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”.
Basically 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.
In ‘Thug’s 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.
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.
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),
and 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.
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?
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.
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:
And here 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.
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.
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.
I will leave you with a peony I bought mainly for the name, ‘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.
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