Thugs’ Corner

I have been meaning to post for a while about the area of our garden known as ‘Thug’s Corner’.  This is the planting area along the fence which separates my flower garden from Stevie’s allotment.

Really, its peak in prettiness is early June, when it looks like this:


The Geranium magnificum then goes over, and the Centranthus ruber gets cut back when it starts to lean in.

At the moment, it looks like this (note the crispy grass in front):


I started off by planting a Hybrid Perpetual rose, ‘Reine de Violettes’ here.  You can see this rose looking at its peak in After four days away.  Overall, this is a very frustrating rose, and I would not recommend you plant it.  It sometimes looks lovely in early June, as it did this year.  Other years, the blooms look promising in bud and then just ball up and don’t open properly.  Then it flowers very sporadically and unsatisfactorily for the rest of the summer.  Faring far better is the wonderful English rose, ‘Royal Jubilee’ (star of Floriferous) which is also in this corner.

At the moment, ‘Reine de Violettes’ blooms look like this:

Hybrid Perpetual Rose ‘Reine de Violettes’

Actually that rose looks like I feel.  I am writing this in the 34°c heat.  Before you Australians laugh, remember that we Brits are not acclimatised to this heat.  By the time I had lived in Sydney for three years I could cope up to 35°c quite nicely.  It was only around 38°c that I would get that ‘walking through porridge’ feeling when stepping out of the car.  At the other end of the scale, I started to need a winter coat when it was 15°c during the day.  That is light jacket weather to me now.

Buddleia davidii ‘Black Knight’ is also looking a bit crispy.  I planted this to soften the view of the greenhouse beyond.  It provides nice tall, arching stems of flower.  This also has the bonus of smelling dark and seductively sweet, a combination of Turkish coffee and Turkish Delight, if I am being fanciful.

Buddleia davidii ‘Black Knight’

I love the deep purple of the Buddleia against the pink of Rosa ‘Royal Jubilee’.  And the orange highlights of the Buddleia.

Buddleija davidii ‘Black Knight’ with Rosa ‘Royal Jubilee’ behind.

At the other end of the bed is a Damson, ‘Farleigh’ which is fruiting for the first time this year.


For fatness, I added Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’.  The flowers start off this lovely chartreuse-green.

Hydrangea 'Annabelle'
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

And then swell to great footballs of flower, and become creamy white.


My macro lens reveals their veining and that they like the number 4.


They are the softest of flowers, and invite you to bounce your fingers lightly on their surface.


The other day I found this single flower of Clematis ‘Nellie Moser’.  This Clematis has unsurprisingly been struggling to compete with its more robust neighbours.  At least once I have yanked it’s new shoots out of the ground, fearing a sudden outbreak of bindweed.

Clematis ‘Nellie Moser’

Knautia macedonica was the next thug I introduced.  I thought its crimson would look rather nice with the rich pink rose, deepest purple Buddleia and the creamy green Hydrangea.

Knautia macedonica

The scabious-like flowers are produced from April through to December, and the bees and butterflies love them.

P7150081 (2)
Knautia macedonica with a bee

They have rather lovely seedheads too.

Knautia macedonica seedhead

I seem to like photographing them mid-transformation.

Knautia macedonica
Knautia macedonica

But the real thug, out-competing them all is the Autumn-fruiting raspberry, whose canes have invaded from the other side of the fence, and are threatening to engulf the lot.


I forgive them, because the fruit is delicious.


And the vibrant green sets off the rose, when it deigns to flower.


There is one more thug in this post.  This morning I went to investigate the impassioned barking by the fruit cage.  A squirrel had got into it, and was throwing itself at the netting.

Ziggy and Ruby. Pondering the futility of barking at a squirrel trapped in a cage.
Ziggy waiting patiently outside the fruit cage for the squirrel to come out and be chased.

The squirrel wasted no time in escaping as soon as I opened the door.  Ziggy and Ruby ran after it, but in the wrong direction.  They are not natural hunters.  I returned to the kitchen to my cup of tea.

A little later I wandered down to the allotment, and found more thrashing about in the fruit cage.  Not the squirrel this time, but Ziggy!   The door was shut.  How did he get in there?  Ziggy looked as perplexed as I was.

