After four days away

We returned home this evening after four days away.  We were aware that there has been lots of rain, with localised flooding, though this has largely receded.

We stopped to pick up the dogs from their local B&B accommodation.  When I asked how they’d been I was expecting a cheery “absolutely fine!”  Instead, their landlady looked a little troubled and said Ziggy had been making a nuisance of himself.  She referred to him still being “intact” and therefore “a bit silly” and “not taking no for an answer”.

He has made a name for himself as a local sex-pest on Millennium Field.  The two dogs who have also been staying at the Doggy B&B have kept themselves to themselves (under the sofa) because Ziggy has been bothering them.  Constantly.

We discussed the subject gravely in the car on the way back.  We agreed that they are coming off.  I’ll be ringing the vet first thing tomorrow.

We arrived home with the usual frenzy, throwing dog baskets and rucksacks down in the hall for the next person to trip over and throw halfway up the stairs for the next person to trip over and throw down the stairs for the next person…

I escaped all this and headed straight out to the garden.  It was warm and close, no sun at all, and very humid.

When we left on Monday morning, there were a few roses and peonies just about to flower, so I was looking forward to seeing which ones were out.

My rose hedge of ‘Wild Edric’ (featured in The smell of the sweet shop) is now in full swing.  The grass at their feet is saturated with rainwater.


Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’ which divides the allotment from the flower garden, has opened her marmalade blooms.  I love the soft, open texture of this rose.  It smells, curiously, of apple strudel.

Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’

In Thugs’ Corner  Geranium magnificum is now in full bloom, and the hybrid perpetual rose ‘Reine de Violettes’ is just starting her first flush.


I take back everything I have ever said about this rose. My mum and I both planted it in our gardens last year, and did nothing but moan about it all summer. The blooms balled (where they petals stick together). It sent out great six foot shoots so you couldn’t see the flower at the top when it opened. The flowers were pretty sparse.

Well, not this year.  She is looking marvellous.  She tends to have clusters of flowers, with the central one opening first, surrounded by two or three buds of later-opening flowers.

Rosa ‘Reine de Violettes’

She is pink, with a touch of mauve, which becomes more pronounced with age, and is described by David Austin as the colour of Parma Violets.

Rosa ‘Reine de Violettes’

Hybrid Perpetual roses are classed as old roses, but they were in the second wave of old roses.

A Very Brief History of Old Roses

The first wave of old roses were the Gallica, Damask, Alba, Moss and Centifolia roses.  They have one magnificent flush of flowers in June.  These are the most romantic of roses: soft, velvety flowers, divine fragrance, graceful, arching growth, health and vigour.

Rose-breeders wanted more.  They crossed these roses with species roses that repeat-flowered.  This resulted in the second wave of repeat-flowering old roses: the China, Portland, Bourbon, and Hybrid Perpetual roses.  They retain the lovely plush texture and heavenly scent of the old rose, though can be more prone to disease. 

Rosa ‘Reine de Violettes’ is fighting it out in ‘Thug’s Corner’ with raspberry canes, Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian),

Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian)

and Knautia macedonica.

Knautia macedonica

It is a glorious tumble, and the bees love it.


Next to ‘Thug’s Corner’ is Death-trap Corner.  The white peony, just flecked with magenta, which I’m guessing is ‘Festiva Maxima’, was illuminated as the sun put in an appearance.


Here is the Gallica rose ‘Charles de Mills’.  This has collected the confetti of blossom from the rowan tree above.  It looks like sequins on a silk ball dress.  The rowan tree was buzzing loudly, as if there is a wasp-nest or bee-hive in there.  We will investigate tomorrow.

Gallica rose ‘Charles de Mills’, lightly sequined with rowan blossom, and nestled with Alchemilla mollis.

Further along the Bright Border is the Peony ‘Karl Rosenfield’, with Geranium ‘Brookside’.  This peony is looking a bit rough around the edges this year.  I wonder if the snow and freezing winds in February and March, the heatwave in April and the torrential downpours in the last few days have been a bit trying?

Peony ‘Karl Rosenfield’ with Geranium ‘Brookside’ in the background.

Here is another peony, ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’.  I had to scramble over to the back of the Bright Border to take this photo.  There are a lot of weeds growing along the back fence now, which have, of course, quadrupled in the last four days.  I’ll pretend I haven’t seen them.  ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’ can keep an eye for now.  I love the folds upon folds of softly ruffled petals in this peony.

