Knitting together nicely

On days when I am not working, I like to get up early and have a little quiet wander around the garden.  The dogs come with me, and we have a good sniff around.  I thought you might like to come with me this morning.

Let’s start with the rose garden.  This is my absolute favourite hardy geranium, ‘Anne Thomson’.  I have a lot of favourites.  But Anne is just fabulous.  She has brightest magenta flowers with an orange filament, in a perfect little cup-shape.  She will start flowering some time this week, and will not stop until December.

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ with Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ immediately behind, and geums and alliums behind this.

The sight of all this foliage knitting together inspired the title of this post.  I love the way that the perennials have closed the gaps so that there is no bare soil visible.

I plant my perennials in groups of three so that they have more impact.  My hardy perennial guru Claire Austin advises that we plant three hardy perennials per square metre.  Although plants do vary in their spread, this guide has served me well over the years.

I’m sure I have said it before, but Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is a darling. Her foliage, as you can see, is a wonderful dark green, edged with burgundy. In about 10 days I think she will wow us with her warm apricot blooms with Heaven-sent heavenly scent.

Clockwise from left: Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ foliage, Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’, Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’ (just peeping in), Geranium ‘Azure Rush’.

I notice the alliums and geums are trying to get into every photo, so let’s indulge them.

Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’ and Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’.

‘Hilltop Beacon’ is my absolute favourite Geum.  They are a wonderful soft peachy apricot, with just a hint of pink, and their dark stems are a purplish burgundy.  They look even more divine from the side or from behind, with their gently arching heads.  Their petals are the texture of undulating silk.  The bees love them, tickling them and making them nod seductively.  And I LOVE apricot and purple together.

Do you see a wild animal in the background?  That’s Ziggy photo-bombing this time.

Time to move on?  This is a nice composition of purples.  I love the structure of Lupin flowers.  If you can, zoom in on a green one to fully appreciate its incredible architecture.  It is a bit like the Guerkin in the City of London.

Aquilegia ‘Hensol’s Harebell’ (foreground) and Lupinus ‘Thunderclouds’ (behind).

Next door to the aquilegias and lupins is the lovely Centaurea ‘Purple Heart’.  This has really plumped out since last year.  It is looking lush and lovely.  It may get mildew by late summer.  If it does, I will cut it to the ground and it will sprout nice new foliage and more flowers.  Centaureas (perennial cornflowers) are hard-working plants, flowering continuously through to November.

Centaurea ‘Purple Heart’.  Rosa ‘England’s Rose’ is behind to the left, with Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ in the blue pots.  Oh, is that the alliums again in the background?

Let’s skip over to the lime tree now.  This shady patch is home to a choisya, some euphorbias and hellebores.  It is a calm patch of greens before we get to the Bright Border.

Choisya with Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ and Helleborus foetidus. Oh, and guess what? Alliums and geums.

On to the Bright Border, and Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’ is giving Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’ a run for its money.  The textures in the bright border are far more spiky and challenging than in the rose garden.  It is designed to make you sit up and notice it, whereas the rose garden is soft pillowy billowiness.

Clockwise from left: Peony ‘Kansas’ buds, Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’, galdioli foliage, Alchemilla mollis and Hemerocallis foliage.

I have planted a lot of crimson peonies in the bright border, and they are bulking up nicely.  There are ‘Kansas’, ‘Karl Rosenfield’ and ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’.

Paeonia ‘Kansas’ with Lupinus ‘Gallery Red’ behind and Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae in the background.

Rose foliage has been delighting me this spring.  Here is the bright green of ‘Thomas a Beckett’. Its thorns are translucent scarlet.

Clockwise from top left: Rosa ‘Thomas a Beckett’, Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, Paeonia ‘Karl Rosenfield’, Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’. Geranium ‘Brookside’ is centre.

Another Centaurea, this time ‘Jordy’ is going great-guns.  Can you see another rose, ‘Benjamin Britten’ just peeping through from behind?  He has wonderful red-tinged foliage, and will have incredible bright coral-pink flowers soon.

