Layers of Loveliness

There is a day at the beginning of summer when you realise it is really here.

The rose garden on 1st June 2019

Early in the morning, the sun peeks around the corner and lights up a rose. That rose gives a sigh, opens it petals, and lets out its scent. It is glorious.

English rose ‘Boscobel’

These photos were all taken on the 1st June. A pretty much perfect day, from start to finish.

Clockwise from top left: Knautia macedonica ‘Melton Pastels’, Rose ‘Hansa’, Rose ‘Roald Dahl’, Geranium ‘Brookside’, Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’

A new delight in the rose garden is Knautia macedonica (Macedonian scabious) ‘Melton Pastels’. Here they are, stretching up over the roses, salvia and geraniums.

Front to back: Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, Rose ‘Princess Anne’ and Knautia macedonica ‘Melton Pastels’

They are already towering at six feet high. I chose them for this spot under the pear tree because I know that they are tolerant creatures, and will mind neither the dryness, nor the shade cast by the pear. All scabious (or pincushion flowers) are beautiful when backlit. These have an extra advantage of finding the sun first, because they are so tall.

From left to right: Rose ‘Hansa’, Knautia ‘Melton Pastels’, Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’

I planted the main part of my rose garden two and a half years ago. A year later, I extended it outwards. This allowed me to add six new varieties of roses (tra-la!) five new peonies (tra-la-la!) and several new herbaceous perennials (tra-la-la-la-la!) I am pleased with how quickly this little row of planting has matured. I can no longer see the join between old planting and new.

The front of the rose garden, showing the metre of new planting. Left to right in the front row: Rose ‘Young Lycidas’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, Peony ‘Dr Alexander Fleming’ (in bud), Dianthus ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’, Rose ‘Boscobel’, Peony ‘Watermelon Wine’.

I keep visiting this corner to appreciate the layers of planting. I like the outlines, as one texture is distinct from the next. There is layer upon layer of loveliness.

Left to right: Rose ‘Young Lycidas’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, Peonies ‘Callie’s Memory’ and ‘Dr Alexander Fleming’ (in bud) and Dianthus ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’

I generally plant roses and herbaceous perennials in groups of three. This gives each variety a presence in the border: their flowers are in sufficient number to make an impact. I like the way they form clear hummocks, like hills, through the border. Their outlines remind me of a child’s drawing of overlapping hills.

The English rose ‘Young Lycidas’ is looking lovely with Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’. Every rose looks good with salvia. ‘Young Lycidas’ is pumping out its warm scent. There is a hint of sandalwood.

Rose ‘Young Lycidas’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’

I grew this dianthus (sweet William) from seed. It is called ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’ and you get a lovely selection of pinks, whites and purples. I think this one is my favourite.

Dianthus barbatus (sweet Williams) ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’

It looks wonderful with the peachy-pink English rose ‘Boscobel’.

Dianthus barbatus ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’ with Rose ‘Boscobel’ behind.

It has a subtle, spicy scent, which mingles with the fragrance from the roses.

Rose ‘Boscobel’ with Dianthus barbaratus ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’

I am really enjoying the fruit salad colours at the front of this border.

Left to right: Rose ‘Boscobel’, Dianthus barbaratus ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’, Peony ‘Watermelon Wine’

My eye is drawn to the number of flower buds on the English rose ‘Boscobel’.

English Rose ‘Boscobel’, showing buds. The English Rose ‘Roald Dahl’ is behind.

‘Boscobel’ may rival another English rose, ‘Royal Jubilee’ (seen in this post) for being the most floriferous rose in my garden. By the afternoon, the sun has opened some of the buds. It is bathing in its own glory.

English rose ‘Boscobel’. ‘Hansa’ and ‘Roald Dahl’ are behind, and Peony ‘Watermelon Wine’ is behind and to the right.

Last week, I featured the intersectional peony ‘Watermelon Wine’ in a post called ‘Mouth-watering‘. Here it is a week later, swishing its silky skirts.

Intersectional Peony ‘Watermelon Wine’

It has been joined by another intersectional peony, ‘Callie’s Memory’. This has a more subtle colour, but is no less lovely. I love the deep, cherry-red staining at the centre of both of these peonies. It is like they hold a special secret, and may or may not let you in on it.

Intersectional Peony ‘Callie’s Memory’

Last week I promised to show you Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus. Now you can see why I would scour the county for the real deal.

Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus

Look at the shimmer!

Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus

The day got better and better. I pottered around. Mainly sniffing roses. Oh, the scent!

Even when I went upstairs I was drawn to the view of the rose garden.

The rose garden seen from our bedroom window

It would call out to me, and I would have to return, again and again and again.

I like to just bask in June. There is nothing to do but sniff roses, utter sweet nothings, roll around in rose petals, fondle them, bury your nose in their soft folds, sigh a bit. This is what my garden is for.

If you are a fellow rose- or peony-obsessive, please feel free to join me! Click on the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of this page, and receive an email notification when my weekly post is published. I like to have company!

35 Comments Add yours

  1. I love your peony “watermelon wine” and the gladiolus.

    I wonder if you can help me. I am growing apple trees indoors. I planted them this spring so it hasn’t over wintered.

    It has a fine white powder on its leaves. Do I need to treat them as if they have over wintered and got mildew (wash the leaves and spray with water), or do I leave them alone?

