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I have been away on a cycling holiday in the beautiful Cotentin region of the Cherbourg peninsula. This is a part of Normandy which people rush past on their way to the south. But for cyclists like us, anxious to get away from tourists it is perfect. It is a land of lonely marshes and meadows punctuated by dykes and lazy rivers.
The wildlife is wonderful. We saw otters and storks. The otters were too fast for me but here is a stork.
Instead of acres of wheat and barley like we have here, there were little fields and hedges and meadows with beautiful Normandy cows and French Trotter horses or the distinctive donkeys of the Cotentin.
But apart from the solitude and the wonderfully flat, deserted roads, it was the abundance of wild flowers which particularly delighted me. So I was inspired to use wild flowers for a vase this week. It’s not really a walk on the wild side, just the bottom of my garden where the last vestiges of my wild flower garden are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. I used to have clouds of yellow daffodils followed by a froth of cow parsley and ox -eye daisies in the orchard. But then I got fed up with the total mess it looked in late summer and did away with it all to make way for my secret garden. I have planted a little copse of birches at the bottom of the garden and here I have wild flowers grown from seed along with the Ox Eye daisies and Knapweed which put themselves there.
I should have taken the photograph before I picked the flowers.
Just like in Normandy, the verges round where I live are full of Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis and Hedge Bedstraw, Galium mollugo. In the ditches and damp places you can find Meadowsweat, Filipendula ulmaria
The cornflowers are from my cutting bed and the Meadow sweet, Filipendula ulmaria is from the damp edges round my large pond which is little more than a puddle this year.
Meadowsweet used to be used as a strewing herb as Gerard says ‘The smell thereof makes the heart merrie, delighteth the senses’ – so it seems a good idea to have it in a vase as strewing herbs seem to have gone out of fashion now we no longer gnaw on bones and throw them over our shoulders. I have long admired Field Scabious and so I decided to collect some seed and grow my own. It is pretty enough to go in the borders. The little white starry flowers are Hedge Bedstraw, Galium mollugo.
In another out of the way part of the garden I have set some Ladys’ Bedstraw, Galium verum. I forgot to put it in the vase in the first photo. So here is the vase now. Lady’s Bedstraw was also used as a strewing herb and I can see why as it is beautifully fragrant, it smells of honey. It is very invasive so if you grow it put it in an out of the way place where it can romp away.
My Lady’s Bedstraw is in a sunny spot and it is abuzz with bees and butterflies and so is the Field Scabious and Greater Knapweed, Centaurea scabiosa. I have never actually planted the knapweed, in fact I spend my life trying to get rid of it. But the insects love it.
I have also used oats which were growing up the lane, a bit of White Campion and a few sprigs of orange Hieracium aurantiacum which is sometimes called ‘Foxes and Cubs’.
Actually, I think it looks better without the yellow Lady’s Bedstraw but I am keeping it in because the honey scent fills the room. The jug is a Portmeirion one which I bought when we visited a few years ago. I love to have a few native plants about the garden as long as they are not too invasive and the bees and butterflies really appreciate them.
In a Vase on Monday is hosted by the endlessly inventive Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.
I am going over right now to see what she has been up to and to catch up with other blogging friends.
Swirling in at number one, doing the Jarabe tapatio; the Mexican Hat Dance, we have Tigridia pavonia.
The Tigridia comes from Mexico. From the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa we have another bulb, Albuca shawii. It has deliciously fragrant, little yellow lanterns smelling of almonds and it is easy from seed. Mine live in the cold greenhouse but I am going to try some in the gravel garden to test for hardiness outside.
Number three has to be a lily. I love lilies and so I persevere even though lily beetle is a terrible problem. I don’t use a bug killer because even though the one generally used for lily beetle no longer contains the neonicotinoid; thiacloprid , it now contains deltamethrin instead. I don’t imagine this is very good for bees and other pollinators or for me either. So I have to pick them off by hand and squash them with my fingers which is revolting. It is also unnerving, as on the odd occasion, they appear to scream, or squeak in alarm as you attack them. It makes you feel an awful brute. But still, it is worth it if it means I get to enjoy the beautiful Asiatic lily ‘Night Flyer’ which is the deepest, darkest red.
