Mid-summer flowering clematis

Although the stars of June are certainly the roses, quietly creeping their way up among the trees and shrubs are the mid-summer flowering clematis. Here are six that are currently flowering around the garden, some large and some small but all add something quite special.

One: Perle d’azur

This pale blue, vigorous clematis has been slowly climbing up a large holly tree in recent years. Last autumn we did some major pruning on the holly to try and get it back into shape and we wondered whether the clematis would be as good this year. In the last few weeks it has begun to flower and clearly we have not done it any lasting damage.

P1040414 Perle d'azur

Two: Clematis viticella ‘Minuet’

A much smaller and less vigorous clematis than the Perle d’azur, ‘Minuet’ is climbing amongst a honeysuckle and rose in the old rose garden. It has delightful two-tone flowers.

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Three: Clematis texensis ‘Etoile rose’

We are not entirely sure about the name of this clematis but we think it might be ‘Etoile rose’. Each year we think it might be something different. Its small bell shaped, nodding flowers emerge from an ivy trellis close to the house and brighten an otherwise green backdrop.

P1040416 Etoile Rose

P1040417 Etoile Rose

Four: Blue large flowered clematis (variety unknown)

I have included this because it has such a beautiful flower. Not hugely vigorous it has survived in a quite inhospitable spot in dry shade for a number of years now. In the last few years we have begun to clear the over bearing shrubs and it has responded well. Any idea on the variety? The flowers are relatively large (c. 6 inches across) and it has very delicate markings on the sepals.

P1040370 Unknown

Five: Clematis ‘Voluceau’

Another clematis the we planted some years ago but has really come to life in recently years. The reddish purple flowers are very striking against the dark leaves of the ivy.

P1040372 Voluceau

Six: Clematis ‘Etoile violette’

My final choice is to show just how well clematis can be used to complement other plants flowering at this time of year. Here Clematis ‘Etoile violette’ is growing amongst the rose ‘American Pillar’. It is a striking combination that we enjoy every year. Both are very vigorous and sit together well.

P1040368 Etoile Violette

There is no doubt that the richness and diversity of clematis can add value to the garden throughout the year (if you love them too you might enjoy this article as well).


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

The June garden in all its glory

For this week’s Six on Saturday I thought it would be appropriate to simply let the garden talk for itself.  Just six shots that struck me as I enjoyed the June garden and all its lovely evening fragrance.

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Roses – Sweet Perfum de Provence, White perfumella, Prince Jardinaire and A Whiter Shade of Pale

 

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Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’
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Rose Blush Rambler climbing over the flower studio with purple hesperis and pinks in the foreground
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Rose Festival with fragrant Philadelphus 
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Roses – Rhapsody in blue with Absolutely Fabulous and Fellowship
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Rose American Pillar with Rose Compassion and Clematis Etoile Violet

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

 

 

 

Time to sow biennials

I always try to sow my biennials before the summer soltice (20th June) so that the plants are big enough to plant out by the autumn equinox (22 September) and can establish well before the winter.  We have not had rain for many, many, many weeks but today was a wet one and ideal for spending time in a cozy greenhouse sowing next year’s flowers.

Just as the garden is coming into full swing it does seem a little strange to be starting things off for next year but that is how we will enjoy the same fabulous show again in 2021.

Here are the things I have been sowing today and my Six-on-Saturday for this week.


One:  Foxglove ‘Pam’s Choice’

I love to have foxgloves popping up around the garden and Pam’s Choice is a particular favourite with its white flowers and purple throat.  It is similar to Elsey Kelsey which I also like.  This year it has looked striking growing with the purple hesperis.

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Foxglove ‘Pam’s Choice’ with purple Hesperis

Two:  Hesperis (Sweet Rocket)

We grow both the purple and white forms of Sweet Rocket.  They are just coming to an end now and are making way for planting out summer annuals.  The white form is lovely for brightening up a shadey corner or setting off a dark hedge.  As an added bonus it seems to attract many early butterflies.

For me Hesperis looks best when planted in a decent group of plants rather than singly.  This year we have grown it to great effect with Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and Tulip ‘City of Vancouver’.  It does however need a bit of staking.

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Three:  Erysimum (Wallflowers)

Over the years Wallflowers have been used extensively in municipal parks and gardens as part of brightly coloured carpet bedding schemes.  They have perhaps become a little ‘out of fashion’.  We try to use ours in a much more informal way within our early spring borders.  They give a range of rich colours which are unusual in the early spring and sit very well with tulips and other spring bulbs.

