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.
I have just found your blog which is very enjoyable and entertaining, looking forward to more of your posts. We took out a huge Viburnham tinus this year, a monster with ragged viburnham beetle eaten leaves and yes it did smell of wet dog. Your garden photos are gorgeous too.
Thank you, ,Julie for reading my blog and for your kind comment. That smell puts you off Viburnum. And what a beast it is to dig up.
I love hardy Geraniums with blue flowers. Never heard of ‘Buxton Blue’ but it looks perfect!
Whoops! Thank you for your comment Jason, it made me realise realise I had made a mistake which I have amended. This is Geranium ‘Orion’. ‘Buxton’s Blue’ is further along and is gorgeous with white centres and black anthers. I have another lovely blue one called ‘Rozanne’ which is similar to ‘Buxton’s Blue’ and flowers its heart out for weeks.
I took out a Viburnum tinus when we first moved in here too. I love all your pretty cottage garden flowers.
Thank you Alison. Apart from the smell Viburnum tinus looks so coarse, there are so many much prettier winter things to grow.
It is wonderful and is the look I am striving for in my garden. Maybe I don’t plant enough in the space, what is your secret
Thank you Helen. My problem is I plant too much. I always take cuttings even when I don’t need them. I grow lots from seed and can’t bear to waste any seedlings. I’m like the old woman who lived in a shoe, except the children are plants. (I’ve only got 2 of the human kind.) The other problem is even though I know how big shrubs will grow I refuse to give them the space they will eventually need. So everything is crammed in with a shoe horn.
Viburnum tinus was one of the first plants we dug up too, we all seem to have been digging them up – who are the people who plant them in the first place! Your cottage garden looks so pretty, all the flowers are really beautiful and so well co-ordinated!
Thank you Pauline. I love your garden, it is gorgeous. I am now following your blog. I tried before but failed. I realise now I didn’t put my email address in. I’m afraid I’m hopeless when it comes to technology. The worst ones are the ones that say things like ‘follow this blog with tumblr’ or ‘bloglovin’ What are they talking about? And why can’t they spell? It’s all a mystery to me, I’m just a simple gardener.
Your post made me smile Chloris. Himself had a difficult job a couple of years ago removing a mature viburnum from our garden – in the end a rope and a camper van were involved in the proceedings! Can’t say I ever noticed the wet dog smell but I do miss its winter flowers. You have some beautiful flowers growing in your garden.
A camper van and a rope- now there’s a thought. However many stumps you remove there are always more waiting to be done.It’s a fact of life. Mind you I haven’t got a camper van.Where do you live Anna?
I don’t blame you for removing the smelly Viburnum in favor of that beautiful Clematis. Your cottage garden is spectacular! I grow a few of the same plants (like the geraniums) but others, like the tulips (even when pre-chilled) can’t survive the combination of our warmer temperatures, low rainfall and our untimely Santa Ana winds.
Thank you Kris for your comment. I do have to replace many of the tulips each year which is an extravagance but they are worth every penny.
Those pictures are just what I needed on a cold wet day. Beautiful! That was quite a monster of a viburnum you ripped out!
Loved the tulips especially. I can’t wait for spring.
I can’t wait for spring either but after Xmas each day things seem to be plumping up in the garden and lots of bulbs are just ready to open.
Wow, very beautiful garden and palette of flowers. I do not envy digging out that Viburnum though.
Thank you for your comment. Well I didn’t actually dig it out myself.But I have several more Viburnum tinus to remove not to mention countless Mahonias.I think Anna (see a previous comment) and her camper van would be useful people to know.