It felt a bit like a David Blaine show.

A more thorough investigation by Stevie that evening revealed some naughtiness.  A little patch of netting had been ripped, to make a hole just big enough for either a squirrel or a small dog.

I’m blaming the squirrel.

Ziggy. With a bone.

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.

29 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah - Mud, Cakes and Wine says:

    That is a beautiful buddleia love the deep purple and yes let’s def blame the squirrels x

    1. Ali says:

      It is a lovely buddleia. Especially when it catches the sun. Squirrels are responsible for 99% of the bad things that happen in this garden.

  2. pommepal says:

    Love them all struggling together for dominance you are inspiring me to try for more colour in my garden, so yesterday I bought a whole lot of annual seedlings… now to plant them…

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, that’s lovely to know!

  3. janesmudgeegarden says:

    34 degrees in Sydney can be very unpleasant if it’s humid, so I wouldn’t dream of laughing. Thank goodness for thugs ( well, some of them) when the weather is tricky and other plants are giving up.

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, that is very true. I have a few choice thugs for all my difficult spots in the garden.

  4. Silly Ziggy! ☺ We occasionally have squirrels visit our garden, but it’s usually sparrows we have to rescue from the fruit cage or worse the wood burning stove (luckily, never when it’s been lit)!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, we’re had blackbirds in the fruit cage – thankfully they got straight out when I opened the door, and one sparrow in the wood burner last week! Flew around the house dispersing soot, then departed! The most alarming visitor was a bat into our bedroom in the middle of the night! I heard a really weird sound behind the curtains, went to investigate in my half-awake state and a ‘thing’ brushed past my ear and into the bedroom. Totally lost the plot and dived under the covers whilst Stevie guided the bat out. He tells me it settled upside down on my bedside lamp for a while!

  5. Looking at Ziggy, it couldn’t possibly have been him. More excellent photography

    1. Ali says:

      That is how he gets away with many a misdemeanour!

  6. Hard to believe it’s still that hot there. We’re used to summers like that, but I know you and your flowers are not. Have you had any rain lately? When I lived in Maryland, it was always that hot and humid and by September, I could hardly wait for fall and winter to come. Hopefully you’ll get a reprieve soon.

    1. Ali says:

      I know! We had a good couple of downpours at the weekend, a couple of days of cooler weather, and now it’s back up to the high twenties. I’m not complaining though. I love a summer where the hot weather seems guaranteed. This is the best I remember.

  7. The heat has been a little much this year, I know the plants are feeling it, too. Such a gorgeous garden. I love the colorful plants and the gorgeous view. So beautiful! Soggy is so cute!

    1. Ali says:

      He is a very sweet dog. It is impossible to be cross with him; he gives the appearance of just not knowing what he’s done wrong. He falls over if I talk sternly and my heart melts.

  8. Darn spell check, Ziggy is so cute.

  9. john sadler says:

    Interesting comment about destroying a clematis while trying to remove bindweed. I have killed two good clematis this year by doing the exact same thing – yanking the root system clean out; very frustrating and ‘upsetting’. I decided not to ever plant another clematis without devising a mechanism at the base to prevent me grasping the clematis stem. Nb. the mechanism might consist of a big stone !

    1. Ali says:

      That’s a very good idea!

  10. bcparkison says:

    Well the Mississippi heat has put a stop to my garden cleaning…for now at least. I love the dark purple butterfly bush and the hydrangia veins are beautiful. That photo is great. Thanks.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you! Yes, I would say that is the main downside to the heat; I can’t do very much useful after 9am and until about 6pm! But going out and doing a little gentle deadheading is lovely.

  11. Heyjude says:

    I’m trying not to think of the damage if Ziggy had remembered known where the hole was whilst the squirrel was inside!

    1. Ali says:

      Fortunately he has a very bad memory and no forward-planning skills!

  12. Ziggy is so adorable! I am vacationing with relatives, and my young niece is fascinated with nature. This post reminded me how your blog has helped me to become more aware of different types of plants and flowers and to appreciate more how amazing nature is. Thanks, Friend!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you; that is lovely. Children do just have a natural fascination with nature; I don’t know how we lose it. Maybe when other worries take over.

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