After the Storm…

“There is peace even in the storm.”

Vincent van Gogh

Last night we had the most brilliant electrical storm.  I woke up to torrents of rain cascading down the gutters and thundering on the roof.  The windows were open and so the curtains were billowing.  Then came the thunder and lightning.

I love a good storm, and so I got up to watch.  One of my daughters joined me.  We crept to the bay window in the lounge, craning our necks to see the sky.

The rain stopped, and the lightning took over.

The colours were amazing.  From this window, the sky lit up pink and purple, with a mountain-range of smoky grey cutting it across the middle.  The lightning would follow this line, a jagged horizontal, but dancing around.

I love getting snapshots of the garden with the irregular, split second flashes.  I could see the lupin spires and the lashed heads of poppies and roses, filtered in a strange blue-green light.

Every now and again there would be a particularly impressive flash, causing us to exclaim and point.  The sky split open, shattering, then mended.

It rumbled away, the broiling boil giving way to a low simmer away to the North.  We yawned.  Stephen had woken up, and so we watched from our bathroom window for another ten minutes.  From here the light was champagne-yellow and smudgy orange.  I opened the window as far as it would go and stuck my head out.  I could hear the starlings’ weird burblings from behind the trees.

This morning I woke up at 5, and had that excitement to see what the storm had left behind.  From upstairs there was a low rolling mist across the fields.  I haven’t quite got so bold as to be rambling across the bridge and over stiles in my dressing gown, and so I couldn’t capture that, but I did photograph the garden.

Here’s the sky first, looking fairly serene, with only a memory of storm-tossed cloud.


At first glance, the rose garden appears to have emerged unscathed.  The well-engineered lupins are still upright.


The gladioli always wear raindrops well.


Roses too, can just shake their heads.  I love the swirl at the centre of this rose ‘Munstead Wood’.  It is like the eye of a storm.

Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’

The poppies, however, are completely undone.


You can see the mist across the fields behind the bright border. I love the gentle layering of trees, and the damp diagonals of the post-and-rail fence.


The clematis covering an obelisk to the left of the rowan tree is not towering quite so high this morning.  Its quiff has toppled.  It will be back up by lunchtime.


Here is a foxglove in the corner that is becoming known as ‘Deathtrap Corner’.


Foxgloves are of course toxic, as are the Euphorbias that have made this place their home. For a touch of jeopardy when weeding, I have pegged down my spring-loaded Gallica rose ‘Charles de Mills’. They join the encroaching nettles and brambles leaning in from the other side of the fence. And yesterday I found a nightshade. Not ‘Deadly’, but ‘Bittersweet Nightshade’. It is rather beautiful and subtle and nuanced in this otherwise obvious minefield.

(Sorry for the blurry photo, but I was balancing on one leg trying to avoid nettles on the one hand and brambles on the other, simultaneously trying not to trigger the rose snares or poke myself in the eye with peony canes.


My cut flower raised beds are growing along nicely now, and the rain will have soaked them through.  Rain is always so much more effective than watering.  The plants know the difference.  For those who enjoyed my posts about trees, (The Ugly Duckling Becomes a Beautiful Swan and Peach Fuzz) the walnut is the large round tree to the left, and the peach is to the right.


Here are a couple of close-ups, with Cosmos bipinatus ‘Xanthos’ in the raised bed, and some dripping cherries.

I keep meaning to show you this marvellous tree, which Stevie has identified as Robinia pseudoacacia, possibly ‘Casque Rouge’.  I have long been a devotee of ‘Frisia’ thanks to my tree-obsessed dad.  We inherited this lovely tree with the house, and every May it produces this mass of pinky-purple pea-like flowers, dripping from its branches a bit like laburnum.  My lucky younger daughter has the tree right outside her bedroom window.  It is a joy.


This next photo demonstrates a problem I have been having with my photography.  I took the photo above with my iPhone.  It does ok close-ups, but doesn’t blur the background as I would like it to.  Stephen’s old SLR camera does blur the background nicely, but the colour is wrong (see below).  It looks too bleached out.  But I do like the twinkly background.  I have messed with the settings (nothing will induce me to read the instructions) and my techy older daughter has fiddled, but to no avail.  Ho hum.


On into the allotment, we must pause to admire Stevie’s grapevines.


And his elegantly entwined runner beans.  I love that they space each coil perfectly.  They seem to be twisting in an anti-clockwise direction.  Is this always the case, I wonder?


At the bottom of the allotment, I have guerrilla-gardened a hedge of roses.  There are Rosa rugosa, both ‘Rubra’ and ‘Alba’, and Rosa ‘Wild Edric’.  The Rosa rugosa were bought as whips at £1.50 a piece.  ‘Wild Edric’ was not.  He is plumper by far, and produces a mass of equally plumptious blooms.  They are just waiting to burst.  I will have to devote a whole post to this hedge, such is my pride in it!

