The garden that keeps on giving

I expected the rose garden to be lovely in June.  I had planned for continuous succession of flowers, but I didn’t realise it would be delighting me quite so much in July.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ with Geranium psilostemon and ‘G. ‘Orion’ and Rosa ‘Marjory Fair’ behind.

I am taking a ridiculous number of photos.


It’s just that there are so many lovely textures.  Ticklish ones…

Eryngium alpinum

Soft, bouncy ones…

Agastache ‘Blue Boa’

Bibbly-bobbly ones…

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’

Heavy, nodding ones…

Rosa ‘Jubilee Celebration’

light, dangly ones…

Fuchsia ‘Delta’s Sarah’

Stiff, spiky ones…

Echinops ritro

And light-as-a-feather ones.

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

When you brush your fingers through the salvia it releases its powerful smell.  It is almost astringent.  I’m never sure if I like it.

Whilst phlox smells (and tastes) slightly of honey.

Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’

When I was taking a photo in the middle of the bed, I kept getting warm waves of Rosa ‘Hansa’, a rich old rose scent.

Rosa ‘Hansa’

The scent seemed all the stronger in the sun, and perhaps because the blooms were just going over.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ just invites a nose with every bloom.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

The flowers are perfectly nose-shaped.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

She is cool and fresh in the morning,

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ with Rosa ‘Princess Anne’ and Geranium psilostemon behind.
Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ with Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ behind.

Heady in the afternoon (this bumble bee is so intoxicated he has fallen asleep inside her):


and thoughtful in the evening.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ with Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ behind.

‘Lady Em’ looks delicious with Penstemon ‘Raven’.

Penstemon ‘Raven’ with Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ behind.

Penstemon ‘Raven’ is another July favourite, taking over from Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’.

Penstemon ‘Raven’

It combines well with everything.  Hemerocallis ‘Zagora’…

Penstemon ‘Raven’ with Hemerocallis ‘Zagora’ behind.

And with Geranium ‘Azure Rush’ and Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’.


Rosa ‘Boscobel’ too has been flowering his socks off.

Rosa ‘Boscobel’

He too looks good with the ‘POW!’ cartoon splat of Hemerocallis ‘Zagora’.

Rosa ‘Boscobel’ with Hemerocallis ‘Zagora’

And with a blast of phlox.

Rosa ‘Boscobel’ and Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ has been providing some welcome icy cool.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’

Its paleness balances nicely with the gentle Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’.

Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’ with Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’

And provides a ghostly haze for Agastache ‘Blue Boa’.

Agastache ‘Blue Boa’ with Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ and Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’

Although agastache is good at producing its own aura.

Agastache ‘Blue Boa’

Here is Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ again, being warmed in the glow of Geranium psilostemon.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ with Agastache ‘Blue Boa’ in front and Geranium psilostemon behind.

Now some punch with Hemerocallis ‘Summer Wine’.

Hemerocallis ‘Summer Wine’

I do love the opulent texture of hemerocallis.  It looks incredibly expensive.

Hemerocallis ‘Summer Wine’

In case I get ideas above my station, let me just gaze at this fallen phlox flower.


And a simple little Geranium ‘Sirak’.

Geranium ‘Sirak’.

And the airy lightness of Geranium ‘Orion’ with Rosa ‘England’s Rose’.

Geranium ‘Orion’ with Rosa ‘England’s Rose’.

A brilliant rose for quiet contemplation is ‘Jubilee Celebration’.

Rosa ‘Jubilee Celebration’

And there is something scholarly and ecclesiastic about Erodium manescavii.

Erodium manescavii

I think I can get away with one final gratuitous rose photo.  Lose yourselves in the depths of ‘Lady of Megginch’.

Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’

I’m not sure how long this rose garden can keep up the good work.  It is far more than I could have hoped for when I was bashing away with my pickaxe in the winter.  I think I can put away my plan and just let it evolve.

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.


51 Comments Add yours

  1. Rupali says:

    Your garden is beautiful Alison. All your hard work is flowering now.
    I love Echinops ritro’s shot.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Rupali.

  2. Wow Ali. You must be so ecstatic with how the garden is performing this year. Some great photo’s.

    1. Ali says:

      I am feeling a little bit smug!

  3. Nat says:

    Thank you as always Ali for making me smile. Your garden is a haven ideed even via the internet. I can escape there today when in WA it is wintery. Xx

    1. Ali says:

      That is lovely to hear, Nat. You always have a friend here.

      1. Nat says:

        A friend with awesome photos of plants to boot 😊 that is my idea of a Godsend. Xx

      2. Ali says:


  4. John Smith says:

    Looking at these photos has made my day – thank you.

    1. Ali says:

      And that comment made mine. Thank you John.

  5. Heyjude says:

    You do realise that I am going to have to stop following your blog? Every time I open one of your posts I reach for the pad and pen to jot down flowers that I like (‘Lady Emma Hamilton’) and the list is getting veeerrrry long! Now this palette (with the exception of the roses) is my favourite. I used to refer it as ‘bruised’ with blues and purples, magentas, plums, damsons etc. It was my main theme when I only had a pot garden, and having experimented with different colours the past two years, I have decided it is still the one I want.

    Until your next post….

    Oh, but, I won’t be reading that, will I…

    1. Ali says:

      That is a good description! I am very drawn to all the purples too. I would love to know why we are drawn to specific groups of colours and what the subconscious associations might be!

