Fit to Burst

There is excitement building in the rose garden.

Gallica rose ‘Tuscany Superb’ (foreground) Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’ (background)

We have had a little rain; we have had a little sun.

Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’ bud

I can hear everything growing.

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ flower buds

If I’d put a ruler up to these salvias, their flower buds would have elongated an inch in a day. The purple stalk will stretch out and become more visible between the flower nodes, and petals will emerge from each cupped calyx.

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ flower buds

The bed-knob buds of Peony ‘Coral Charm’ are fit to burst. They are starting to ooze a sweet, sticky sap which the ants love. The ants don’t do any harm; in fact they may help the flower to open.

Peony ‘Coral Charm’ bud

I seem to be raising some eccentric lupins. Here are some neuro-typical types.

Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’

And here are my uniquely wonderful ones. This one is split into triplets at the top of the flower stem. Three heads are better than one.

Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’ (a triplet flower)

These two are canoodling in a love-fest.

Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’

And this one, my favourite, is doing a loop-the-loop. A loopin’ lupin. I think I must have knocked it at some point, and so it had to re-set its direction. Plants generally like to grow upwards, but can adjust themselves if the unexpected happens. This is one resilient lupin.

Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’

Each flower bud has its own nest. A calyx of leaf-like fingers protects the developing flower. Knautia likes heights. Each flower is in a crow’s nest. But they do like to tickle one another.

Knautia ‘Melton Pastels’

Roses like to rub noses. That way they can appreciate one another’s delicious scent. ‘Hansa’, being a rugosa rose, has the smell of a sweetshop. It mingles spice scents like cloves and aniseed, along with old rose.

Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’

Sweet Williams have fluffy feather-beds. They like a little luxury.

Dianthus (sweet William) ‘Auricula-eyed Mix’

The best buds are the oriental poppies. They wear thick woollen tights, but silk knickers beneath. This one is about to burst its breeches.

Papaver orientale, bud bursting

Oriental poppies are one of the easiest perennials to grow. Once established, they are indestructible. You can did them up and split a clump to distribute around the garden. Even if you think you dug up the whole clump, it will sprout again from a juicy piece of root left in the ground. I have about twelve plants from one clump I found growing near the compost heap when we moved here. It is still growing well next to the compost bins, and has babies all around the garden.

This is Gladiolus communis. I bought it as the more glamourous form Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus (you can see that marvellous creature in this post here). Mine turned out to be the less glitzy species form. It has a freshness which suits this time of year.

Gladiolus communis (not byzantinus)

Gladiolus communis does a good job at supporting all the other flowers in the garden. It is going to look lovely with the peonies when they burst their buds. Peonies are another low-maintenance plant. You plant them as bare-roots in November and then leave them to be beautiful for the next fifty years. The herbaceous peonies might like a little support around their middles when they are in flower, but the intersectional peonies are quite able to support their own weight. Once the flowers are over, their foliage provides a gorgeous backdrop for other plants for the rest of the summer.

Intersectional Peony ‘Watermelon Wine’

Erodium manescavii is one of the longest-flowering and most prolific-flowering plants in my garden. It was still flowering in December, and started up again in April. It will keep producing its stained-glass flowers all summer long. You can see more of this plant in this post from last year.

Erodium manescavii

I am fit to burst with the excitement contained within all of this new growth.

Geranium, salvia and Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ foliage

As a little sneak preview, I can show you the first rose in the garden. It is always this climbing rose, now identified as ‘Abraham Darby’.

Climbing rose ‘Abraham Darby’

The blooms are humungous, with ruffles of pinky-peach petals. These fade as they age. If it has been a cold winter (as it was last year) then the first flower is a really rich, deep pink. The perfume of this rose is incredible. It is fabulously fruity. You really have to sink your face in and spend a moment with it.

Climbing rose ‘Abraham Darby’

I hope you will return to see the poppies and peonies in full flower. They are going to be marvellous.

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39 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m sure you can hardly wait for it all to come into it’s full glory. There is nothing quite as exciting as gardening. Happy weekend Ali!