Peony ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’

We moved to this house almost exactly four years ago.  The peonies and poppies were in full-bloom, including this one, Papaver orientale, which may be ‘Mrs Perry’.  It was growing in a great big clump where the compost heap now is.  I have transplanted bits of it around the garden, including the rose garden.  Some of these clumps seem to have turned red in the process, which is not what I wanted in the rose garden, but you can’t argue with nature.  This one is exactly what I want in the rose garden.  Only it is growing up against the oil tank instead.


I love the ink-splats on the skirt of a poppy, as if it has been misbehaving at the back of the class. I also love the velvet on the top of the pepper-pot, and the rich-black stamens, like false-eyelashes. Poppies don’t shave their legs. They have thrillingly stubbly stems. They don’t give a hoot.

Let’s drift over to the rose garden.  My Mystery Rose (see The Rose and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) has settled down into a consistent pale pink with just a hint of peach.  We still don’t know his back-story.  He is very definitely a face-planter rose.  I spent about ten minutes burying my face in his blooms.  Now, I may have been imagining this for Cathy at Words and Herbs, but I fancied I had the distinct whiff of Sherbert Lemons.  My nose is very suggestible.


Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor’ has flowered for the first time.  Here she is with Gladiolus communis:

Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor’ and Gladiolus communis

And here with Geranium psilostemon:

Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor’ with Geranium psilostemon

I love her fizzle.  She’s like a party-popper going off.  She’s quite delicate at the moment, but I wonder if the blooms will get bigger in future years.

Another herbaceous peony is ‘Cytherea’.  She starts off this mouth-watering watermelon-raspberry pink, but will fade to cream over the next day or two.  Some peonies have this Cinderella quality.  They are with us for such a short time.  We start grieving for our imminent loss almost the moment they open.

Peony ‘Cytherea’

Two weeks ago the rose garden was dominated by orange-apricot geums and purple alliums.  I deadheaded these before we went away, and the colour-palette has changed completely into its June froth of lilac, white, pink and crimson.  Here are Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ and ‘England’s Rose’, more Gladioli communis, Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor’, Geranium ‘Orion’, Geranium psilostemon and Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’.


Two of my new roses greeted me.  This is ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’.  I love the layers upon layers of ruffles.

Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’

And this slightly deeper and slightly blue-tinged rose is ‘Princess Anne’.  This bloom is quite small, and I am looking forward to more.  I love the softly scalloped edges of the petals.

Rosa ‘Princess Anne’

I will leave you with a peony I bought mainly for the name, ‘Gay Paree’.

Peony ‘Gay Paree’

It is all a peony should be.  A pink and cream powder-puff in soft focus, a little bit ruffled, and very very flouncy.

The garden always amazes me when I have been away, just how much it changes in a few days.  This week has been no exception.  I look forward to sharing more changes with you over the next couple of weeks, as we approach peony and rose perfection.  I think I have to squeeze a Sissinghurst Visit into this weekend, so stay tuned.

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors. 

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder. 

41 Comments Add yours

  1. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I so enjoy your rose descriptions Ali, they’re like exotic friends all with different personalities.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s interesting you say this, Jane. I just visited Sissinghurst and found I had an emotional attachment to the roses I grow and know well, but didn’t feel so close to the varieties I don’t grow! There is something about seeing a plant through the seasons and years…

  2. Cathy says:

    Poor Ziggy – I hope he doesn’t lose that exuberant desire to jump through high grass!
    Isn’t that funny, a pink rose smelling of lemons. I somehow assumed it would have to be yellow… Love that peony called Nelly. 🙂 By the way, my camera is in front of me: Canon EOS700D, with a Canon EFS 18-55 lens.

    1. Ali says:

      That had always been our concern, Cathy. He is such a unique little personality, we didn’t want to tame that. But I think the time has come, and I think his eccentricities will remain (falling off the sofa surely can’t be connected with his man-parts?)
      Thank you so much for the camera details and especially the lens! I am going to start saving…

  3. These are absolutely beautiful pictures of your garden, I particularly love the last peony … all froth and perfection! Your mention of Sissinghurst made me wonder … sadly I never went there with my late mother, I wish I had. We used to go to Wisley a lot together and other gardens. Since I lost my mother, I have remarried (sorry you’re getting my life history here) and I am wondering if I should ask my new mother-in-law to go to Sissinghurst with me. I know she’d absolutely love to be asked and to go, but it feels as though I’m replacing my mother. Sorry to offload here … I could ask my sister but it’s too far for her. Any thoughts? Gosh, all this after your beautiful post … Crikey, I’m in pieces. Katie x