Number four is another dark-coloured flower, or rather spathe. It is the weird -looking Arisaema costatum. It looks like a striped cobra-head with a long sinister tail.
Verbascums get unsightly foliage as they are attacked by the Mullein Moth but it is worth persevering with the beautiful Verbascum x hybridum ‘Snow Maiden’. Mine is cream rather than the more usual snowy white.
Another white flower which is really easy from seed is the whiter than Persil -white, corncockle, Agrostemma githago ‘Milas Snow Queen’ . The corncockle is no longer found in cornfields as all parts of it are poisonous. But I am not going to eat it and if you can exercise similar restraint then this pretty flower comes highly recommended; it is easy from seed and the satiny flowers with their little pencil dots are delightful.
Another easy plant from seed is the short-lived perennial, Catananche caerula. It is sky- blue with dark centres and the flowers have lovely silvery bracts. I have read that you can dry it, so I might have a go. The common name is ‘Cupid’s Dart’ Why Cupid should have blue darts I don’t know.
Another plant grown from seed is the lovely dahlia which I feature every year as I love it so much. Its grandmother was ‘The Bishop of Llandaff’ and I tried to get darker and darker children by throwing away the wishy -washy, paler red offspring and keeping the dark ones. I am particularly pleased with this one as it is very dark, (darker than it looks in the photo) and it has darker stripes down the petals.
For number nine I have chosen the lovely long spikes of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’. It blooms for ages, bees love it and I think it looks good echoing the spires of the Buddleia behind.
And now we come to number ten and I was hard pushed to pick out a favourite.
Romneya coulteri with its gleaming white flowers was a contender but they are disfigured by an attack of pollen beetle at the moment. I might have chosen the dainty ‘Dierama pendulum x pulcherimmum, Angel’s Fishing Rod, but it was so windy today, it wouldn’t stay in focus. So I am going for a foxglove. I love foxgloves and grow quite a few different ones. This one is Digitalis lanata. The flowers are rusty, veined inside and have a long white lip.
It is silly trying to pick favourite flowers when there are so many beauties vying for attention, but still it’s fun and next month I shall do another Top Ten Blooms of the Month and perhaps you will join me and show me yours.
And I do, I really love it, but for gardeners it means endless watering. It takes its toll on a girl.
Even though it is very hot, the Pianist is not being idle, as you can see, whilst Chloris wilts, he is on the mower. Mind you, as I keep telling him, he is lucky really; it is a nice, restful, sitting-down job.
Before I can sit down there are a few midsummer treasures to enjoy and share with you. The secret garden, which was last year’s project, is looking good now the roses and clematis have grown. Rosa ‘Phyllis Bide’ has been flowering for several weeks on the arches.
The rose in the front is ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ which is a repeat flowering rose and a gorgeous colour.
The clematis have done really well and are covering the trellis.
I have already mentioned my passion for roses and although some have finished they have passed the baton to later flowering ones including these two lovely ramblers. ‘Francis E Lester’ is climbing up an old plum tree and ‘Blush Rambler’ is blushing as she is obliged to climb the frilly pink knicker cherry tree.
The next two are nameless as they were already here and looking very sickly and spindly. It is amazing what a bit of a prune and a good feed can do. The first one has the healthy, blueish leaves of Rosa alba. I think it could be Rosa alba ‘Celestial’ as it it has the most wonderful fragrance.
Round the garden there a lots of other flowers which are delighting me at the moment. Here are a few. I love campanulas and this double one is gorgeous.
I love santolinas too and this is a nice compact one.
Anthemis tinctoria ‘Sauce Hollandaise’ looks edible with Bupleurum rotundifolius ‘Bronze’.
I love bronze flowers and behind this group I have the bronze foxglove, Digitalis parviflora.
And in pots there are some nice splashes of colour. The coleus is a nice bronzey colour and looks good with the acer.
I have lots of pots which I will show you another day but I will finish with the wonderfully fragrant Dianthus ‘Rainbow Loveliness’. Next year I shall have this in pots everywhere and all my friends will get a pot too. It smells fantastic.
Note. For people new to my blog, the first picture isn’t actually me. It is my disreputable scarecrow who clearly lives a life of dissipation when I am not looking.
