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.
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.
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
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
In total contrast is the cool haze of the woodland garden where the cow parsley is in its absolute prime.
Three: White and purple
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.
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
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.
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.
There is no doubt that Wisteria can be one of the most spectacular flowering plants in the garden. Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) can grow to 20-30 feet and is at its best from late April to June. It is a member of the pea family and produces a cascade of splendid fragrant blue flowers.
Despite the regular summer pruning back to 6 buds, our plants were getting rather large, tangled and out of hand so in February this year Carol undertook a major prune, removing some of the most wayward stems and cutting back to three buds. It has responded well and is producing a really good show of flowers. I really like the contrast of the blue wisteria with these Ronaldo and Grand Perfection tulips.
New plants can take up to ten years or more to flower so when buying a Wisteria it is well worth buying a plant that is already in bloom. In this way you know that you are going to get a plant that will perform for you in a relatively short space of time. The other crucial thing to think about is how you are going to support what will be a very heavy plant. Many train Wisteria on strong wires against a wall or house. Here we wanted to view it from all sides and so have grown it around a framework of arched steel rods. In around 15 years it has developed some substantial twisted stems that are a feature in their own right.
On the same supports we also grow Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ which is a native species of North America. A little more compact than its oriental cousins, it tends to flower a little later and so continues the show into the early summer.
If you want an even taller wisteria then you could consider the Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis). This can grow to 40-60 feet and can be distinguished from the Japanese Wisteria by the fact that the stems twine in the opposite direction – that is anticlockwise rather than clockwise.
The flowering of the Wisteria in the garden is anticipated eagerly every year and rarely does it disappoint.
After an unseasonably warm February we are now back to a more traditional March menu of sunshine and showers and windy days. In between showers it is nice to just wander and browse. Every day now there is something different emerging. Green shoots are visible on many perennials and the peonies that we moved in the autumn to a new home in more sunshine are all looking very promising.
At this time of year it is the little things that matter. There is no full-on show of summer flowers but the small clumps of bulbs and other spring flowers that come back year after year are always very special.
It will be interesting to see whether the warm February will bring on the spring flowers earlier this year. These photographs were all taken on 11th March 2019.
Whilst sitting enjoying a well earned cuppa, it struck me how wonderful the two flowering cherries (Prunus incisa ‘Paean’) that flank the patio steps were looking. They are in full flower and certainly the significant pruning that we gave them last year after flowering to get them back into shape has done them no harm at all.
Even when not in leaf or flower the old twisted wisteria stems add real character to this patio area.
In the more shaded areas and in the top copse the primroses are now beginning to emerge taking over from the snowdrops that seemed to go over quickly this year in the warm weather. One of the jobs for the next week or so will be to lift and divide some of the snowdrop clumps whilst they are in the green. The snowdrop walk in the top copse has developed well but the individual clumps look ready to be divided and spread around to develop the walk even further.
Also in the woodland walk the first of the Anemone blanda are starting to emerge. We planted these some years ago now but although they seem to come back year after year they do not seem to have multiplied up to any great extent. They appear to be very delicate but seem to withstand the wind, rain and cold.
Somewhat unexpectedly we have found that some of the Anemone coronaria corms that we grew when we were growing commercially for Honey Pot Flowers have survived well over the winter and are flowering again. When growing for sale we tended to replant each year to ensure that we had good quality long stemmed flowers. This is less important in a private garden and if they continue to survive and establish more naturally they will be a great addition to the new flowering garden.
Regular readers will know that we are transforming what used to be our flower farm into a more aesthetically pleasing flower garden where we can just enjoy growing flowers for ourselves rather than for sale. The structural work is now all complete and the formal hedge is beginning to establish. We think it has all survived the hot dry summer last year but only time will tell. There is plenty more scope for plants that will give more winter interest in this part of the garden and we are currently planting a new area of colourful Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ and the red stemmed Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ on the moist bank at the north end.
One of our favourite spring flowers that seem to thrive here in Warwickshire are the Hellebores. They seed themselves freely around the garden and are pretty trouble free. It is such a pleasure to bend down and lift their heads to see the beautiful markings on the inside of the flowers.
