When we moved in here, right next to the kitchen door was a Viburnum tinus. This is a useful shrub for winter because it blooms all through the worst months. But unless you have it by your door you may not have noticed that it smells like wet dog. Or worse. It is not very welcoming and anyway I look out on this corner every day, I wanted something special. It was a huge shrub though. Not a job for me when I still hadn’t recovered from digging up the lawn, and the Pianist has his hands to consider. Luckily I know the Man With the Mattock. It nearly defeated him too.
Clematis alpina ‘Jacqueline du Pre’ is the loveliest shade of pink and looks gorgeous in spring on the fence here now that the stinky Viburnum is no longer. But we’ll leave this corner for now, I’ll tell you about it another time. It is devoted mainly to winter and spring interest and I want to show you all the summer treasures in the front garden.
It is a cottage garden so it is double parked with as many plants as possible. After I had dug up the lawn I had to have a path laid from the drive to the front door. After that I could enjoy the planting. I had brought plenty of my favourites with me and I had been growing a lot from seed in readiness. I planted acquilegias, lilies, peonies, poppies, campanulas, astrantias to name but a few. Even though I got rid of the knobbly-kneed ‘Iceberg’ roses I left the other ones that grew round the lawn. Of course as this is an old cottage there are roses round the door too.
The palette is restricted to shades of pink, blues, purple and white and to stop it looking insipid I use lots of dark flowers. In Spring I have masses of Tulip ‘Queen of the Night’ in gleaming black.
And the double version of ‘Queen of the Night’ which is the sumptuous ‘Black Hero’.
I can’t resist fringed tulips so I grow them in different shades of pink.
Later on the opium poppy; Papaver somniferum ”Black Beauty’ is gorgeous. I sowed a whole packet of seeds and this is the only one that came up double and really dark.
I love dark foliage plants like Heuchara ‘Purple Palace’. With it in this photo is Dianthus barbatus ‘Sooty’. It is easy to grow from seed and once you have it it seeds around happily. The little Campanula to the right is ‘Pink Octopus’ which is curious rather than beautiful.
Also easy from seed is this lovely Symphyandra zanzegur with its masses of little bells. It seeds around too. I think it looks good with the silver leaved, furry Stachys, Allium christophii and the rare white corncockle.
I love bell shaped flowers and I grow lots of Campanulas. This one is Campanula ‘Sarasto’.
Here is Campanula takesimana. ‘Elizabeth’. It spreads quite a bit but I like it so much I don’t mind.
Other plants edging the path are dwarf irises, which flower earlier than the tall bearded ones do. Here is the deep purple ‘Cherry fields’ and a blue and white one that I don’t have a name for.
I’m particularly fond of this dwarf Iris; ‘Green Spot’.
The garden faces south so I can grow Cistus, lavenders and pinks. This is Cistus purpureus which is pink with a maroon blotch on each flower.
I love pinks and as they do well here I have several lining the paths. Dianthus ‘Dedham Beauty’ was bred by Alex Pankhurst who lives nearby. It is very highly scented.
I have to grow ‘Gran’s Favourite’ as it was my Gran’s favourite pink.
Two more very fragrant pinks that spread into nice clumps.’
I love blue flowers so I have Geranium ‘Orion’.
I grew some blue and white Geranium pratense ‘Splish Splash’ but the results were a bit disappointing So many of the seedlings turned out like this. All ‘Splish’ and no Splash’.
Other blue flowers are the startling metallic blue of Erynguim alpinum and this blue flax: Linum narbonense which has sky-blue silk flowers that open in the sun. It seeds around and flowers for weeks
In a sheltered spot this Carpenteria californica seems to be flourishing.
I love a few white highlights to lighten things up. And in a cottage garden you have to grow madonna lilies: Lilium candidum. They are tricky though and prone to virus. They seem to thrive on benign neglect. If you start cosseting them they sulk.
And what could be more persil white than the silky flowers of the rare white corncockle: Agrostemma ‘Ocean Pearl’? I love it although it is an annual and it is not always easy to get hold of the seeds.
Love it or loathe it this rose ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is an unusual colour. It is certainly not blue but I rather like its washed out purple shade. It is growing with Linaria which put itself there and it is rather a good match.
I love this damson coloured oriental poppy; Papaver ‘Patty’s Plum’. It was discovered in Somerset on Patricia Marrow’s compost heap by Sandra Pope. Imagine finding something like that on your compost heap! The other oriental poppy in the front garden is Papaver ‘Cedric Morris’. Sir Cedric was quite disparaging about this poppy, he said it resembled ‘dirty knickers’. it is a slightly greyish pink but rather charming.
I don’t particularly like Cotoneaster but this makes a good climbing frame for c!ematis.
And here is the view looking along the new path. It looked rather like the yellow brick road when it first put down but now it has matured so it doesn’t look too bad.