Rosa ‘Wild Edric’

Do you remember Meadow Update! Seedballs! ?  Here is how the experiment is going.  Not exactly a softly swaying swishy meadow yet.  But patience is required.  The plug plants (right at the back and difficult to see) are starting to produce flower-stems.  They have all survived.  The scattered seed had a good germination rate, though is dominated at present by one species which could be forget-me-nots, with a smattering of poppies.  The seedballs are a bit of a mystery.  It is hard to know if they germinated or not, or whether the sparse germination is just seeds that were either present in the soil or have blown in on the breeze.  I guess I will know when they get bigger.  So, still a work-in-progress!


Before we go in for our first cup of tea, can I just invite you to admire my lime tree, Tillia x europaea?  It is just dripping with loveliness.

Tilia x europaea




39 Comments Add yours

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. I thank my lucky stars every day. x

  1. No storms at all here, and I’m a wee bit jealous because I love thunder and lightning, and it sounds like you had quite the show! ☺ Good to see most of your garden survived unscathed.

    1. Ali says:

      It was a reminder to tie in and stake plants today!

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    It isn’t only the lime tree that’s dripping with loveliness. It all looks just splendid and none the worse for the storm. Those lupins…..

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks Jane! X

  3. pommepal says:

    I’m always amazed how much better everything looks after a good down pour as opposed to when I use the spear pump. Everything is glowing after your storm

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, even if I try to replicate rain falling slowly and really seeping in, it’s not the same.

      1. pommepal says:

        I once read it has to do with the chemicals, or something similar that is in rain.

      2. Ali says:

        Our tap water is very chalky, so that would make sense.

  4. lovely tour of your garden. I’m glad everything has survived. No storms or rain here.

    1. Ali says:

      And all calm again today here!

  5. What an amazing garden! I love it and that everything is so far in advance of us here in Cornwall. Our Foxgloves and Lupins are still in tight bud as are the Poppies.I’ll enjoy yours as we await ours. Thank you. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Oh, that’s interesting. I wonder if Kent is generally a week or so ahead of Cornwall? I think we are always drier – it can be a bit of a worry with drought here, which I think isn’t such a problem for you?

      1. It certainly isn’t! We seemed to start our Spring earlier but now we have slowed down, not having the heat you seem to be getting thought we have had a warm few weeks with the rain returning last night.

      2. Ali says:

        The weather is actually endlessly fascinating, isn’t it? No wonder we talk about it so much!

  6. myplaidheart says:

    Your garden looks radiant after the storm. I’m sorry about your poppies! I know how you feel. Our peonies had just opened and were looking extraordinary when they got dumped on by buckets of heavy rain. The end result is not a pretty sight. Now I have to with a whole year to see their beauty again.

    1. Ali says:

      Oh no! The peonies that we’re fully out (not many) are sitting lower, but have survived. But I must say that the intersectional peony ‘Watermelon Wine’ has not lasted as long as I would like. The first flower is dropping petals already.

  7. Heyjude says:

    Beautiful post Ali. We had a lot of rain during the night too, but I didn’t hear any storms. Awoke to thick fog and some plant damage. I will learn eventually NOT to plant tall flowers unless they can cope with the wind here. You are much further along with your flowers and those lupins are gorgeous. And I love your wild rose hedgerow.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Jude. I am going round and tieing in supports today!

  8. bcparkison says:

    Every thing look very healthy. Natures rain make a world of difference.

    1. Ali says:

      Tap water is just not the same.

  9. sgeoil says:

    Lovely tour! I’m somewhat envious, but I do know a lot of hard work goes into all that beauty!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes. Fortunately it is work that I enjoy. X

      1. sgeoil says:

        That is the key!

  10. Eliza Waters says:

    Lovely garden views, Ali. It looks happy after its drink. I’m amazed at how strong the lupines are, standing straight after the lashing rain. The Robinia is gorgeous.
    Your camera dilemma may be a white balance issue. I usually tackle the problem post-processing on the computer.

    1. Ali says:

      Eliza, thank you so much for this – I will investigate, but that sounds like you may have solved my problems! xxx

  11. That Munstead Rose picture is breathtaking, and I love your pictures that have fences in them. And the fog! I grew up in Oregon, and I always feel amazingly at home when there is fog anywhere.

    1. Ali says:

      Munstead Wood is probably my favourite rose. It has amazingly subtle colour variations, soft texture and heavenly scent. Mist is underrated!

  12. Lovely garden and thanks for your wonderful description of the storm and the garden. I too love to watch storms and my husband I sometimes stand out on our back verandah to watch the sky light up, and our garden with it.

    1. Ali says:

      That sounds lovely. X

  13. Nicky says:

    No rain or storms here, which seems impossible when I see the news of elsewhere. I’m glad that your garden has mostly survived. Nature, in all it’s forms, is absolutely incredible.

    1. Ali says:

      I must confess I enjoy little bursts of extreme weather.

  14. What a wonderful post. I never stopped to think about the way the flowers feel about a storm. You opened a whole world for me. I love thunderstorms as well. I sit on my front porch before a storm begins and marvel at the wind.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment. X

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s