Centaurea ‘Jordy’. Rosa ‘Benjamin Britten in the background, Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ to the right and Alchemilla in front.

Before you look at the next couple of pics, you might like to have a quick squizz at how this area looked six weeks ago, here.  Just scroll down to ‘Rose Torture’ to see my spider-like arrangement of Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’.  I am happy to say that Charles seems to be relishing my firm hand.  He has survived being pegged down, and has produced a wide network of flowering stems (He is the low-to-the-ground rose; the red-tipped one on the right is ‘Royal Jubilee’.  Hold on to your hats for the beauty of this rose in a couple of weeks).

Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’ having been pegged down on the right; Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ between, Rosa ‘Royal Jubilee on the right. More alchemilla pillows in the front.

Here is Thugs’ Corner:

Rosa ‘Reine de Violettes’ fighting with raspberries, Centranthus ruber, Knautia macedonica, Alchemilla mollis and Geranium magnificum.

It is a total bun-fight in there, but no one’s getting left out. They seem to be urging one another on to more rampant growth.

Now Ruby is getting hungry (she is a very greedy dog), so let’s speed up around the allotment, all very nice and ordered, round to the front of the house.  I like the way this Hydrangea anomola subsp. petiolaris is spilling over the front of the bed.  It reminds me of ‘The Magic Porridge Pot‘ spilling out of the doors and windows of the house, and off down the road.  There is another Centaurea, this time the lovely blue common-or-garden Centaurea montana.   It’s a little bedraggled as we had heavy rain last night.

Hydrangea anomola subsp. petiolaris with Centaurea montana.

Round the corner past more peonies…


Ruby is getting quite insistent now.  I have to feed the two dogs separately because Ruby has no table manners.  The speed with which she wolfs down her breakfast is, frankly, disgusting.  If we don’t watch her she will have Ziggy’s too.  He sits down to eat, tucks in a little napkin, and gently picks at his breakfast, one tender morsel at a time.  Ruby inhales hers.  Then, if you give her a squeeze as she walks past, she will let rip with the most enormous belch.

Sorry to end on an unsavoury note.  Go back to the lovely foliage to freshen up if you like. Hope you enjoyed our little wander.  We can have a cup of tea now.

35 Comments Add yours

  1. pommepal says:

    I’m sitting having my afternoon cup of coffee and so enjoyed the virtual stroll around with you and your dogs. Your garden is pure delight, but I can just imagine the amount of love, care and very hard work it takes to keep it looking so lush. And not a weed in sight…

    1. Ali says:

      That’s my secret – a morning walk to spot any stray weeds!

      1. pommepal says:

        Ah yes the 5 minute walk that morphs into a morning weeding session. Been there done that!!!

  2. A lovely time in the garden is seeing the buds and just waiting for the flowers to burst open, knowing the best has yet to come. What a beautiful garden.

    1. Ali says:

      May is full of promise, isn’t it?

  3. I had no idea there were perennial cornflowers, adding them to my wishlist! Our garden is still a few weeks behind yours and the tulips are still the only thing flowering at the moment, but very much enjoy reading about your garden and the dogs! ☺

    1. Ali says:

      They are wonderful aren’t they? And they self-seed really easily to lots of free plants.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It all looks wonderful! Great photos. It is like winter here again….where have all the seasons gone?!

    1. Ali says:

      Oh no! Hope it warms up for you.

  5. Such gorgeous gardens. I especially love the purple heart. Such hard work to keep it tidy 💞

    1. Ali says:

      I just do little bits here and there really – you can do a lot in a ten minute stroll!

  6. annpappas says:

    All looking so beautiful and so lush and GREEN.

  7. It is so lovely to see everything filling out. Your garden looks fabulous.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you – I am happy to be able to share it.