Today I have been sowing ‘Blood Red’ and ‘Fire King’ (which look great together amongst pale blue forget-me-nots) as well as ‘Vulcan’ and ‘Ruby Gem’.  In addition I have sown ‘Ivory White’ which you can just see in the picture above with the Alliums.  It wasn’t particularly successful this year but its creamy yellow flowers showed great promise and I think I will try and get more going for this bed next year.

Tulip Jan Reus mixed with Ballerina and scented Fire King and Blood Red wallflowers
Tulip Jan Reus mixed with Ballerina and scented Fire King and Blood Red wallflowers

Four:  Foxglove ‘Apricot’

This tall Apricot foxglove creates a very different effect from the ‘normal’ pink and white forms.  I put it with the Sweet Williams this year and they create a lovely contrast.

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Foxglove ‘Apricot’

Five:  Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

We started to grow the variety ‘Auricula Eyed Mixed’ when we were cutting flowers as event florists.  It is tall with nice robust stems and seems to be generally free from rust problems if you don’t overcrowd the plants.

The plants produce masses of seeds each year which I collect and keep for sowing in June.  I try to create new plants each year but many of the plants seem to be perennial.  If you cut them back hard after flowering they produce new fresh growth and keep flowering into the autumn.  They seem to stay green most of the winter in our garden and a bit of a tidy up and a feed in the spring produces another crop of flowers the following year.  Here they are growing amongst Nigella to great effect.

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Six:  Astrantia

This is not a biennial but I came across the seeds we collected last year from these dark pink astrantia plants.  What is wonderful about collecting your own seed is that you get so very much more than you receive when you buy seeds from commercial companies.  You do seem to get less and less seeds in a packet these days.

The astrantia seeds from last year all look really good so rather than let them go to waste I will have a go at getting them to germinate.  Many perennials like to have a period of chilling so that they think they have had a winter and are now emerging into the warmer springtime.  To mimic this I have put the tray of sown seeds into the fridge for 4 weeks in a plastic bag and will then bring them out into the warmth to let them germinate.  I will report back on how I get on.

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It is definitely rose time!

There is so much to see in the garden at the moment and Six on Saturday is simply not enough.  However, as we move from May to June it is the roses that are in the ascendency and I really couldn’t have a six this week without them.  I spent today cutting the grass and repeatedly stopped to smell the roses as I went past each time.  The grass cutting took rather longer than usual!

Here are six that I have chosen to highlight today – there could have been so many more.


One:  Boscobel

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This is a beautifully fragrant English Shrub Rose (also known as Auscousin).  This group of repeat flowering roses sits in front of a Cornus kousa which is also flowering wonderfully this year.

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Two:  Rhapsody in Blue

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Perhaps a slightly weird colour for a rose (it is on the way to blue but definitely not a true blue).  It is certainly a talking point and I think goes very nicely with the purple leaves of the Cotinus coggygria.


Three:  Comte de Chambord

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This is a very fragrant shrub rose that we planted as part of our 25th wedding anniversary rose garden.  Now over 15 years old they are still going strong (as are we!).  They combine very well with the Persicaria bistorta in the foreground and the brick red ‘My Castle’ lupins.


Four:  Rambling Rosie

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About three years ago now we converted the old flower growing area of our floristry business into a more aesthetically pleasing flower garden.  We simply love growing flowers.  We have planted a couple of climbing roses over two new pergolas and it has taken them a couple of years to really get going.  This year they are full of flower buds and ‘Rambling Rosie’ I hope will really perform this year.  Fingers crossed.


Five:  Rose ‘Festival’

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I have a bit of a soft spot for this rose.  It is one of a number the roses that I received as a leaving present when I left the East Malling Research Station in Kent and moved up to Horticulture Research International at Wellesbourne in 1992.  It is a lovely rose and seems to be very healthly despite its age.  In the foreground here is the pink Kolkwitzia which the bees absolutely adore with the white mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata) behind.

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Six:  Paul’s Himalayan Musk

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It has proved quite difficult to photograph this rambling rose which creeps its way up through the trees and shrubs and pops out flowers where you least expect it to have reached.  It is a lovely, strongly fragrant rose with small blooms in large drooping clusters. The colours of the individual blooms change as they age from blush pink towards white.

