One of the best things to do on a cold, wet December day is to think back to those sunny days in the summer and reflect on what worked well in the garden. Sometimes it is a vista or combination of plants that have matured gracefully and now perform well year after year. At other times it is just a moment when some of the short lived annuals all come together and you stand and look and admire. Within a couple of weeks the garden will have moved on.
In one quadrant of the new flower garden this year we allowed a number of self sown annuals to develop whilst some of the new perennials were being planted and growing on. The annuals included Love-in-the-mist (both the blues of Nigella damascena and the white Nigella hispanica ‘African bride’), Corncockle (Agrostemma githago) and some beautiful mixed colour pink poppies with their thin tissue paper petals (Papaver rhoeas ‘Falling in Love’). This informal combination grew freely amongst the tall biennial Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus ‘Auricular Eyed’).
The effect was charming and created a relaxed ‘meadow-style’ bed. Along with the mass of different colours and the texture of the fresh green foliage the bed also had movement. The different components swayed and reacted to the breeze adding an additional dimension.
All of these annuals cut well and, if appropriately conditioned, allow you to enjoy these flowers for many days in a vase indoors.
The pictures here were all taken in the first week of June. It was a sweet spot when all the flowers were emerging together and in their prime. As well as the overall effect I also like to look at the detail of the individual flowers. The tiny, delicate rows of fine dots in the Corncockle and the blue wash in the centre of the Nigella hispanica are particularly lovely.
At its peak this meadow style planting was certainly a triumph. However, I think it is worth highlighting that it is relatively short lived. This is certainly a downside in a garden where you want to try and create year-round interest. Once they have set seed the show is over and you do need to have something planted that will follow on. If you want a show next year you do of course have to leave the seed heads to mature and set seed. The Nigella seed heads look particularly striking and are well worth leaving to add interest to the late summer border.
My conclusion therefore is that whilst self sown annuals do indeed provide a spectacular show, in a garden setting you do need to set them amongst other follow-on perennials or small shrubs that can continue the performance into July, August and the autumn.
I have really enjoyed getting to grips with the garden this year. Having given up our day jobs we now have much more time to work on the projects we have been thinking about for some time.
There is still a great deal to do (a garden is always evolving and changing) but I thought it would be nice to capture the end of June by offering a virtual garden tour. I have spent many happy hours simply wandering around smelling the roses and admiring the colour combinations that appear.
The tour takes you around the garden at the back of the house, down the old rose garden to the vegetable garden and then into the orchard. We then walk through the small woodland copse into the top of the new flower garden (now in its second year). Look out here for the garden visitor that was caught on camera.
After a look around the new flower garden we move back towards the house to admire the magnificant climbing roses, the circular garden near the house and then finally the garden and views to the front.
I warn you now this is not intended to be a glossy video that hides all the ‘sub-optimal’ bits of the garden! My intention is to capture the essence at a moment in time and love the way that the video picks out all the bird song. Hope you enjoy the tour.
(You can either watch the video through the embedded video below on this page or click here to view it on YouTube itself.)
This climbing English Rose was planted in the old rose garden about 15 years ago. What we call the old rose garden was originally built and developed to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary. As we approach our ruby wedding anniversary this year it is so lovely to see that most of the roses we planted back then have grown away strongly and are still producing beautiful displays year after year.
The Pilgrim produces quite large soft yellow rosettes of the form that typifies a David Austin English Rose. It is repeat flowering with a medium strength fragrance and blooms from June into early autumn.
David Austin describes this as a ‘repeat flowering english rambling rose’. It is supposed to grow to some 15 feet and we have planted it to scramble over a new seating area. We planted this rose about 2-3 years ago now and in reality it has been very slow to get going. This year we are seeing some strong fresh shoots so we hope that it will now grow away and cover the trellis with clusters of small delicate lighty-fragrant yellow blooms.
The flowers are quite small (see below) but if it flowers as abundantly as the catalogues suggest it should be an absolute picture on the edge of the orchard. Fingers-crossed that the new strong shoots allow the plant to really get going.
We planted a number of bare root Prince Jardinier roses in the new flower garden last year. For this garden we have deliberately chosen roses with a powerful scent that we can enjoy as we move around this area in the summer months. Prince Jardinier is certainly performing as expected and has a lovely perfume.
We have grouped these roses with three other varieties (A whiter shade of pale, White perfumella and Sweet parfum de Provence) to give a mix of deep pink through to white. Prince Jardinier has delicate pink outer petals with a transition to a more intense pink centre.
Today’s rose is the English shrub rose, Charlotte. This plant is probably in excess of 20 years old now and grows at the back of the house in full sun. The flower bed is quite dry during the main summer months and the plants have to compete for moisture with the neighbour’s leylandii hedge.
Flowering at the moment (early June) it has soft yellow blooms and repeat flowers for most of the summer. It has a delicate but not powerful fragrance. Although it does not seem to flower as prolifically as some other roses in the garden it comes back reliably year after year producing a steady flow of two or three blooms at a time.