Another six star plants for August

Last week’s ‘Six on Saturday’ was a bit challenging as I just couldn’t decide which six to feature!  So, this week I have come back with another six stars of the August garden.

One:  Dahlia ‘Apricot Desire’

There are so many dahlias to choose from in late summer but this variety, ‘Apricot Desire’, seems to have performed very well this year.  It is such a beautiful and well shaped bloom.  Generally the dahlias seem to have been later this year but the plants are still looking very good and the buds are forming well.

As the picture shows, it will not be long until the Asters begin to flower as well and we are certainly looking forward with anticipation to the potentially striking combination.

P1020037 Dahlia Apricot Desire

Two:  Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’

We have grown a number of varieties of Ageratum over the years and the F1 ‘Blue Horizon’ stands out as both an excellent cut flower and border plant.  It is relatively tall, has strong stems and seems to just flower and flower and flower with little attention.  The powder blue is also quite unusual and sits well with yellows, whites and pinks.  Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’ is a plant that we grow without hesitation every year now.

P1020044 Ageratum Blue Horizon

Three: Chincherinchee

We grew this for the first time last year in large patio tubs and it performed wonderfully (see:  Chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) ).  We tried to overwinter the bulb with little success as they split into multiple tiny bulbules and presumably will take many years to grow big enough to flower effectively again.  As they are so cheap we bought another batch this year, started them in large pots and then planted out into the flower garden.

Once again they have grown into excellent plants and are producing good, strong stems (c. 18 inches) topped with these charming white flowers.  What I particularly like is that the don’t need any staking.  The second flush of flowers is beginning to develop now and they will probably carry on flowering until the first frosts.

P1020041 Chincherinchee

Four:  Phlox (probably ‘Bright Eyes’)

The Phlox in our garden never seem to be as big and lush as they are in other peoples’ gardens but they are such a lovely, fragrant flower that we continue to try year after year to develop and improve them.  They seem to thrive best in parts of the garden where there is continual moisture in the soil throughout the year.  Although we have some wonderful white Phlox in full sun they do need continual water to stop them flopping at the first sign of any drought.

P1020048 Phlox Bright Eyes

Five:  Aster × frikartii ‘Mönch’

Aster ‘Mönch’ comes into flower a few weeks earlier than many of the other ‘September flowers’ (see: Michaelmas daisies in the autumn sunshine ).  It is a charming plant with a loose airy habit and makes a wonderful cut flower. It is a perfect flower for many of our country style wedding bouquets.

P1020049 Aster Monch

Six:  Rose ‘Prince Jardinier’

This is one of the new roses that we have planted in the redesigned cut flower garden (see: New additions to our garden of Roses ).  Many have been repeat flowering but this variety just continues to produce these delicate light blooms with a darker pink centre.  Exquisite.

P1020047 Prince Jardinier

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Madame Alfred Carrière – our damsel in distress

Our large Madame Alfred Carrière rose is at least 15 years old and may be approaching 20.  It is a truly beautiful rose with large white flowers with a blush of pink and a sweet delicious fragrance.  It is a repeat flowering rose starting in June with a tremendous flush of flowers and continuing throughout the summer until October if the weather is kind.

Popular since Victorian times, Madame Alfred Carrière is a rose from the Noisette group which have virtually thornless stems and fragrant double flowers.  It seems to be very healthy and copes very well with its exposed location with virtually no protection from south-westerly winds.

Originally we planted this rose to climb up a pink cherry tree and provide a continuity of flowers after the spring cherry blossom had faded.  The cherry tree is alas long gone having died and rotted away.  We so love the Madame Alfred Carrière that we really wanted to find a way of allowing it to continue even though its support had gone.

The rose now grows up within a metal frame and its long arching branches cascade from the top.  However, this climber certainly grows strongly each year and the metal tubular frame is really not man enough for the job.  To help provide greater strength we have placed a large chestnut stake in the centre to give it greater strength and depth into the soil.

When in full leaf the structure has to carry a huge weight and the winds in late October have taken their toll.


Left to its own devices I think it would not have lasted the winter in this exposed part of the garden.  Drastic action therefore had to be taken to release the weight of the top foliage and straighten up the metal frame.


It doesn’t look pretty I admit but this severe pruning is really the only way to give it a chance over winter.  From experience it is a really tough plant and has bounced back in previous years.  Next spring new fresh shoots will emerge and in no time it will be growing strongly again with bright green, clean foliage.