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That’s it for this week.  I strongly suspect that roses may well appear again in the coming weeks.

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It has been a rather blustery day…

It has been so windy this weekend that taking pictures for ‘Six on Saturday’ (and doing any gardening) has been a bit of a challenge.  Luckily there has been surprisingly little damage.  My other challenge has been limiting myself to just six as there are so many beautiful things emerging in the garden.  Anyway here are my six for this week.


One:  Anthericum liliago major (St Bernard’s Lily)

We saw this plant in the white garden at Bourton House Garden in the Cotswolds a couple of years ago and just had to have one.  It is lovely and has established very well.  Next year I think we will have a go at dividing it and spreading it further around the garden.   If you get a chance to visit Bourton House Garden is excellent.

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Two:  Eleagnus commutata

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This deciduous Eleagnus has been very successful growing in the long grass at the edge of the shrubbery.  It is currently covered in sweet smelling yellow/cream flowers and fills the air with scent even on a windy day like today.


Three:  Angelica archangelica

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These plants have been a long term project.  One of those spectacular, tall architectural plants that take a bit of time to grow.  They are biennials and I originally sowed the seed early last year planting them out in the early autumn.  This year they have come of age and the bees and insects absolutely love them.  They are tall (nearly 6ft) and magestic plants that stand up well despite the strong winds we have had this weekend.  I am pleased with them but I think my wife is less impressed!


Four:  Robinia

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This tree was originally grown from a small seedling.  It took a little while to get going but now each year it is covered with masses of white, fragrant, pea-like flowers.  It is something we always enjoy but beware it does have some seriously dangerous spikes.

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Five:  Dutch Iris ‘Red Ember’

As growers and former event florists I think we are both fans of dutch iris and typically grow the mixtures which are blue, white and yellow.  This year we tried the variety ‘Red Ember’.  It has a rather lovely exotic colour and I wouldn’t be surprised if we grow it again next year.  What we do need to do I think is decide what other plants would complement it in the border at this time of year.  Any views welcome.

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Six:  Greenfinches

Next for something completely different.  Greenfinches (Carduellis chloris) have been in trouble in recent years and their numbers have declined across the UK due to disease.  A recent decline in numbers has been linked to an outbreak of trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly.

Over the last couple of years we have heard the characteristic calls of greenfinches but they have remained high in the trees and rarely ventured closer into the garden.  This year we seem to have a group of three (perhaps juveniles) that have been skipping around the shrubs in the garden together.  Worth a place in the ‘six’ for this week I think.

P1040199 Greenfinch


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The sheer vitality of May

There is no particular theme for my Six on Saturday this week other than to highlight the sheer vitality and variety of the garden in May.  Here are my six for this week:


One:  Cotinus coggygria and Wisteria

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I have written recently about our Wisteria and it is complemented here so wonderfully by the new leaves of the smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria).  The early morning sun shining through the almost translucent young red leaves is stunning.


Two:  Anthriscus sylvestris

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In total contrast is the cool haze of the woodland garden where the cow parsley is in its absolute prime.


Three:  White and purple

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In this part of the garden (which is quite shady) we have tried to combine the late season creamy yellow ‘City of Vancover’ tulips with Allium ‘Purple Sensation’.  They have overlapped particularly well this year.  The white biennial sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis) really lights up this darker corner of the garden.  Rather less successful has been the ‘Primrose bedder’ wallflowers which are just visible.


Four:  Honeysuckle

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Whenever you walk down a Warwickshire country lane you will see the wild honeysuckle in the hedgerows.  It really likes this part of the world and so it is only appropriate that we allow it to flourish in the garden as well.  The evening fragrance is to die for.


Five:  Blues and yellows in the flower garden

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I particularly like this part of the flower garden at the moment.  Dutch Irises are such good value.  You get alot of bulbs for very little outlay and they seem to be very reliable in our soil.  We particularly like the mixtures rather than the single colours and they sit beautifully with the perennial wallflower (Bowles’s Mauve) and the lime green Euphorbia oblongata.  Bowles’s Mauve seem to keep flowering all year.


Six:  Weigela

Possibly one of our ‘unsung heros’ in the garden but I think Weigela is also worth a mention this week.  Year after year they flower in some of the ‘wilder’ parts of the garden.  They always bring a smile to our face.


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Six on Saturday – Hosta Identification Quiz!

