We all have one, don’t we?
This is mine.
It is at the corner of the rose garden, next to the wall of the house. It is tricky because it is bone-dry and has poor, stony soil that bakes hard to concrete in the summer.
We inherited this rather lovely shrub rose, ‘Marjory Fair’. The bees love it.
And a fig tree. We thought the fig had left this life. The tips of the branches went shrivelled and black, and when we scraped at the bark there was no green underneath. But, two weeks ago, we spotted growth!
We might have to have a year without figs, but we are very happy it has survived. These trees produce the most succulent, juicy, ripe figs. The children hate them, so Stevie and I guzzle them greedily.
I let Stevie dig up an inherited scentless climbing rose next to the bay window, and we now have an apricot instead. It has lovely fragile foliage.
I scattered poppy seeds here (Papaver rhoeas) and I let them self-seed each year. They are perfect for these bone-dry conditions. Here one is, hugging the fig.
I love the hairy buds of poppies.
This seems to be a lovely vermillion-orange strain, which I adore with the bright pink of Penstemon ‘Garnet’, magenta-purple Geranium psiolstemon and zingy green of Alchemilla mollis. Like in so many of my planting schemes, I think it is the Alchemilla which makes it fizz. It is the bicarb of the plant world. It is another self-seeder, contributing to this corner’s low-maintenance.
This is one of my favourite penstemons, ‘Garnet’. It is fairly short, at about 30cm tall. I think it is the dark stems that make it such a treasure. Penstemon buds are hermetically sealed at this stage. Any moment they will magically unseal, and the bees will go mad for the riches inside.
I planted Lupin ‘The Pages’ here, which I grew from seed. I ran out of room elsewhere in the garden. I’m glad I did. I love the cherry-red with the other brights. Pea flowers are one of my favourite flower-forms. Remember the kayaks? (See Lupin-otropolis).
I thought I would try an unusual view of a lupin. I think that fluffy bit is the mantle-like carpel that they throw off once the flower opens. Isn’t it satisfying how the next storey down of flowers down nestle into the gaps between the ones above? Nature has the best designs.
I am always looking for more places to grow hardy geraniums. ‘Tiny Monster’ seems to like it here. I love the orange-fuchsia anthers at the centre of this geranium, contrasted with the black-plum tips.
Here’s another pic. I think the flower on the left is newly opened. Once the anthers (the pollen-producing male part) have produced their pollen, they drop off. The stigma (the female part, landing place for pollen, with a tubule to the ovary) becomes curly, like the right-hand flower.
Oh, and there’s a lot of self-seeded Verbena bonariensis, also a favourite for dry and difficult places. I like that the mauve flowers just lightly echo Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’. The throat of the flowers are a more vivid violet. I also like it against the terracotta bricks. This flower is also loved by insects. I have seen hawkmoths feeding from them, which is quite exciting!
Here’s another little geranium, this time the appropriately-named ‘Sweet Heidy’. This is a modest little flower, not produced in great profusion, but every one treasured. It is especially delicate-looking I think, because there are gaps between the petals, allowing the green carpel to be seen behind the petals. And I do love the dark purple veining and anthers.
All of this area is really just a happy accident. A couple of inherited plants, some tried-and-trusted bomb-proof plants, a sprinkling of seed, a seed-raised plant which wouldn’t fit anywhere else, and some little gems to liven it up.
For those who are interested in the capers of Ziggy (see Boing, boing, boing! and After four days away), he is currently sleeping at my feet, feeling a little sore. Something about those poppy buds reminded me of him.
You might enjoy a conversation Stevie and I had this morning, whilst brushing teeth. To give you some context, Ziggy wasn’t allowed breakfast because of his pre-op.
Me: Ziggy’s a bit confused.
Stevie: Why? Because he had no food?
Me: mmm (through bubbling mouth).
Stevie: Well imagine how confused he’s going to be later, when he has no testicles.
Me: [spluttering sounds]
When I went to pick him up from the Vet’s he whimpered at me. He is curled up in his basket. He lifts his head up every now and then to give me a reproachful look.
The haunted look of a dog who has lost his trust in the world.