Another plant that is flowering its socks off is the perennial wallflower (Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’). Although we always admire this plant in other people’s gardens, especially when combined with striking orange colours later in the year, it has been some years since we have had one in our garden. It was planted last year in an open position in full sun and has established very well, remaining evergreen with some flower throughout most of the winter. It is now getting into its stride as the weather warms up. Luckily it is very easy to propagate from cuttings and we have a good number of young plants growing well in the greenhouse that will allow us to create an excellent show across the flower garden and create some continuity in different beds.
Not much is happening in the orchard yet although the young apricot is beginning to flower. The buds of the pear blossom are beginning to swell and new green leaves are just emerging on the quince. Whether it is just too early for the apricot fruit to set remains to be seen but we were very successful last year despite the bitterly cold weather. Thankfully all the orchard pruning is now complete and the new tripod ladder that I wrote about in an earlier article has helped enormously (both with pruning the orchard and bringing down an enormous Pyracantha to a manageable height).
Many of the evergreen foliage plants are certainly earning their place in the garden at this time of year. The neatly clipped Lonicera nitada hedges, the evergreen Hebe, Skimmia, Pittisporum and trailing ivy all create structure throughout the garden and have done all winter. Alongside these green shades new leaves are emerging. Very striking is the rich golden foliage of Spirea japonica ‘Goldflame’ which shines out in the spring sunshine.
The stars of the show at this time though are the bulbs. Small clumps of the miniature narcissus are returning like old friends in flower beds throughout the garden.
Hyacinths that we grew in pots in previous years and could not bear to simply throw away are now establishing themselves and creating a lovely spring show amongst the evergreen shrubs.
Even more exciting are the delicate flowers of the Chinodoxa that we are slowly building up around the garden. Their delicate pink and blue flowers seem to be establishing well at the base of the long hawthorn hedgerow and amongst the primroses on a sunny bank in the top copse.
I could go on! This is always an exciting time of year and there will be plenty to talk about over the coming weeks.
It is always nice to discover new gardens especially when they are on your doorstep. Morton Hall Gardens is located near Inkberrow in Worcestershire and opens for charity on only a few days a year. The gardens surround an 18th century manor house that has stunning views across the Vale of Evesham.
Despite the very difficult 2018 summer the gardens were full of colour. We were very impressed with the wide range of late season clematis that were in full flower throughout the garden. Most of the clematis in our garden are now past their best and we will certainly look out for some of the varieties we saw this week to enhance the late summer borders.
There is no doubt that a great deal of thought and attention to detail has gone into all the planting. The colour combinations worked wonderfully well in both the potager with its shades of yellow and red and in the formal borders of pinks, whites, pale blues and lavender. The density of planting was not cluttered and overdone and you could enjoy the individual plants and combinations.
A very impressive garden and well worth a visit if you get the chance. We will certainly go again at a different time of year if we get the chance.
The gardens are next open for charity under the National Garden Scheme (NGS) on 1 September 2018. I am sure that my photographs do not do the garden justice and you might like to visit the very informative website at: http://mortonhallgardens.co.uk
Garden location: B96 6SJ
Despite the weeks of dry weather here in the UK Midlands some of the garden plants have still performed wonderfully during August. These late summer flowers are adding a real freshness to the garden which has otherwise looked rather dry and scorched.
Here are my ‘Six on Saturday’ star performers.
One: Agapanthus africanus
These are the large evergreen Agapanthus with strap like leaves. They tend to be more tender than the deciduous types. These plants are growing in large terracotta pots that we take into the greenhouse for protection over the winter months.
Two: Sunflower ‘Vanilla Ice’
This is a medium height sunflower with delicate lemon yellow hand-sized flowers. They do need some support but if you keep dead heading you get a succession of good quality flowers throughout the summer. As you can see they are also enjoyed by the bees.
Three: Physostegia virginiana
This is a perennial that thrives in damp soil and full sun. Part of the cut flower garden is waterlogged for most of the winter and also remains moist through the summer months. The Physostegia (along with the Astilbe) love these conditions.
