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.
I tend to go around clockwise. I was listening to something on the radio recently that said that people from Western countries move around museums in a clockwise direction, whilst in Japan it tends to be anticlockwise. Can anyone corroborate this?
Anyway, 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.
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, daughter of David Austin, Rose God, 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. The plants in these pictures are only in their second year. Last year, they were only 5-10cm across, but now are all at least 30cm across.
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.
I notice the alliums and geums are trying to get into every photo, so let’s indulge them. Come on, boys.
They are the stars of May, aren’t they? ‘Hilltop Beacon’ is my absolute favourite geum. I bought three plants from a local NGS Open Garden, the wonderful 1 Brickwall Cottages (which houses the National Collection of Geums) three years ago. I divided these after their first year to make six, then again the next year to make twelve. 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 tower in London, which I watched being built when I lived near it and worked at the Barbican Theatre (20 years ago! 😱) It spiralled ever higher into the sky, the most beautiful building in mid-construction.
Sorry about the wheelbarrow in the background. But now you know I do actually do work in the garden and don’t just wander around sniffing flowers. I was swopping spent tulips for new dahlias yesterday.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
Rose foliage has been delighting me this spring. Here is the bright green of ‘Thomas a Beckett’. Its thorns are translucent scarlet.
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.
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).
Also, if you want to see the speed of growth, skip back to ‘Raspberries vs Roses’ in this post from six weeks ago. Look at ‘Thug’s Corner’ now:
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.
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 that distorts the air around her with its warm blast. There are aftershocks. So she now has to forage for her food outside. I broadcast it across the lawn. Rather than her customary nanosecond if she eats from a bowl, it takes her 10 minutes to hoover it up from the grass. But we still get the burp.
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.