With storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin all taking their toll on us in the United Kingdom at the moment I thought it would be nice to take a trip back in time to summer this year when the days were warm and the air was still.
This video is a collation of snippets that I took at the time but have not yet done anything with. So, a wet and windy Sunday afternoon in February seemed the ideal time to sit down, bring them together and remember the scents and colour of summer.
This short video takes a meander around the gardens close to the house, the new twilight garden that we have been developing, the wild flower meadow experiment that we sowed in the spring, the Paul’s Himalayan Musk in its prime clambering high into the silver birches, the old rose garden with its spectacular 8 foot foxgloves, the orchard which we were preparing for my daughter’s wedding and into the formal flower garden where the climbing and shrub roses were in full bloom.
Enjoy a slow wander around the flower beds and listen to the birds.
Post script: In the last few months my aging laptop has found it increasingly difficult to process and edit large video files. On this occasion I tried out a free service in the cloud called moviemakeronline.com which you access through a standard web browser. It was simple to use for the kind of editing and merging that I needed to do and in particular did not need me to have a powerful PC. No software needs to be downloaded and installed and for me it worked a treat.
The garden and surrounding countryside have suddenly been cloaked in ice crystals this week. Due to a third national lockdown our single track lane is free of cars and most people are keeping warm indoors by their house fires.
It is all really rather beautiful and looks as if an ice wand has been waved across the trees and put the whole garden to sleep. Here are my Six on Saturday for this week which try and capture the feeling of the moment.
Happy New Year everyone!
This post is a contribution to the Six on Saturday meme which is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other garden lovers are enjoying this weekend.
Yes we have been plant shopping once again over recent months. Certainly there have been far more than six (!) but here are a selection for this week’s Six-on-Saturday.
One: Euonymous japonicus ‘Benkamasaki’ (Erecta)
We have cleared and replanted a short path near the entrance to the garden gate. Although this area looked lovely for a short time during the early summer it tended to look rather untidy and drab for the rest of the year.
We have been looking for plants that will keep there shape and also have some kind of interest during the winter months as well. There is nothing worse than having to brush past wet plants in the winter months every time you go in and out of the house. Rejuvenating this area has also allowed us to dig up, divide and replant the bearded iris that grow well here.
Browsing around the local plant nurseries we came across this Euonymous japonicus which we have not grown before. It has an erect fastigiate habit of branches that are entirely covered in shiny evergreen small leaves.
Two: Rose ‘Eustacia Vye’
The recent lockdown period has also given us time to totally redesign a large border that is directly opposite the patio and one that we often sit near whilst having our relaxed morning coffee (the joys of retirement!). The new border has become known as the ‘Moon Garden’ and the intention is to create a bed that continues to shine in the evening light but also has gentle hints of colour to enjoy during the day. Fragrance will also be an important component of this area as the design develops.
One of the focal plants in this bed will be Rose ‘Eustacia Vye’. We have just planted six of these lovely roses and already they are flowering their socks off. Apparently named after the flawed heroine of Thomas Hardy’s “The Return of the Native”, this rose is highly fragrant and has deep pink buds that open to these delicate apricot pink blooms and age to a soft pink. I am really looking forward to the impact of these shrubs in the years to come.
The new Moon Garden will have a range of white and purple flowers that seem to shine out or glow at dusk. These include plants such as Lysimachia clethroides, Nicotiana sylvestris and the white cosmos ‘Purity’. We have also included the tall purple Verbena bonariensis which to my mind seems to just glow in the evening light.
However it is not just about the flowers as we have also decided to include a a range of plants with silver foliage to add to the effect. These include:
Three: Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’
This evergreen perennial should grow into a significant plant of around 60cm in height and width. It has striking grey leaves edged with cream white.
Euphorbias seem to like our garden soil and hopefully this one will also settle in well to this bed which is well drained and in full sun all day long.
Four: Helichrysum stoechas ‘White Barn’
Discovered and named by Beth Chatto, we have placed a couple of these lavender sized plants within the new Moon Garden to add additional grey foliage but also a slightly different texture.
Five: Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Ball’ and ‘Golden Ball’
‘Silver Ball’ was another impulse buy as we wandered around the plant nursery. Again for the Moon Garden, our intention is that these will add some formality and structure to this border. A native of New Zealnd, it is a compact, dense shrub that should create two neat domes of around 80cm.
However, having fallen in love with ‘Silver Ball’ we just had to go back and get ‘Golden Ball’ for the new ‘tidy’ beds at the garden entrance and front of the house that I mentioned earlier. The intention here is to create a ‘warmer’ evergreen feature with the golden leaves that will look good both in summer but also throughout the darker winter days.
In last weeks six we highlighted a range of the container plants that we are trying this year and there wasn’t room to include some of the Coleus that we have discovered. We haven’t grown Coleus since the 80’s and possibly they are a bit out of fashion these days. However, there seemed to be some wonderful varieties available now and they happened to find their way into the shopping basket. All being well we should be able to bulk these up and propogate them if are careful.
I am not sure we have found the right position for them yet as some are getting marked. The beauty of plants in pots is that you can move them around to find the position they like best.
In addition to those we found at the nursery we have also successfully grown ‘Festive Dance’ from seed this year. They have been hugely successful and are rather cute little baby plants with a gentle ‘sparkle’ on the leaves.
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.
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.
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.
Two: Rhapsody in Blue
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
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
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’
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.
Six: Paul’s Himalayan Musk
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.
That’s it for this week. I strongly suspect that roses may well appear again in the coming weeks.
Rose ‘Arthur Bell’ is a delightfully fragrant yellow climbing rose. It is a floribunda type rose which has these delightful rose buds with a subtle red strip. Each of these buds opens to a rich yellow flower which then fades to pale yellow. This means that at any one time the rose has a range of delightful new rose buds and a mix of strong and pale yellow flowers on the same plant.
We have had this climbing rose for over 15 years and to be honest it was beginning to show its age. This year (in an attempt to give it one last chance) we pruned it back quite hard and gave it a good feed. It has responded extremely well producing a number of strong new shoots and is flowering well once again. It is an old friend and a firm favourite.
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.