    Also, I have a fruit bearing fig tree and one branch is growing amazingly well. I love the growth on that branch, but the other two branches are growing so slowly. Should I pinch out the top of the fast growing branch or should I leave it alone?

    1. Hi Richard, I am by no means a fruit tree expert, and I would recommend your researching growing apple trees indoors, as I have never come across this. I do know that apple trees like to have air circulating around them, so I would recommend leaving it outside as much as possible – also for light levels, because it will need sunlight for the fruit to ripen. Re: the fig, pruning in spring generally stimulates more growth, whilst pruning in late summer controls growth. I would leave it alone for now, but maybe prune the weaker growth harder next year, if you don’t mind sacrificing fruit on those branches. Figs fruit on last year’s wood, so pruning hard will mean you don’t get any fruit the following year.
      Sorry it is a complicated answer – fruit trees are a whole world of expertise! But so rewarding after a couple of years.

      1. Thankyou so much Ali. I shall leave the fig tree alone this year then. As for the apple tree, I can’t put it outside as I don’t have an outdoor area. I do have a USB fan though, so I’ll place that near the apple trees.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the inspiration. My roses are currently under planted with bindweed. You have shown me I could do bettter.

    1. Gah! Bindweed is my nemesis! I break out into a cold sweat if I ever find any, so you have my absolute sympathy if you are plagued by it!

  3. Cathy says:

    Oh what well-planned layers of loveliness, Ali, and I would be doing exactly the same sniffing, rolling, uttering, fondlng, burying and sighing if it was my border too – and there are certainly similar goings-on here!! Can’t believe how tall that knautia is, making me think the one I bought last year is definitely not in the best position 😐 Have bought seeds now, so hopefully will have more next year and some for sale too

    1. I think it can vary a lot in height depending on conditions. My normal red knautia is half the height, but I do save that for difficult places.

      1. Cathy says:

        Oh, difficult in what way? Mine is Red Knight

  4. Emma Cownie says:

    “Layers of loveliness” is a great way to describe your garden. Sweet Williams are another favorite of mine!

    1. They are utterly gorgeous, aren’t they? I think I will make room for them every year.

  5. Utterly, utterly gorgeous, Ali – no need to say more! 🙂

  6. Heyjude says:

    Layers of loveliness indeed – your borders are simply gorgeous. And yes, that is the real thing! 🙂

    1. Hurrah! Let’s hope it multiplies now!

  7. As always, your garden is blooming to perfection! I think I would just pitch a tent and live out there all summer long if I had a border that luscious.

    1. And you would be most welcome, Cindy!

  8. crabandfish says:

    Your garden is looking stunning in the sunshine – love the roses and peonies. Well done!

    1. Thank you; the roses and peonies are my pride and joy!

  9. bcparkison says:

    Such beauty! I love seeing just a touch of fence and greenhouse in the photos. What a lovely garden you have grown.

    1. That’s nice to know; I have been enjoying taking more long shots.

  10. Sally says:

    Hi your garden is very beautiful roses are my favourite but because I have a very sunny dry garden I get a lot of black spot we do water and feed them,but have you any advice how I can improve my soil.thank you .

    1. Hi Sally, I mulch my roses thickly (5-10cm) with well-rotted manure every year, and I think this makes a huge difference. It provides nutrients, locks in the moisture, and suppresses weeds. I remove all foliage in late autumn or winter, as the black spot spores are harboured in old leaves. I don’t spray my roses because this kills all insect life and then reduces food for the birds. There are some varieties that get a touch of blackspot (I think the bourbons are the most susceptible) but I don’t worry too much about it. I plant all my roses with hardy perennials, so that no roses are growing directly next to one another. I think this limits the spread of any disease. I have also heard that salvia reduces blackspot – not totally convinced by the science of this, but I do grow a lot of salvia!

  11. Jo Shafer says:

    Oh, Ali! What layers of loveliness, indeed! Gertrude Jekyll would be quite proud of you. And what an inspiration to the rest of us gardeners and lovers of English-style gardens. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your lovely words, Jo!

  12. Rupali says:

    Just beautiful!

  13. Eliza Waters says:

    Your garden is a lush delight, Ali, simply gorgeous!

  14. Ali, guess what? I planted a flower and vegetable garden this year after a long gardening hiatus, and it is in large part thanks to your blog that I did this. I am going to write a post about it later this summer. I loved how you discussed the varieties of different peonies and roses. I have started paying more careful attention to varieties of plants more. I also really like that you talked about “layering”. I don’t think I would have thought about the concept of layering plants as much before I read your blog, but I have realized that flower gardens are a lot like painting. You layer and blend colors and textures. I really like thinking about that.

    1. That’s so exciting Shelly! I can’t wait to read your post. I do love how gardening allows me to indulge my artistic side, and that there is an analogy with painting.

      1. I absolutely believe that! I love the artistic quality of your garden. You paint with nature.

  15. Ali, you are so right about knowing that first day of real summer and you described it so well. I had that same moment last week 🙂 Everything looks so lush and lovely in your garden, no wonder you kept returning to it again and again. Rose ‘Boscobel’ sounds like a great rose – I just added several English roses to my garden but there’s always room for one more . . .

    1. ‘Boscobel’ is highly recommended!

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