year for cut flowers. I had no sunflowers, no Ammi spp, no larkspur. But the sweet peas were good – over now! – and I am filled with joy when I look at the strong zinnia plants.

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Disappointing snapdragons, bought from Special Seeds. The cultivar ‘Black Prince’ looks to be completely dwarf, so useless as a cut flower. Why, oh why, do seed companies not do single colour packets any more? I know the answer, you don’t need to tell me!

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You can see more clearly why I call it a building site!

I started sowing too late, hence 2017’s cut flower disaster. I think I always underestimate how much work there will be in spring, given that I’m developing new areas all the time. All that digging and heaving means there isn’t a lot of time for pleasurable things like sowing. I really do hope I/we are nearly at the end of garden development – then I can begin to take pleasure in real horticulture!

As well as all the wooden/ turf steps in the Hornbeam Gardens (the top is the cut flower garden, the bottom the wild shrub garden), the BV has had to completely redo the stone steps that descend down there. I’m no longer in danger of breaking my neck, but it has been so time-consuming.

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Our cheap little Aldi metal arches that we bought to frame the entrances are really rather pretty – they won’t last forever, of course, but I’m hoping that by the time they are dust to dust the horbeam hedge itself will have grown up to make the arches. This week I had to be rather brutal with the hedges, because I realised that I was letting them grow up beyond something that would be beyond my control in the future.

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You will notice in the photographs above that I still haven’t decided what the eventual surface of these steps will be – but you can be sure it won’t stay like this! The easiest would be to sow some decent grass (involving weedkilling the ‘bad’ grass in September). Haven’t made my mind up yet.

This stretch of ground from the Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’ arch up to the ‘delphinum’ border is probably the path most impacted by the decision I make.

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I’m enjoying what Deschampsia cespitosa is doing down in the bottom part of the Hornbeam Gardens … it’s not all good though!

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To the right the lower Hornbeam Garden is completely scorched and horrid (although it looked pretty in spring). I’m thinking buddleias and sedums to withstand the intense drought here, caused in part by overhanging neighbour trees (no shade, just sucking!). Magnolias also seem to do really rather well in drought conditions. There is one here that battles on in the midst of the mess!

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The other side is really rather jolly, although it needs a lot of tweaking. The flowering shrubs here are all spring things – lilac, deutzia, Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride’, Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’.

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There were hydrangeas for later, but all but one has given up the ghost – and that one remaining plant, H. paniculata ‘Limelight’, is not too happy. This is definitely not the place for the superb Hydrangea aspera.

Walking out into the orchard, this is the last area that I believe HAS to be developed in the garden – although I could go on down to the river with wild plantings (this is REALLY dreaming!). Much of the fruit is planted to make espaliers (although some poor souls don’t even have wires at the moment).

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Am in the midst of trimming hedges and strimming by the lines of espaliers (to the right)

There will be a meadow-style herbaceous planting underneath four Prunus ‘Tai-haku’ in the ‘will-be’ borders (we do need shade here, although you may not understand this) .

I have planted 4 yews to make strong boxy statements at the corners of the two broad borders. I intend to dig at least one side this winter – the side that already has some plants in it (roses, oxe-eye daisies, etc.)

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The little brown boy at the front is actually doing something very natural and unmentionable. I’m sorry you had to see this!

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My vision is for the cherries to flower with Narcissus poeticus ‘Recurvus’ below, followed by wilder roses and daisies. I’m learning what seeds itself well here, and this will be so very important in the future. Opium poppies do well (although I couldn’t get ‘Lauren’s Grape’ to germinate this year), verbascum and – miraculously – Verbena bonariensis. All the old verbena plants were killed in our very hard winter of 2016/17. I thought I’d lost it, but it’s popped up beautifully in the Hornbeam Gardens.

Knautia macedonica is becoming a menace and I never have to worry about losing nigella (although, again, have not managed to get ‘African Bride’  to germinate).

I am really, really looking forward to seeing this part of the garden swaying with species roses, daisies and wild carrot (‘Purple Kisses’ is a pretty one I tried this year).

And I so very much hope that this is the last winter with a huge amount of heavy work to do. Someday I’ll get sowing early instead of wallowing around in March still digging.

Well done if you made it through to here! And do cut me a bit of slack and remember that when we blog we are recording for ourselves too!

Nick – hope you enjoyed the walk around your garden?