  8. bcparkison says:

    Someday…..Mine will never be as grand as your garden but I do hope it recovers all of Babe’s digging….I am loving all of those Peonies.

    1. Ali says:

      I’m really looking forward to them too. It takes them so long to open!

  9. Lovely, lovely Ali! I especially love your euphorbia, lupins, peony combo….❤️

    1. Ali says:

      That is a good one!

  10. Heyjude says:

    Astonishing how quickly things bulk up. Not a patch of bare earth to be seen, and yes, what did you do with all the weeds? I can’t wait to see all those peonies in flower. (Actually I might just go and look at your peony category and see what you posted previously…)
    Thanks for the walk around your lovely garden.

    1. Ali says:

      Oh no! I think you might just find peony foliage! But I will be posting very soon!

      1. Heyjude says:

        Too late! That’ll teach me to try and spoil the surprise. I shall wait patiently now…. [dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum] what? STILL not flowering?
        😀 😀

  11. Lovely stroll with my morning coffee! I have a lot of the same plants growing here, but mine are a bit behind yours. One of our dogs long ago used to steal entire bunches of bananas off the kitchen counter and devour them, peel and all! 😂 She got to them no matter how far back we put them. Have a great week Ali!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you! A bunch of bananas is such an odd thing for a dog to steal! Ziggy is a slipper stealer. But he just likes to cuddle up with them.

      1. She fit right in with her vegetarian family! Her second favorite were oranges. Peeled and divided into slices! Her nickname was Piggy! 😂 Ziggy the slipper stealer sounds adorable!

      2. Ali says:

        Ah, bless! He is utterly gorgeous.

  12. Isn’t it amazing how the garden fills out in such a short time? Ali, the photos are gorgeous! I acquired my love of geums from watching British garden shows 🙂 and have Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and ‘Peach Daiquiri’ and love them for both the foliage and flower. My hardy geraniums are doing their lush flower and foliage thing too. Yes, you have exactly described that garden phenomenon of “knitting together” – a wonderful post!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you so much. They are both lovely geums. I may have ‘Totally Tangerine’ – I bought what I though was ‘Mrs J. Bradshaw’, which is scarlet, but I got two lovely orange ones.

  13. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Talk about green -I’m so green with envy over the lush growth and beauty of your garden you must be able to feel it over there. It’s exactly as I’d like my garden to be with those full and magnificent borders. I’ve already written down several things to try here, when only yesterday I told myself I should stop buying! I like the idea of planting several of the same type of plant together. Is Ruby a Labrador? ‘Hoovering’ sounds like a lab I used to know!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Jane. No, Ruby is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Very soppy – needy and greedy!

  14. Christine says:

    We had two dogs with similar table manners to yours but when the greedy one died the dainty one lost interest in eating for quite a while. I think it was a bit of a game for them. So envious of the lushness of your borders – there is just not enough water here in Australia to maintain that level of green billowiness (live that word)

    1. Ali says:

      Ah… Yes, Ziggy goes to pieces if Ruby ever goes out without him.

  15. Chloris says:

    I enjoyed the walk round your lovely garden, everything is looking wonderful and you have sold me on that lovely geum, I shall seek it out. Of course, I wouldn’t dream of doing the tour anti- clockwise. Is that true about Japanese people? Japanese wisterias climb in a clockwise direction unlike Chinese wisterias which climb in an anti-clock wise fashion.
    I love Lady Emma Hamilton too, such gorgeous foliage and always so healthy.

  16. Sam says:

    I really love your planting combinations (orange and purple is my absolute favourite colour combo too) and it’s interesting to see how well blended your plants are. I’m hoping our borders will look this good in years to come.

  17. What a beautiful way to start your day. My garden is not elaborate, but this reminds me to spend more time each day out back in the morning. Thank you for your beautiful pictures, Ali. They inspire my imagination.

    1. Ali says:

      It is a lovely way to start the day, even if you just have five minutes. Thank you Shelly for your wonderful encouragement.

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