As the world turns, the light is changing.  I am an early riser, and if I get up at 5am, I wake up to a gentle dappled light which dances against the curtains and invites me outside.

But by 6am, the bread machine beeps, and Ruby knows it is time for breakfast.  She nuzzles me at the kitchen table.  If the first nuzzle doesn’t work, she switches position and keeps nuzzling from all angles until I respond.  I have a surprisingly forceful dog nose popping up under my elbow, by my knees, between my thighs.

I give in of course.  There is quite a lot of leaping about from both dogs, though they do try to contain themselves because they know they are not allowed to jump up.  They whimper with the effort.

Whilst they dive into their breakfast, I do a round of the garden.

Last week I posted about Beautiful Bokeh.  This morning was so beautifully sparkly that I thought I would try to capture it in the photos I took.  So there will be quite a lot of bobbly background in these shots.

Rosa ‘England’s Rose’

The David Austin rose  ‘England’s Rose’ seems to have hit its stride.  The blooms are small; about the size of a halved peach, but are held in a spray of three to five.  They are quickly replaced as each one is dead-headed.

I like the sense of space over this rose, and the fresh new day just waiting to happen.

Rosa ‘England’s Rose’

Next to ‘England’s Rose’ is the incredible Erodium manescavii.  The flowers resemble a hardy geranium, but are held in sculptural sprays of nine or ten flowers.  This plant does not stop flowering.  All it needs is an occasional deadheading of the slightly ickily stickily stems every couple of weeks.  Lowest maintenance perennial ever.

I LOVE the bokeh (smudgy background) in this photo.  To me it looks like there is an arching green roof over the flowers.  It looks like it has been rendered in oil pastels.

Erodium manescavii

Geranium ‘Crystal Lake’ is never covered in flower, but I like it for its modesty.  It always has a few well-spaced flowers, which allows you to really appreciate each one.

Geranium ‘Crystal Lake’

Like Erodium manescavii, each flower is finely lined with darkest ink.  I like the bright bokeh here.  Sorry about my over-use of the term bokeh.  When I learn a new artistic word, I feel the need to practise using it everywhere.  I was the same with ombre.

Geranium ‘Crystal Lake’

The bright blue globes in the right of the picture below are Echinops ritro.  This is a new favourite, grown for the first time this year.  The shimmery lilac sea is Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’, at its most blue because the sun hasn’t been on it for long.  In a couple of hours it will be brightest magenta (you can see the change in Phloxy Lady).

The rose is ‘Lady of Megginch’.  At the start of June, this produced some whopperish blooms (see Getting to know you…).  The flowers are still big by rose standards, but are now flatter.  Even though this rose was only planted last November, it is producing masses of flower in its first summer.  I love it.  ‘Lady Meg’ is also looking more blueish in the morning light; I’m not sure if this is due to the light conditions in our garden, with the light filtering through trees, or if blue pigments are seen more strongly in cooler or more moist conditions?

Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’

This next picture captures exactly the feel of the rose garden at 6am.  It is a green and lush place to be.  Who says that the August garden has to be dry and tired?  Those are apples on the gravel.  The tree likes to drop them on me when I am bending over to inspect the plants.


Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is challenging ‘Munstead Wood’ as my favourite rose.  You can see why.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

Ooh.  A lovely sparkle of white and purple bokeh here!  And I do love how a hand of maroon foliage is just cradling the rose.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ with Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’ behind.

Stevie’s vine gives us an opportunity to appreciate a blurry ‘Lady Em’ with phlox behind and Geranium ‘Azure Rush’ to the right.  This is another fantastic geranium.

Geranium ‘Azure Rush’

Geranium ‘Azure Rush’ is later to flower than the similar ‘Orion’, and so is still going great guns in August.  I had to cut ‘Orion’ back before it toppled over and took the whole garden with it.  ‘Azure Rush’ is more translucent than ‘Orion’; it has a clarity and a sparkle that is unmatched.   I think I will split it in the autumn to make another patch of it somewhere.


Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ of course is also still flowering.  She too looks more blue-purple at this time in the morning.  Maybe I do too?

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’

This little group of Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ was planted late, and so is still hanging on to its first flush of flowers.

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’

Here is the sea-spume of Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’.  The magenta throats of each little flower are glowing.  I love the silver fuzz around the edges.  That’s the foliage of a cherry and the Gallica rose ‘Tuscany Superb’ sparkling away in the background.

Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’

This is another flower I am addicted to photographing, Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’.  I have bubbles of bokeh!  Just look at the Indian ink colours contained within this Salvia.

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

More green and sparkly bokeh.  More Indian ink.  And a dance partner.

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

Here it is having a snuggle with Rosa ‘Boscobel’.

Rosa ‘Boscobel’ and Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

‘Boscobel’ is proving itself to be a top rose.  Divine fragrance, delectable blooms with folded petals at the centre, and a steady supply of flower.  I just love the hint of warm peach in the cavity of ‘Boscobel’.

Rosa ‘Boscobel’ and Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’

I know I’ve said it before, but peony foliage is the best.  Long before and after the flowers there is this wonderful sculptural presence.  They are such good garden plants.  I particularly love the deeply cut feathers of an intersectional peony (see more about these in Intersectional Peonies: A New Direction).