  2. Cathy says:

    It is SUCH an exciting time and I love it too – spotting the roses’ first blooms, buds swelling, clumps burgeoning…what’s not to love? I have a bloom on Hansa too and the first on Rural England. Love your description of poppy buds!! Could do with splitting mine really… thanks for another lovely post, Ali

    1. It’s my pleasure when I am in such good company, Cathy!

      1. Cathy says:

        And mine too 🙂

  3. Heyjude says:

    Your garden is a true delight and I love the way you describe the flowers! I always end up smiling throughout your posts. I also have the same Gladiolus communis bought from SR who swears it is the genuine one. Not anything like the ones growing in the George V garden in Hayle which are strong and dark and shiny!

    1. I had exactly the same thing, Jude. I emailed SR with photos but they were having none of it. I spoke to the nursery at Great Dixter (where I was able to buy the real thing, in flower to make sure). They said that it is very often mis-labelled and mis-sold now.

      1. Heyjude says:

        The best way to buy is in flower, I shall have to see if any of my local nurseries have it.

  4. Ann Mackay says:

    Oh my, your garden seems to be growing so fast! (Mine isn’t as fast off the mark as yours, but I’ve just been away overnight and I can see that there are changes…) I love the idea of eccentric plants and your lupins certainly are! 🙂 And Abraham Darby is magnificent!

    1. The poppies are still not out – we need more sunshine! Abe is gorgeous, isn’t he?

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        He sure is! 🙂 My poppy buds are still tightly closed, so I think they’ll be a while yet before they open. Your garden is ahead of mine! (And better stocked too – giving me ideas, hehe!)

      2. I’m glad to be of assistance with your plant addiction!

      3. Ann Mackay says:

        Hehe – any excuse will do me!

  5. These are utterly beautiful pictures … what a lovely way to light up my Saturday. Thank you. Katie

    1. It’s a pleasure, Katie! I hope your move preparations are going well!

  6. bcparkison says:

    Lovely,lovely lovely. Just beauriful!

  7. That rose is magnificent, as are your crazy lupins!!! Wonderful photos!

  8. Canoodling looping lupines and poppies wearing thick woollen tights with silk knickers? I love the way you describe your awakening garden, Ali. Together with the peonies, they’re quite lovely.

    1. The peonies are just starting to open now…

  9. I absolutely adore roses and used to have quite a collection. Now that we are living in an apartment, I often admire the public rose gardens and other private gardens. Love your photography.

    1. Thank you Suzanne; I am really happy you enjoyed it.

  10. Emma Cownie says:

    I LOVE lupins. These are great. The one time I tried to grow some “something” ate them very quickly. You have succeeded beautifully!

    1. Slugs and snails do like them, but we don’t seem to get any here!

  11. I love lupins too but they have always succumbed to snails in my garden so I gave up

    1. Yes, I have heard that from other people. Our garden tends to be too dry for slugs and snails.

  12. Gorgeous photos, Ali, but your words are the best – “woollen tights, but silk knickers” !!! My peony Coral Charm is about to burst here too – what an exciting time for a gardener.

    1. Isn’t it? Every day there are new surprises.

  13. Chloris says:

    The darling buds of May are an absolute delight. I love all your photos and your contagious enthusiasm. And at last your beloved roses are starting.

    1. I think this is my favourite time.

  14. Cathy says:

    All that fresh green and sunlight is what makes May such a lovely month. Hope you have time to enjoy your beautiful garden Ali!

  15. Beautiful post Ali 🙂

  16. I really liked learning about how the ants eating the sap on the buds helps them to open. That is so cool! Why is that? I also loved the picture and comments about the flowers canoodling. Adorable.

    1. Yes, it’s one of the many symbiotic relationships in the garden! I’m so pleased you appreciated that!

  17. Until you explained the purpose of ants eating peony bud sap, I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to wash them off. Now I know.

    1. It’s good to know they are useful, isn’t it? They are also the reason we have lots of woodpeckers: ants make a tasty snack!

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