June is a very pink month in the garden, I have lots of pink roses and how pretty they look in a vase. Even the ones that are hanging their heads looking overblown and blowsy sum up June for me.
I used the climbing ‘New Dawn’ which I have everywhere as it is very easy from cuttings. The two unruly weeping pears , Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ in my front garden have roses weaving through them and I have used bits of two of these; ‘Veilchenblau’ and the pale pink ‘Félicité Perpétue’ . Perpetua and her slave, Felicity were third century martyrs who suffered the gory deaths so much enjoyed by early Christian martyrs.
My house is also fragrant at the moment as I am enjoying vases of sweet peas in every room.
As an antidote to all this pink I have an orange vase this week. I never used to like orange flowers but now I can’t think why, I love them. I am appalled by Orange Presidents and Orangemen; the sinister DUP who our unappealing Prime Minister wants to cosy up to in order to hang on to power. But that is no reason to let beautiful orange flowers be tainted with bigotry and self-serving malevolence.
On the bottom left you can see the double orange poppy, Papaver rupifragum which seeds all round the garden.
I always think the Latin name for Californian Poppy; Eschsholzia californica has too many consonants but it is very pretty and easy. A few packets of seed sprinkled around and you have it forever.
I used just one rose, my lovely ‘Grace’ which is a David Austin rose and one I would never be without. On the right of the above photo you can see Bupleurum longifolium ‘Bronze Beauty’. It is an unusual plant with sprays of copper-coloured flowers. I save seed every year so that I can pop this everywhere.
Umbellifers are very fashionable and we all love frothy white Ammi and Orlaya. But I am very fond of yellow flowered ones too. I have used two different ones here, Lovage, Levisticum officinale and Parsnip, Pastinaca sativa flowers. I always leave a few parsnips to go to seed because I love the flowers.
The alstroemerias have a purple tinge so I used a few sprays of purple Geranium psilostemon. As an after thought I popped a bit of Bronze Fennel in to pick up the dark stripes on the alstroemeria flowers. I also used some flowers from a bronze Heuchera.
In a Vase on Monday is of course, hosted by the inimitable Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden blog.
I have never reblogged anyone’s post before as I prefer to write my own material. But last Sunday a very hot looking Amanda from Wild Carrot Photography appeared in my garden weighed down by a very business-looking camera. She had spent the afternoon taking photographs of Boxford gardens. I think her photos are superb and there are some keen gardeners and lovely gardens in Boxford. The first garden Amanda featured is Chequers which was the home of the late Jenny Robinson, a well-known and much esteemed plantswoman. Roy Lancaster called her ‘ the grand dame of horticulture’. She had an amazing collection of fritiĺlaries and other rare plants. It was the greatest honour to be invited to one of her summer lily-sniffing parties. It is lovely to see her garden is being cared for and loved. Maggie Thorpe needs no introduction to East Anglian gardeners, she is incredibly knowledgeable and her courtyard garden is divine. And it was nice that Amanda made the time to finish up here.
So with Amanda’s permission I thought I would share the post with you so that you can get a taste of a sunny June afternoon in a Suffolk village.
The prospect of another gloriously sunny weekend added to my eager anticipation of visiting Boxford Open Gardens in Suffolk – celebrating its 20th year. In 2016, on a scorchingly hot day, I had to juggle my time between Boxford’s delights and the beautiful garden at Leaven Hall in Leavenheath – which had its doors open […]
For gardeners, April, May and June are the golden months of the year but June takes the crown because it brings with it the dizzying, intoxicating splendour of roses. And aren’t they wonderful this year?
But first of all, craven apologies to all my blogging friends who I have shamefully neglected for the last few weeks. I haven’t yet even answered the lovely comments on my last post, but I will. I have been AWOL for various reasons, first of all technical; I have a new tablet but it has developed problems of its own and my laptop has been on go-slow to the point when I came close to throwing it out of the window. I have been away too, but for the last couple of weeks I have been working hard for a garden open day. Nothing grand like a NGS affair, it was only a village open day, and not even my village, I tagged along with the village down the road. But still one has one’s pride and I was determined to get it looking its best. I have dug and grubbed and pruned and polished and the garden does look great -but I don’t. Every evening finds me looking like a zombie, gibbering with exhaustion.