Madame Alfred Carrière is a wonderful garden rose and a much admired treasure in the here at Waverley.  We don’t find it a useful cut flower because it drops its petals too quickly and has flimsy stems but it would make good petal confetti.

A gentle meander around the garden in November

The overriding features of the garden this month are the rich colours of the autumn leaves and the bright red berries so loved by the birds.  The birds have just about finished off the Pyracantha berries but the Cotoneaster still remain for the time being.  I am sure these will be next.

Usually October sees the finest autumn leaf colour but this year the leaves seem to have held right into November.  The high, gusty winds of the last few days (22/23 Nov) have removed a lot of the leaves but the stunning bronze shades of the flowering cherries (Prunus incisa ‘Paean’) still remain.

Flowering cherry
Rich autumn tones of the flowering cherries still holding their leaves in November

There are, however, sparks of interest all around the garden.  The Fatsia japonica which sits in full shade just behind the house has been in full flower for a good month now with is large, white architectural flowers.  These flowers, along with the ivy, are a great source of late autumn pollen and nectar for a wide range of insects and bees.

Large white flowers on the Fatsia japonica

Still in full flower throughout the garden is Schizostylis (Kaffir Lily) in its range of intense red and pale pink flowers.  Even in November it is still throwing up new fresh buds.  In our recent visit to Ludlow we managed to pick up a new variety (to us) of Schizostylis ‘Pink Princess’ which is a delicate blush pink and we look forward to it settling well into the flower garden.  The plant was already established enough to divide into three so we already have a reasonable clump for next season.

There are also a number of unseasonal surprises including Astrantia and Centranthus which have thrown up a second (or even third) flush of flowers having been cut back after flowering earlier in the year.    The Centranthus (Valerian) in particular is looking very fresh and almost glows in the dim autumn light of the afternoon.

Centranthus (Red Valerian) flowering in late November

It is noticeable that some of the evergreen shrubs are putting on a last flush of new growth before the temperature gets too cold.  Our variegated Pittosporum is looking particularly fresh and healthy at the moment.  It is something we use often in our floristry and it is pleasing to see it growing so well.  Also growing well are our recently planted Rosemary bushes which are putting on long straight stems that will come in useful for both attractive, fragrant wedding buttonholes as well as kitchen use over the coming months.

Variegated Pittosporum continuing to grow strongly

One of the major jobs for the winter months is to prune back and refresh all the roses around the garden.  This is a significant piece of work and something that we spread over a number of weeks once the cold weather sets in and the roses have lost their leaves.  All the climbers will be untied from their supports, the old stems taken right out and a few new stems selected on each plant to tie back in.  Any remaining flowers heads will be taken off and all the small side branches will be pruned back to 3 or 4 buds making a neat and tidy look throughout the winter.

But the shrubs are not all going to sleep.  Some of the winter flowering shrubs like Viburnum x Bodnantense are now coming into bloom.  This is one of those shrubs that offers a wonderful waft of scent on those cold winter days as you wander around the garden.

Another main stay of the late summer and autumn garden are the hardy fushias.  These really are low maintenance shrubs and continue producing the characteristic blooms way into November.

Hardy fushias flowing strongly late into November

Rather unexpectedly the Japenese Quince (Cheanomeles) is already flowering, something we would not normally expect to see until after Christmas.  Other spring flowering perennials like Bergenia are also already in bloom and looking fresh and bright.

Before the winter sets in a lot of of preparation has been going on to ensure that we have a wonderful flush of colour in the spring.  Tubs have been emptied and planted up with tulips, crocus and topped with winter flowering Viola’s and Panies.


All of the dahlias have now been lifted from the old rose garden and the areas cleared.  Tulips, English Iris, Crocus and Alliums have all been planted.   We have planted a number of Allium cristophii which we hope will establish and create a real statement throughout the flower garden next year and beyond.

The biennials that were seeded last June and planted out in September (wallflowers, sweet william, foxgloves, sweet rocket, hollyhocks and campanula) are all establishing well and look like they are now big enough to survive the winter without problems.  The hollyhocks have grown into large plants already but do seem to be suffering from a little rust.  Hopefully this will not cause problems further down the line.

Things in the garden may be slowing but the greenhouse is full of newly seeded perennial plants that will over winter under protection and be planted out in the spring.  These include Lupin ‘Noble Maiden’ (white) and Lupin ‘Chandelier’ (yellow), Aquilegia ‘Blue Star’, Delphinium ‘Black Knight’ and Achillea ‘Summer Berries’.  Sown in September, these have all developed into good strong little plants for the winter.