Intersectional Peony foliage

Geranium psilostemon is just starting to tire.  I have two clumps of this.  One was given the chop (cut to the ground) a couple of weeks ago and is now re-sprouting.  The one pictured here was left as an experiment to compare the two.  I can’t decide; I like getting a fresh flush of foliage and flower from the one that was given the chop, but I kind of like the airiness of the one that is climbing ever higher and still producing flower.  I don’t even mind the splotches of blue on the heat-exhausted flowers.  They’re kind of psychedelic.

Geranium psilostemon

I love the icy blue of Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’.  This has out-performed any other penstemon in the garden.  It is looking lovely here against the Moroccan blue pot.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’

It looks rather like a surveillance robot here, with two eyes looking on.  This one must have been bashed by last week’s rain.  The apricot smudge behind is Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’

‘Roald Dahl’ has been a trouper.  Here he is with ‘England’s Rose’ behind.  We have come a full circle.  This is another combination that has been delighting me.  Earlier in the season, Geranium ‘Orion’ would have been blocking the view to ‘England’s Rose’.  This is another advantage of cutting back: you get a completely different planting combination mid-way through the summer.

Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’ with Rosa ‘England’s Rose’ behind.

This is one of the two fig trees that we thought we had lost until it started sprouting leaves in June (you can see it almost bare here in The Corner of Complete Neglect).  There will be no fruit this year, but its blobby shadows are giving me equal pleasure.


Finally, this is the view looking from the fig tree through the rose garden and beyond to the Bright Border.  You can see that it is warming up already!

A view through the rose garden out onto the bright border beyond.

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My aim in this blog is to share the little pops of wonder I get from gardening and from nature. You don’t have to be into gardening to appreciate these. The world is an amazing place and there are so many sensory pleasures that go unnoticed.

24 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    Beautiful especially the first photo – great bokeh shots!

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks Emma!

  2. Beautiful photos Ali. I like the robot plant with eyes looking right at you.

  3. john smith says:

    Another interesting post – I will definitely be planting Boscobel (after seeing yours). I planted James Austin last autumn, and I am very pleased with it all-round; I think you would like the colour – a very deep pink, almost plum. I am trying to swap a bit of information, but you have a lot more knowledge to share, as it happens!

    1. Ali says:

      ‘James Austin’ looks beautiful! Please do share info, John; I love hearing about roses I don’t grow. Or those I do grow but might be a bit different in other gardens. Rose info is always welcome.

      1. john smith says:

        Rose information is very valuable – it takes three years to accept you have planted the wrong one and start again; not good for the soul ! I think choosing a climbing rose must be the hardest of all.

      2. Ali says:

        Yes! That’s true! Fortunately there are fewer climbing roses to choose from, but you are right. It would probably be wise to see it growing in the flesh before making a decision about a climbing rose. Not that I did that!

  4. bcparkison says:

    It must be such a delight to see the “blobby” goodness every morning. I know I enjoy it even from a great distance and through your lens.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. Your comments are equally lovely.

  5. Emma Hamilton is one of my favourites, too

  6. Heyjude says:

    I have just planted a Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ and hoping for great things next year. Such a lovely colour and I do like your pink and purple couplings! The blueness may come from the early hour you are in your garden, the ‘blue hour’

    1. Ali says:

      Oh wow! Thanks Jude!

  7. Cathy says:

    Lovely description of your early morning ramble, Ali – I always enjoy my first and last rambles the best. Today’s earlyish one was just so GREEN as we had rain overnight and continues dampness today (hurrah!). Thanks for introducing me to erodium, something I will be adding to my garden soonish. And of course I need to look into my camera settings to see if I can get this bokeh effect too!

    1. Ali says:

      I love the second spring we get when a dry period ends. Erodium is lovely! I’m just working on a post about it…

      1. Cathy says:

        Look forward to it!

  8. Christina says:

    You’ve captured the light beautifully. It is still dark here at 5.30 now so I’m not getting up quite so early. It is also already cooler during the day than it has been so I can carry on working longer. The light hasn’t done that magic change here yet.

    1. Ali says:

      It is amazing, the way no two mornings are the same, isn’t it? That is one lovely thing about living further away from the equator!

  9. I did not know the word “bokeh” until now. Thanks for this. Yesterday I was walking in the arboretum and took a picture of this gorgeous, pink flower, the name of which I do not know. But I know your blog has inspired me to notice different flowers around me more. Thanks for this, Ali!

    1. Ali says:

      That is lovely to know, Shelly. 🤸🏽‍♀️

  10. Ali, a beautiful post as always! You are able to weave such a story into your garden; I just love coming along for the tour! We have Johnson’s Blue Geranium and Cransbill Geranium in our gardens here. I love Johnson’s Blue but it did not do so well this year. My Cransbill spread like crazy but had few flowers. I love all your rose varieties – I get hooked on names so of course Roald Dahl would be a favorite since I love children’s literature! Thanks for letting us glimpse your garden world at 6 am!

    1. Ali says:

      Exactly why I bought that rose! ‘Johnson’s Blue’ has been a total let down for me this year. I haven’t even noticed it’s flowers.

      1. Mine hasn’t performed well either.

      2. Ali says:

        ‘Brookside’ is my favourite pale blue/lilac now. Masses of flowers and really easy to divide to make more.

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