Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden shares my sadness at the loss of her glorious June roses. Even at Sissinghurst Vita felt the same sort of disappointment that I do now that July is here:
‘ There are some moments when I feel pleased with my garden, and other moments when I despair. The pleased moments usually happen in spring, and last up to the middle of June. By that time all the freshness has gone off; everything has become heavy; everything has lost that adolescent look, that look of astonishment at its own youth. The middle aged spread has begun.’ Vita Sackville West.
I would say that the freshness lasts until the end of June. It’s not that there is no colour in the garden in July; there is plenty, but somehow it is just not as exciting. Everything seems to have middle age spread. As the month goes on daisy type flowers take over- they are pretty but not exactly heart- stopping.
It doesn’ t help that we had no rain for ages and it has been quite hot the last couple of days. The plants have let themselves go. Dead heading helps though and this morning we did get a bit of rain so I have been out tidying up and trying to find reasons to love the July garden. Once the depressing brown heads are chopped off the roses they look better. Unfortunately, I did a bit of cross pollinating in June to see if I could breed some beautiful new roses. I marked them with coloured wool after carefully noting them in my notebook. Whoops, I have merrily chopped all their heads off. But at least they look tidier. Peonies, aquilegias and Sisyrinchium striatum all look much better with a short back and sides. Everything looks less middle aged and tired now and I realise that there is lots of colour but is there anything to get excited about? Anything special? Well, how about a lily? My favourite at the moment is the dazzling, deep red, almost black ‘ Night Flyer’. It is so sumptuous and it comes back each year unlike some lilies which peter out. If I could only have one lily in the garden this would be the one I would choose.
So yes, I do get excited about lilies and there are more to come. I can’t remember the name of this red one which I have had for ages and it comes back each year to surprise me. it’s not as gorgeous as ‘Night flyer’ but nevertheless it is a pretty shade of red.
The Turk’ s Cap lily: Lilium martagon is a beautiful woodlander which also lasts for years and gradually spreads. It shines out like a beacon under the trees. My father always had it in his garden and this is where mine came from.
Another stunning plant in bloom at the moment is a gorgeous Diascia personata which I bought at Hampton Court Flower Show last year. Unlike Diascia rigiscens which dies every winter this has survived and is magnificent. It is huge; 3 foot tall and I think it looks wonderful with its neighbour Stipa gigantea. Next year I hope to have this plant all the way down the border if I can get cuttings to take.
Further down the garden there is a different colour scheme; we go from the amber coloured Eremurus to the brightly coloured orange Kniphofias which are not exactly subtle but pastel shades get a bit washed out under a July sun.
I can’t get excited about a Kniphofia, indeed I have only recently allowed them into the garden. But I am very excited about this Dahlia which I grew from a ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ seed It has a lovely stripe down the petal and is a gorgeous colour.
There are still lovely plants in the front garden. I didn’t get round to showing you what it looked like in June, when (at the risk of sounding like Ruth Draper in her monolgue: The Garden), I have to say it was at its best. It doesn’t have so much shape and form now and although there is plenty of colour, it looks a bit like coloured hay. Still it is a cottage garden.
I have lots of campanulas which I love. Campanula takesimana ‘Elizabeth’ spreads nicely and looks good with its neighbours a pink Astrantia and Salvia x sylvestris ‘May Queen’.
Scabious is also a useful plant in the front garden because it seeds around and I love its wine coloured flowers.
I had forgotten that I had planted this delightful garlic relation Tulbaghia violacea with its starry, lilac flowers. I think it is pretty with the Penstemon.
Another star of the front garden is the Angel’s Fishing Rod; Dierama pulcherrimum. it is very easy from seed and flowers in its second year.
The real star of the front garden though is this Romneya coulteri or Californian Tree Poppy . I have tried it before and it has dwindled away. I know that if it is happy it will romp away. This is its second year so perhaps it will stay around this time.
I am also delighted with the plants I bought in Crug in May. I love Campanulas and any bell shaped flower. This Campanula relation Adenophora remotifolia BSWJ11016 comes from Japan. You always know that if a plant has a collection number rather than a name it will be expensive.
In fact all the Campanulas are nodding their pretty bell heads. I love them all. And as I have called this post ‘July Blues’ I shall finish with some blue flowers, my favourite colour in the garden. This is the tall Campanula lactiflora ‘ Pritchard’s Variety’.
On a smaller scale I have the dainty little Campanula carpatica edging the path.
And the metallic blue stars of Eryngium ‘Picos Amethyst’.
Or the sinister dark blue flowers of the deadly poisonous Aconitum napellus growing with the lovely blue flowers of Anchusa azurea ‘Loddon Royalist’..
So really, as Cathy pointed out, there is still so much to enjoy in July; I haven’t even mentioned any of the late flowering Clematis that are looking so wonderful at the moment. They will have to be for another day. I will finish with another look at lovely Lilium ‘Night Flyer’ growing with the Monk’s hood and Veronica spicata.