Also in the greenhouse we continue to grow on our fresh herbs (coriander and rocket) for use in the kitchen.

Greenhouse seedlings
September sown Lupins and Achillea over wintering in the greenhouse

In preparation for the cold winter weather we have now brought all the Agapanthus in pots into the cold greenhouse.  The hardier, deciduous varieties with their narrow leaves will need little further attention until the spring but the non-deciduous larger leaved varieties will be covered in fleece or bubble wrap when we get very cold nights.  We have also brought the Ornithogalum into the greenhouse to overwinter.

The non-hardy Chrysanthemum’s that have been flowering profusely outside in the flower garden have all been dug up, cut back and potted up in the greenhouse to overwinter.

In the orchard pretty much all of the apples have fallen now.  Some remain on the Tydeman’s Late Orange and the Bramley for later picking.  We have had a huge, wonderful crop and those that have not been used for cider making, putting in the freezer or been given away are unfortunately now falling to the ground and need to be cleared and put on the compost heap.  I keep thinking I need to find someone that keeps a pig to help me out at this time of year.

The woodland walk is quiet at the moment but there are already signs of the promise of spring.  We are slowly developing a snowdrop walk in this part of the garden complemented by cyclamen and beautiful yellow primroses that we were given from an Aunt’s garden on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

The yellow-stemmed willow that is close to this wooded area has now lost its leaves and stands straight and tall at the edge of the copse.  This will look stunning right through the winter particularly on days where the weak winter sun shines through the bare stems of the copse.

Yellow stemmed willow

We have also recently planted a new Acer palmatum  in this sheltered area.  This was one of those irresistible buys from our recent autumn visit to Hergest Croft Garden in Herefordshire.  We have not been very successful with Acers in the past but the one in our neighbour’s garden looks stunning in the autumn so it is certainly possible to grow them in this part of the world.  Fingers crossed this time.

As we move towards December the gardening will continue.  Seventy new roses will shortly be arriving from Griffin Roses and these will be planted into the new flower garden.  All the beds are now dug over and prepared to receive these bare rooted shrubs.  Busy times ahead!



3 fragrant roses for Autumn

Roses for October
Repeat flowering roses flowering well into October

June may well be the best month for roses in the garden but there are some stonking repeat flowering varieties that continue to flower well into the autumn.

These are three of our favourites growing in the Honey Pot Flowers garden and photographed on 17 October.  They all flower consistently well, remain remarkably unblemished by the wind and rain and are good for cutting having long, strong stems.

“Boscobel” (deep pink – good fragrance)

“Sweet Juliet” (light peachy pink – very strongly fragrant)

“Simply the Best” (peachy orange – mild fragrance)

If only you could experience the fragrance wafting around this room with me now !!

Future plans for the cutting garden

Cutting garden plan small

The Honey Pot Flowers cutting garden has been a very productive space over the last six years providing us with a wide range of beautiful cut flowers for use in our wedding flowers, gifts and celebration bouquets.

However to grow efficiently and provide easy cutting the garden was created in long straight beds using large blocks of the same species or variety. It worked very well for us but we have decided that we want now to develop the garden to be more aesthetically pleasing, still a cutting garden but somewhere that you want to stop, sit and enjoy.

Visitors often think the cutting garden will be a wonderful sight, full of colour, but in reality there is often little to see as it has all been picked.  By its very nature an efficient, large commercial cutting garden will be constantly picking and there should only be a few flowers in bloom.

Our aim over the next few years is to move away from a production orientated flower garden to one that a wonderful place to be.  No longer large blocks of a single species but a garden that has wonderful colour combinations and fragrant flowers, changing naturally as the seasons develop.

During the last six years, working as wedding florists with seasonal British flowers, we have learnt a lot about bringing together stunning combinations and arrangements.  We recognise that these ‘bouquets’ cannot necessarily be created in a garden setting as many of the plants you use in a bouquet may need different growing conditions.   However, what we are seeking to create as you look across the garden each day of the year is a series of colour themed cameos along similar lines.

This vision requires a major change to the layout and design of our flower garden.  It will continue to include a wide range of annuals, biennials and perennials but will increasingly involve more shrubs and roses.

I call this approach formal informality.  We have used this in other parts of the garden very effectively, combining formal well clipped hedging with cottage garden planting of foxgloves, hesperis and campanulas.  In my view the association works very well and creates a striking effect.

In addition to adding more formal hedging and having fun with our planting plans we are also looking to use height variations to add additional interest.

More details to follow …