Four: Cosmos ‘Sensation Mixed’
One of my favourites. It is such a happy looking plant and the large colourful flowers complement the green fluffy foliage wonderfully. Over the years we have learnt not to treat it too kindly. If you plant it in ground that has not been previously cultivated you get masses of green leaves and very few flowers until very late in the year. Not terribly helpful for cutting. Growing in poorer ground with little additional fertiliser gives you many more flowers earlier in the year.
It has been difficult to choose just one Rudbeckia. They are so important to the late summer garden yielding masses of bold yellow and rust coloured flowers. This particular variety is an annual Rudbeckia hirta ‘Autumn Forest’.
Last but certainly not least in this six is the Abyssinian gladiolus, Acidanthera murielae. Unlike many of the garden gladioli it looks delicate and elegant and moves gently in the breeze. It has a wonderful scent and is good for cutting.
Having relatives in Cornwall we have been regular visitors over the years, seeing it at its worst in the depths of winter and at its best in spring when the lanes are full of spring flowers.
Each time we go we try to spend some time visiting gardens as well as walking on the moors. We like to seek out gardens that we have not seen before but also like to revisit old friends to see how they change throughout the seasons.
Cornish gardens are many and varied but could often be characterised by their rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias in the spring and massive blossoming hydrangeas in late summer. The climate certainly lends itself to growing more tender plants that may not be able to be grown ‘up country’. However, the wind does certainly blow in the winter months and for those that garden in this county a lot of effort is placed on creating effective wind breaks to protect plants.
Here are a selection of six gardens that we have enjoyed on our visits to Cornwall. As dog owners a key features has been that our four-legged friends can enjoy the visit with us.
One: Trebah Garden ( www.trebah-garden.co.uk )
I think this is probably one of our favourite gardens of recent times. A beautiful sub-tropical garden wending its way down the valley towards the sea. Excellent for dogs and most importantly a great restaurant for lunch!
Location: Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ
Two: Pinsla Garden ( pinslagarden.net )
Compared to some of the other gardens listed here this is a relatively small garden but one that has enormous charm. Described as a ‘romantic artist’s garden’ it is full of interesting plants, sculptures and landscaping features around every corner.
Photo credit: https://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk
Location: Glynn, Nr Cardinham, Bodmin PL30 4AY
Three: Pencarrow House and Gardens ( pencarrow.co.uk )
Situated on the edge of Bodmin Moor the very formal Italianate gardens of the Georgian mansion are very different from many of the other Cornish gardens listed in this six. The elegance of the garden fits the regency style beautifully and you can just imagine the well dressed visitors travelling up the valley to view the managed landscape garden.
Although many gardens now allow dogs on leads this is by far the most dog friendly garden and estate we have been to for a long time. Walking through the woodland on the estate off the lead was a real pleasure.
Location: Washaway, Bodmin PL30 3AG
Four: Ken-Caro Garden
An interesting garden with lily ponds and wonderful views across the valley towards Dartmoor. We visited in August but I suspect that like many Cornish gardens it would be worth visiting when the magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons are at their best. Dogs on leads allowed.
Location: Bicton, St Ive, Nr Liskeard PL14 5RF
Five: The Lost Gardens of Heligan ( www.heligan.com )
This is one of Cornwall’s major tourist attractions and we had been rather reticent to go in case it was just too full of people. However, with over 200 acres of gardens and estate it just soaks up the people and we found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable visit with a mix of relaxed Cornish sub-tropical gardens and more formal fruit and vegetable gardens. Once again this garden is dog friendly.
Location: Pentewan, St.Austell PL26 6EN
Six: Pinetum Gardens (previously Pine Lodge) ( www.pinetumgardens.com )
This is a garden we have visited on numerous occasions over the years and it never fails to please. At different times of year it has very different things to offer. I can remember us being totally blown away with the white wisteria bridge when we first visited and on subsequent occasions have noticed the huge range of unusual plants that we had not noticed on previous visits. The Japanese garden is a real gem and more recently we have enjoyed watching the winter garden develop. Well worth a visit.
Location: Holmbush, St Austell PL25 3RQ
One of the great things about planning and developing a new flower garden is that it is a wonderful excuse to go out and seek inspiration from other people’s gardens (not that we really need much of an excuse to visit the beautiful gardens across England!).