    1. Ali says:

      Oh Lors, don’t apologise, Katie, I love an emotional dilemma! Well. I suppose it depends on what sort a relationship you have with your mother-in-law and if she would be attuned to your emotional state? There are MILs and MILs if you know what I mean? I’m very fortunate now. Would it be therapeutic to talk to your mum (in your head!) as you walk around? I know, sounds a little mad, but I have always found comfort in this, and it might soothe you? Your mum would understand the regrets you have and forgive you, you know, as you would your child. xxx

      1. Now that is great advice … not mad at all, because in actual fact I do talk to her in my head (occasionally out loud if I’m alone!) most days. Thank you so much, I do appreciate it. I loved your post, genuinely, and it struck such a chord with me. It was wonderful. Thanks. Katie xx

      2. Ali says:

        Thank you Katie. Gardens are such intimate spaces and bound up with family memories. Those times with your mum sound precious. x

      3. Oh yes … thank you x

  4. Gorgeous roses and peonies. “Thugs corner” made me chuckle, we have horsetail in our garden and I’ve been planting lots of competition, particularly any flowers with a reputation for being a bit of a bully. ☺

    1. Ali says:

      I think that’s the way to deal with pernicious weeds – beat them at their own game!

  5. pommepal says:

    4 days away at that time of year brings such a change to your garden what a magnificent display I love your colour combinations

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Pauline, I think colour is probably the most important element to me.

  6. I adore peonies. Your pictures are gorgeous. Well done.

  7. FlowerAlley says:

    Poor Ziggy. I do not blame you though. My Barley had to be fixed. Lovely flowers.

    1. Ali says:

      Terrible that they have to be fixed, isn’t it? It feels wrong!

      1. FlowerAlley says:

        My husband has been fixed. I offered to do it, but he insisted on a surgeon

      2. Ali says:

        😂 I think this is why Stevie has been resisting! He doesn’t want Ziggy to set a precedent. But you know if it makes him more biddable…

  8. Heyjude says:

    Your garden just gets better and better as the year progresses. Roses and peonies – gorgeous – and so many!

  9. Another lovely post! My Shropshire Lad is now coming into flower and I have a couple of photos if you’re interested. Don’t think I can add them here so let me know if you’d like me to email them to you.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you so much Elizabeth! My mum’s has flowered now, and proved that mine is definitely not ‘A Shropshire Lad’. I will continue my quest to find out – ‘Aloha’ is my next line of enquiry! Thanks again for your help!

  10. This is wonderful Ali. Your descriptions are so vivid!

  11. March Picker says:

    I am simply in awe. I wish you lived next door.

    1. Ali says:

      Ah…thank you! You would be welcome for morning coffee.

  12. I feel like Pavlov’s dogs. Seriously! I’m positively salivating at all those gorgeous flowers. I can feel the texture of their petals… I couldn’t help but chuckle at the names you’ve given parts of your garden. Thank you for sharing such lovely things. And a doggy chocolate for Ziggy. He might need it.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment. Yes, I think Ziggy is in for a fair bit of pampering. Poor soul has no idea what we’ve got planned for him.

  13. bcparkison says:

    I would have had a hard time leaving for fear it would all be gone when I came back. Beautiful photos.

    1. Ali says:

      I do get separation anxiety! Am terrible before our 2 week summer holiday!

  14. A. JoAnn says:

    Your roses are so beautiful. The Lady of Shalott is my fave, I think.

    1. Ali says:

      She is a lovely.

  15. Hope the vets visit goes well and your garden is amazing I love it giving me so much to think about #MyGloriousGardens

  16. The phrase “sex-pest” is hilarious :).

  17. Oh I love Wild Eric as a rose hedge! My mum has this Rose as a hedge too and it looks so pretty and neat. Poor dog! Did he visit the vet already?? We had a dog growing up who used to wander…..I wonder how many poor dogs got his attention (we lived in the middle of nowhere so maybe not that many!). You know me…peony nut here so lovely to see yours. I haven’t seen Nellie Shaylor before -it’s magnificent. We have a peony nursery near us so a trip there may be in order. They have many new varieties too to tempt me….I’m running out of space so perhaps a new peony bed may be in order?!
    Thank you for joining in with #MyGloriousGardens. It is always a pleasure to read your posts; I really look forward to it! As always, they have been shared on all my social media sites so I hope you have some new readers. Take carr. See you in early July. X

    1. Ali says:

      ‘Nellie Shaylor’ is gorgeous. Available from Claire Austin!

  18. Ann says:

    You have a beautiful garden! I love all the pink! My pink mini rose hasn’t bloomed in a while, but I see some new growth peeking through, so hopefully, she’ll bloom soon. I love how much a garden can change in just a few days. Thank you for sharing! #mygloriousgardens

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you, Ann.

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