My wife Carol has grown some fantastic Hostas again this year.  However over the years we have lost the labels and as part of this week’s Six on Saturday we would love to have some help in putting some names to some of the varieties.  Number One is the very large variety in the featured picture above and number Four I think is a lovely variety called ‘June’.   Hope you can help!


One:

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Two:

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Three:

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Four:

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Five:

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Six:

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Tulip celebration – mixtures and combinations

The tulips are at their most spectacular at the moment and I thought that it would be appropriate to celebrate them as part of Six on Saturday this week.

I have pulled together pictures of six combinations and mixtures that have worked particularly well for us this year. All were purchased from Parkers and planted in the autumn of 2019.


One: Ronaldo and Grand Perfection

Tulip Ronaldo came out slightly before Grand Perfection but the latter has now caught up and grown to a similar height.

P1040065 Ronaldo & Grand Perfection


Two: Pink Blend

This is one of Parker’s off-the-shelf mixtures so I am not entirely sure of the names of each of the varieties included.

P1040068 Pink Blend


Three: Purple Prince and Princess Irene

Princess Irene was much later and shorter than Purple Prince and initially we thought that this combination was not going to work very well. However they have now grown to a similar height and are looking lovely together in terracotta pots backed by a perennial planter of blue-grey foliage and purples.

P1040067 Purple Prince & Princess Irene


Four: Merlot, Marilyn and Maytime

One of our own combinations that we have used over a number of years in the old rose garden.

P1040070 Merlot Marilyn & Maytime


Five: Van Eijk Mixed

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Six: Apricot Pride and Stunning Apricot

These are two varieties that we have not tried before and they have proved to be lovely together sitting amongst the blue forget-me-nots.

P1040074 Apricot Pride & Stunning Apricot


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Six on Saturday: April blossom

Well what a few weeks of stunning spring weather we have had here in the United Kingdom. The blossom and flowering shrubs are looking spectacular, untouched by frosts or rain.  Fingers crossed, we should have a good crop of pears and cherries this year as it has been warm and sunny and the bees have been flying.

I have really been spoilt for choice this week with so much coming into bloom but I have decided to concentrate on the blossom and flowering shrubs.


Viburnum carlesii

P1040007 Viburnum carlesii

This shrub is certainly the star when it comes to fragrance at the moment.  Its large round heads of flowers have a wonderful scent that just hangs in the air.  This mature shrub is around 7-8 feet in height now and is situated nicely by the path where we walk regularly from the house to the garden.  A perfect position.


Malus

P1040029 Malus

I am not sure of the variety of this red leaved crab apple but it is performing extremely well this year.  We planted this small flowering tree in memory of our much loved German Shepherd ‘Fern’ and it brings her back into mind when it flowers each year.  It has sumptuous rich red flowers that contrast well with the white blossom of the wild cherry tree behind.

P1040030 Malus


Cytisus (Broom)

P1040038 Broom

This white broom is one of a number out in flower at the moment.  It is probably the Cytisus x praecox Albus but the label is now long gone.  For us this white flowered variety has a much more pleasant scent than the yellow varieties which can be a bit of an acquired taste.

Broom can tolerate quite poor soil and as a member of the pea family will also fix its own nitrogen.  Its green stems allow it to continue to photosynthesize during the winter months if the weather is mild.

P1040039 Cytisus albus


Pear

P1040043 Pear

We have three pear trees around the garden, a Doyenné du Comice, a Conference pear and an interesting cooking pear called Winter Nellis (excellent for Delia’s Spiced Pickled Pears at Christmas).  Along with the Cherry blossom the pears really bring the orchard to life.  The earliest orchard tree to bloom is the apricot followed by the plums, cherries and pears.  Very soon the orchard will shift from white to pink as the quince and apple blossom emerge.


Spirea arguta

P1040019 Spirea arguta

A couple of weeks ago I was praising the rich bronze foliage of a very different Spirea, Spirea japonica.  This week it is the turn of Spirea arguta.  This is a very reliable and easy maintence shrub that grows to about 5 feet in our garden.  At this time of year it is covered with small white flowers that make it look as if it has a dusting of snow.  In a week or two there will be a nice succession as S.arguta is replaced by S. nipponica.


Cherry

P1040041 Cherry

Last but not least I must highlight the blossom of the sweet eating cherries in the orchard.  I love these trees although to be fair the birds do seem to get far more of the large ripe cherries than I do.  Perhaps this year will be my year!

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