In a Vase on Monday

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Today is the la Fête du Travail in France and the symbol of this public holiday – in honour of workers’ rights – is the lily-of-the-valley. Lily-of-the-valley swamps us with its appearance everywhere at this time of year.

Not just in our gardens: on street corners in towns there are people offering little bunches of it (a change from, ‘Buy some lucky heather?’), and Aldi and Lidl dish it up to us in small pots by the hundred.

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The custom is said to have started on May 1 1561, when an unknown citizen presented King Charles IX with a bunch of lily-of-the-valley as a token of prosperity for the coming year. He began a tradition of presenting ladies at the court with lily-of-the-valley each May Day.

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By 1900 French lovers were exchanging bunches – and the habit began to spread amongst close family members as well. So today, when you go to visit your maman or mamie, it would be very bad form if you failed to take her some lily-of-the-valley.

I planned to use my own (flowering, amazingly, for quite a few weeks now) in a vase this May Day – the rhizomes came originally from my mother’s garden in Scotland and are now slowly establishing. But not nearly as well as they do in Scotland! The little vase is one I call my ‘snowdrop’ vase – so long with me that I can’t remember where I got it.

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I popped some of its own foliage into the vase with a little sprig of the vetch Vicia sativa. I love the vetch when it’s flowering, but later on when it starts bouncing up amongst the rhizomes of irises my delight turns to curses.

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And then I was kind of inspired to go on an make a trio of vases.

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Taking a walk out in the garden on this slightly rainy May Day, I felt like picking a little of Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride’ and Victor Lemoine’s lilac ‘Belle de Nancy’. If you want to know more about Lemoine, a breeder who came from the city of Nancy (our capital in Lorraine), have a look at this old post.

Here is his lovely deep purple lilac, just beginning to really do its thing chez nous.

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My shrubs are all so small here that this seems rather cruel. However, it IS raining and there are other flowers, so I dared. The Exchorda is not at all happy being told what to do in a vase. The flower stems are drooping and I noticed this morning that it starts to flower from the top down, so the leading flower on the spike is always the oldest – a nuisance if you are arranging it, when you want the freshest, sweetest at the top.

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I also used Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’, whose flowering stems are just as difficult to place in a vase, although it looks so graceful draped down a stone wall.

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Finally, almost for foliage, the young shoots and buds of Spirea betulifolia It was in the garden when we arrived here, and named for me by another Monday vase-maker last year when I used it. Thanks so much again – it’s a fluffy little sweetie when the flowers open!

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I did think that the rose looked particularly delicious with the purple of ‘Belle de Nancy’.

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Hop on over and see what the others are doing at Cathy’s meme at Rambling in the Garden.

And thanks so much again for hosting, Cathy! This meme is really forcing me to slow down and ENJOY my garden.

Happy May Day to everyone!

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Tulips & other favourite things

DSC_0068A 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.

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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.

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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.

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DSC_0055DSC_0063DSC_0058Below 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.

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I need to learn how to use my new camera – even Ella has a tinge of green about her!

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.

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Narcissus ‘Jenny’

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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.

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‘Queen of the Night’ & ‘China Pink’

DSC_0186DSC_0212The ‘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.

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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.

DSC_0217But 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.

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‘Sweet Harmony’ in the Rose Walk

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?

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Looking down from the Mirror Garden on the Rose Walk (with the tulips at the far end) and the Long Border in front of it. They form a kind of oblong unit, with a bank running down from the roses to the Long Border.

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Coming around the corner from the Rose Walk and looking down the Long Border. (I really do think I’ve got the ‘green around the gills’/white balance problem licked now, but the two photos above were all that I had showing the Long Border at a distance!)

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‘Westpoint’ with Narcissus ‘Actaea’, about a week ago.

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.

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‘Flaming Spring Green’ & ‘Westpoint’

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‘Westpoint’

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A ‘Flaming Spring Green’ refusing to flame!

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This is the real ‘Spring Green’, elsewhere in the garden

Further along a little patch of Apricot Parrot that I had up on the Supper Terrace in pots last spring.

DSC_0135This 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).

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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).

DSC_0241Now I love my new DSLR, but my pea-brain has still to fathom its complexity.

DSC_0214I kept thinking when I looked at the pictures of my red tulip that I’d got the colour balance wrong.

DSC_0220There 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.

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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 …

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