During last week (w/b 7 October 2017) we visited four varied Herefordshire gardens to find out how they had maintained the colour in their borders into October. We want to be able to extend the flowering season well into autumn if possible. We had not visited any of the gardens before and everyone offered something to think about.
Firstly a little about the gardens and then we will say something about the planting combinations we discovered:
Hampton Court Castle (www.hamptoncourt.org.uk)
Located at Hope Under Dinmore just south of Leominster, Hampton Court has been standing by the River Lugg for 600 years. This wonderful ‘formal’ garden is divided into a number of garden rooms with island pavilions, pleached avenues, grottoes, a yew maze and more. We thoroughly enjoyed this garden and will try and visit again at other times of year.
Croft Castle (nationaltrust.org.uk/croftcastle)
A National Trust garden situated near Yarpole and the home of some wonderful ancient oak and spanish chestnut trees. If you like walking and have a dog the estate is dog friendly and there are a range of well marked walks throughout the parkland. The castle has a walled garden and working vineyard.
Hergest Croft Gardens (www.hergest.co.uk)
A plantman’s garden with a wide range of interesting and unusual trees and plants. Located in the grounds of a building of the arts and crafts period the garden draws on specimens brought back by the plant hunters of the period. The garden boasts over 90 champion trees.
Berrington Hall (nationaltrust.org.uk/berringtonhall)
An absolutely stunning Georgian Manor and parkland near Leominster. The manor sits within the last landscape commission of ‘Capability’ Brown as well as having excellent walled gardens, kitchen garden and orchards.
October colour in these enchanting gardens
The first observation is that it is clearly possible to maintain the colour in your herbaceous borders right into October as long as you are clear of frost.
At Berrington Hall we saw beds of complementary colours brimming with colourful cosmos in a range of varieties and shades, complemented with pink malope (Malope trifida). These beds also made use of Nicotiana sylvestris creating a wonderful structural candelabra effect (and I suspect that in the evening these beds would also be bathed in scent). Contrasting some of the darker, purple cosmos was the lovely perennial sunflower which we assume was the variety ‘Lemon Queen’
Berrington Hall also made wonderful use of grasses within the borders which really come into their own as this time of year. The tall Miscanthus with its slightly pinkish seeds heads sits well with the candelabra of the Nicotiana sylvestris, Malope trifida and cleome. The Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ brings in a subtle red/brown which works well with the rest of the border.
But of course contrasting colours can give a totally different effect and bring a zing to a border. At Croft Castle the perennial sunflower ‘Lemon Queen’ sits alongside the tall floating stems of Verbena bonariensis. In the evening light this Verbena almost has a fluorescence as the light fades.
And lets us not forget the strong shades of autumn colour that can really bring a garden to life. Here at Croft Castle the Vitis coignetiae was in its full glory in the walled garden.
At Hergest Croft Garden we saw a more traditional autumn border of michaelmas daisies, sedum and saxifrage in pink, mauve and white. Very much loved by butterflies at this time of year these combinations are not to be under estimated.
In contrast, Hergest Croft also showed that the more tender perennials such as Salvia confertiflora and Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’ can still provide striking border plants at this time of year if frosty nights have not yet arrived. Mixed with dahlias and other salvias and edged with Liriope muscari these borders are still brimming with colour into October.
Dahlias also featured in the beds at Hampton Court Castle gardens along with white cosmos to give a light airy feel and more cottage style to the borders. A very striking addition was the strong architectural shape of the deep burgundy amaranthus, grasses and white cleome in these borders – stunningly effective planting.
In addition to this stunning planting of complementary shades, many of the borders a Hampton Court Castle also used contrasting colours to great effect. Combinations of strong blue with a very dense double ‘feverfew’ and also the yellow perennial Rudbeckia fulgida with tall stands of blue Monkshood (Aconitum) made wonderful combinations for an October border.
Plenty to think about…
Well there is certainly no doubt that, with planning, your herbaceous borders can look full of colour right into October. We will certainly be adding some of these combinations to our future planting plans for the new garden and I hope it has also inspired you to see that the garden has much to offer at this time of year and is not simply shutting down for the winter.