Ok, that’s not me really, but every day I am beginning to look a bit more like my alter ego, Chloris the scarecrow. It is a race as to who deteriorates the fastest.
As well as maintenance, I have completed two new projects, the first is a gravel area for alpines. This is round the sundial, an area which was always a total mess and I hope it will look good all year round now.
The second one is rather a curiosity. It look as if the female, Iris germanica which I took the seed from, has hybridised with the wild Iris foetidissima which is all over the garden. It certainly surprised me with its dainty little flower.
My other recent project is a gravel area round the new shed. As I painted the shed with stripes it looks like a beach hut so it has its own beach now.
In front of the shed has become a summer home for my collection of succulents which seems to be multiplying at an alarming rate. It has been supplemented recently by my lovely niece who is the Cornish Succulent Queen.
I grew some Agapanthus from seed and now have 22 healthy plants which is more than anyone needs but they have found a home on the beach and in a large pot. I have seen agapanthus growing on the dunes in Tresco so that is in keeping. Sort of.
I begged a cutting of the orange Horned Sea Poppy, Glaucium flavum from a friend.
Last’s year’s project, the secret garden is now beginning to look more established as the plants on the trellises have grown and filled out. I am encouraged that nobody has asked me this year what it is going to be. I found that rather depressing last year because it is not going to be anything. It already is.
Amongst the shrubs planted round the secret garden to make it more secret I have a lovely double philadelphus which is called Philadelphus ‘Snowbelle’.
The winter garden is now well established and has plenty for summer interest.
Down by the pond, plants are maturing too although I still have to keep plenty of pots
here to deter the heron who likes to be able to wade in.
I grew this Cornus alternifolia from a cutting and at last it is beginning to get a layered look to it.
I haven’t done much in the front garden, it will have to be next year’s project. But although neglected it is over- flowering with summer exuberance.
I have one or two hardy orchids in the garden and the trickiest to establish (and also the most expensive) are the slipper orchids, Cypripediums. I have lost two beauties and one has come up but is not blooming. But this one is now in its third year so I am hopeful that I am fulfilling all its finicky needs.
But never mind exotic orchids, it is the roses that are the attention seekers this month.
Climbing up a large holly I have a seedling of Rosa filipes ‘Kiftgate’. It seems to have all the vigour of its parent so goodness knows where it will end up.
I grew Cooper’s Burmese rose from a cutting and it is now making its way up my greengage tree. I love it for its huge single flowers and the glossy leaves which are always healthy and free from blemishes.
You haven’t got all day so I will save some roses for another time and I will finish with the beautiful climbing tea rose ‘Lady Hillingon’. She hangs her apricot heads languorously, but she is quite irrisistible.
It is Monday and I am enjoying the wonderful scent of a bunch of sweet peas as I write. So I offer them as a contribution to Cathy’s meme ‘In a Vase on Monday’. I started them in the autumn this year and they are so much better than my usual spindly efforts to grow sweet peas. I can’t remember the varieties but they are gorgeous.
In the greenhouse.
And in the garden, tree peonies.
But most beautiful and precious of all are my three babies all grown up .
My tree peony bloom is wearing a party dress of the finest, shimmering silk. As there are more than twenty blooms this year I have picked one for a vase. I feel I should polish the table, get out the silver and dress up in my best dress to entertain her. She is sitting in a hand-blown Victorian vase.
This magnolia has now formed a mature tree. It comes from a layered piece of one in my previous garden. Layering is the best method of propagating magnolias.
Another perfect match is the Clematis mantana Warwickshire Rose’.
The other two pink flowers are aquilegia vulgaris and a pink Spanish bluebell which I cannot get rid of so I have decided to enjoy them. The blue ones are even worse, threading themselves through the beds in the front garden.
There is no sun today to show the colours in the best light, but I picked the flowers yesterday and took a couple of photos outside.
In another vase I have picked these flowers as I have an abundance at the moment. I never realised they are fragrant. Do you recognise what they are?
‘In a Vase on Monday’ is hosted by Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden. There is a growing band of people who look forward to enjoying a vase on Monday so do have a look at what they have to show us today. I still have not had chance to catch up with my blogging friends, but I look forward to seeing what every one has been doing in the gardens later today.
One more look at my tree peony.