    2. Ali says:

      Do you like dark fruit? I love damsons and blackcurrants and cherries and apricots and these seem to be my favourite colours.

      1. Heyjude says:

        I do. I also like to wear those colours too – OK maybe not the apricot. I’m very much an autumn person.

  6. Eirah Gorre-Dale says:

    Your garden & the descriptions of your flowers are truly inspirational – they just lift me up & take me to another world. Thanks for making me dream and even if I’m not able to realize them in my own gardens, I feel so much better for it. As always, I’m looking forward to your next blog with anticipation!

    1. Ali says:

      Eirah that is so lovely. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is lovely to get a sense of who is reading!

  7. bcparkison says:

    For goodness sake please don’t stop the camera. It is all just so beautiful .Maybe someday I can pull this off too. Maybe.

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, thank you, that is very sweet of you.

  8. susurrus says:

    Lovely. I especially like the Jubilee Celebration picture – one of my favourite roses – the Lady Emma Hamiltons and the penstemons. I’m working on a post of roses from Hampton Court but can’t help thinking they always look so much nicer in the garden, as shown here.

    1. Ali says:

      Did you find the colours strange at Hampton Court? I wish they would show them outside!

      1. susurrus says:

        The lighting in the marquee does make it tricky. It’s much more of a gamble (and an investment) showing roses outside, but this would have been the perfect year to give it a try as the weather turned out.

        Getting them to flower at a different time than they naturally would can change roses’ colours (and habits) quite a lot. Hampton Court roughly coincides with the natural flowering time at their Wolverhampton nursery, making it less of an issue than at Chelsea, but some varieties always look different enough for me to give a double take when I see the label.

      2. Ali says:

        That’s interesting about early flowering changing the colours. It is an odd thing to do to a rose, isn’t it?

      3. susurrus says:

        You wouldn’t ideally do it, but it would be a sad Chelsea Flower show without roses!

      4. Ali says:

        That’s true.

  9. Driftwood says:

    Spectacular, Alison. What a garden, I’m not in the UK this summer, so it was a delight to see such a show of iridescence. It reminded me of the private garden I worked in for a summer show, last year. I was also lucky enough to work at Chelsea flower show one year, and oddly enough, I met the Queen. Your garden is up there with the best of em!

    1. Ali says:

      You are extremely generous with your appraisal of my garden!! Working at Chelsea sounds very exciting, and meeting the Queen! Thank you for your support – it means a lot to get lovely comments like this.

  10. That’s it! I’m sending my hummingbirds across the pond! They would completely loose their minds in your garden! What a feast for the eyes. 🌹 Thank you for always sharing your gardening adventures!

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    A stunning garden, Ali. R. ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is a lovely thing and I esp. love your photo of Echinops ritro, sublime!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Eliza.

  12. Ann says:

    Would love to see some more photos of Lady Emma & Roald Dahl from a greater distace showing their growth habit in the landscape, rather than focus on bloom, upright, narrow, arching, spreading, relative height…

    1. Ali says:

      I will bear that in mind when I take more photos, Ann. If you search the names of those two roses in the search bar on the home page, you will find all the posts where they have popped up. They both have lovely bushy growth habits. In their second year they are both about 1.5m high. They have a nice compact shape, not throwing up crazy long stems (say like ‘Summer Song’ and ‘William Shakespeare 2000’). ‘Lady Em’s foliage has that lovely maroon and dark green colour, whilst ‘Roald Dahl’ is fresh green. They both have lots of healthy foliage. The newly opened blooms are fairly upright, but when the other blooms on a spray (they tend to grow in sprays of 3-5 blooms) they bend nicely t the horizontal or hang down slightly. The flower stems are splayed evenly through the bush.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Ali – thanks so much for the descriptions! Am searching for a shorter apricot rose (probably Austin) with a mor e arching/wide habit for a spot in front of. a border. So will definitely search your archives!

      2. Ali says:

        Let me know what you decide!

  13. FlowerAlley says:

    Is Summer Wine really that hot pink of a color? That’s amazing!

    1. Ali says:

      It does depend on the light. It is ducky pink for most of the time, but with a little bit of sparkle from the iridescent petals; in the evening it can look a deeper grape-purple. It is a really lovely one.

      1. FlowerAlley says:

        There are so many daylily colors, but some really stand out among the masses.

  14. John Smith says:

    Ali do you mind me asking how you learnt your garden design skills ? Has it been by trial and error or have you learnt some of it from published material or courses? Do you have a preferred supplier of plants? Thank you

    1. Ali says:

      Trial and error, John, and reading Sarah Raven, Carol Klein and Christopher Lloyd. I love Claire Austin Hardy Plants. She has a great selection and they always arrive healthy and a good size.

  15. John Smith says:

    Thanks Ali, my gardening has been expensive trials and many errors. I think I am just going to copy you in future – a bit dodgy, but not against the law !

    1. Ali says:

      You are most welcome to, John!

  16. Enjoyed your photos so much and your commentary is delightful, such a pleasure to view and to read! Thanks Ali!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. Your comments are always a delight.

  17. What a wonderful garden Ali – these photos are as good as a plant book, better in fact and your Geranium Sirak is a marketable image. Liz’s SO

    1. Ali says:

      Aw, thank you.

  18. SophieMary says:

    Absolutely stunning garden!! Love the Emma Hamilton rose.

    1. Ali says:

      It is a wonderful rose. Thanks SophieMary. X

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