July Blues.

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.

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37 Responses to July Blues.

  1. Jane Strong says:

    Regarding the Vita quote and your comment that follows: I didn’t know that others felt that way, too. After touring my garden just now (early morning here) and seeing all the crumpled yellow-brown leaves, i felt very discouraged, but after reading your post, not so much.
    Odd to see a “fried egg plant” or “Matilija (ma-till-ee-hah) poppy” growing so well in an English garden. It is a difficult garden plant even here. It grows naturally on very dry, sunny hillsides with no summer water.

  2. sueturner31 says:

    Beautifully put…..the freshness has gone ….but we have so much more to look forward too…..your lilies are stunning especially the turks cap….

  3. Pauline says:

    What a lot of really beautiful flowers, love your Dahlia seedling, so unusual, also your Martagon Lily, I have just the one and it seems to be struggling. Here, the Hemerocallis take over while the roses are gathering their strength for a second flush, they make splashes of colour in a few of the beds for a good month along with Crocosmia. I must deadhead my roses too, then the rose garden will look a lot neater.

    • Chloris says:

      I think it was all the brown dead heads on the roses that looked so depressing. The garden looks much better now, even if I did, in an absent – minded moment cut off the ones I wanted to save for seed.
      I am thrilled with the Dahlia, it really is a gorgeous colour.

  4. Cathy says:

    That quote is great, especially the ‘everything has lost that adolescent look, that look of astonishment at its own youth. The middle aged spread has begun.’ bit – such an accurate desription. Thanks for showing us all your July blooms (and barely a daisy flower among them – I am with you on them!) – and for the reciprocal mention. You have got lots of lovelies – the Turk’s cap lily in particular is stunning – despite your lack of rain. We had some yesterday for which the garden is very grateful. I was interested to see your diascia – I got some of what Hayloft call sundiascia (which may be a ‘brand’ rather than a variety) last year, which I had in baskets but replanted them in the borders in the autumn. This year, instead of trailing they are growing UP and with well filled stems like your diascia, so I wonder if they are related? Not as tall as yours, perhaps about 18″ max, but they flower and flower so perhaps I will look for another colour too. And I will look out for C Elizabeth as when I have tried before it hasn’t lasted but being successful with Sarastro it’s worth another go. Wish my Loddon Royalist had done as well as yours though…. 😦

    • Chloris says:

      I didn’ t know Anchusa was tricky. It is a gorgeous shade of blue.
      Unlike other Diascias thiis particular one is supposed to be reasonably hardy although last winter wasn’ t a fair trial. It is really tall and bushy and makes quite a show. I’ m trying to strike some cuttings but every shoot has flowers and they all seem to be hollow so I don’ t know if it will work. It is Diascia personata ‘ Hopleys’.

  5. rusty duck says:

    So much colour.. what’s not to love?
    I only realised recently that Lilium martagon is a woodlander. Knowing that I shall be stocking up. Yours is beautiful, my one and only has buds but has not opened yet. Today I have boldly planted Campanula takesimana in the full knowledge that the slugs were lounging in their shady hidey holes, watching and just waiting for me to finish. I love it so much it’s worth yet another go. They won’t get it without a fight.

  6. pbmgarden says:

    I love both of your red lilies, splendid coloring on both. And I like the pairing of ‘Night Flyer’ with the Monk’s Hood. Is Monk’s Hood difficult to get started? I have been given small transplants twice but they never took. Glad you got a bit of rain. The Vita quote states so well how I feel about my garden–the freshness of the plants in their youth has definitely worn off and with no rain, it’s hard for me to enjoy mine this time of year.

    • Chloris says:

      I have had Aconitums that I couldn’t get going, particularly the pale blue’ Stainless Steel’. I can’ t remember which one this is but it is a lovely shade of deep blue and comes back each year.

  7. Cathy says:

    I have never seen such a tall Diascia, nor a hardy one. It’s wonderful! The lily is also a beauty. I am rather envious of your Dierama. it is simply too hot and dry in my garden and I have tried seedlings in several positions without any luck. Your campanulas make a great show… my tall ones are almost over now, but my Eryngium has yet to show any colour. There is so much to look at in your July garden Chloris, so many colours and lovely combinations. Enjoy it all and don’t be sad!

  8. Chloris says:

    I do enjoy it Cathy, but it is always a bit sad when the year passes its half way mark. The early part of the year has so much magic and so much promise.

  9. Julie says:

    I know just how you feel, and this year the mild winter, early start to spring and its July already….I do not want to look forward to Rudbeckias just yet. It sounds exciting though to be cross pollinating and breeding new roses, I hope you do succeed in the future.

    • Chloris says:

      I have done rose growing from seed in the past and it is time consuming. Sometimes they take a year or two to germinate. I have only succeeded in getting a couple of white ramblers so far after all my efforts. Now I will have to start again as I have snipped all the heads off.
      I agree I don’ t feel ready for rudbeckias and all the daisy brigade yet. Nice as they are.

  10. Kris P says:

    There’s a lot to love in your garden, Chloris. The mix of reds and blues must certainly stir your heart? However, I know what you mean by the disillusionment that can set in after the fresh bloom of spring is gone. I feel it most strongly when the Agapanthus fade – one moment they’re holding their heads up en masse with the triumph of conquering garden heroes and then, suddenly, they look like worn-out mop-heads. While some people like to leave the spent stalks in place, I prefer to cut them down so they don’t distract from the blooms that glory in the heat. Smaller in number, there’s still a lot to appreciate.

    • Chloris says:

      I love your image of Agapanthus heads like conquering garden heroes turning to mop heads Kris. Mine are still in bud so it is a treat to come. I keep their seed heads because they are so easy from seed and you do get some lovely variations in their offspring.

  11. I love your California tree poppy, such great texture with the gold and white. I guess I don’t experience July in the same way, possibly because there are so many prairie plants which come into their own during this month.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes the prairie plants come into their own in July and August. But I always feel that they are better suited to American gardens than an English country, cottage garden.

  12. Annette says:

    No reason to despair, dear Chloris, a well planned garden (and yours is) has always something to please the heart. That red lily is gorgeous and the Diascia too, so tall and elegant. Lily beetles are a problem for me though and I don’t like squashing them. My Eremurus didn’t flower that well this year and just made leaves. I have two different Dieramas and they’re biding their time in a huge container until I have the courage to plant them out. Does it get very cold where you are?

    • Chloris says:

      I have terrible lily beetle problems too. It is a daily task squashing them. Revolting I know but not as bad as letting them get to the larval stage which is unspeakable It does get cold here in winter, although not last winter..but Dierama are hardy in a well drained soil.

  13. Alain says:

    Beautiful pictures Chloris. You have a nice collection of lilies and there is still some freshness in your garden – you just have to look at your Romneya coulteri.
    Here Campanula takesimana is a thug. I finally decided to get rid of it last year and I see that it is back somewhere else in the garden (I will keep it this time, we will see what happens next year. Perhaps ‘Elizabeth’ is better behaved!

  14. Chloris says:

    I know there is still plenty to enjoy Alain, but in July the summer is no longer young and fresh and heady with excitement.
    All the Campanulas are spreaders but I do love them.

  15. Christina says:

    So many very beautiful blooms, there is certainly no excuse to feel depressed. Vita’s quote made me feel better too; I need to get busy and dead-head to tidy up too. The lily is stunning in form and colour, I’ll have to look out for it.

    • Chloris says:

      I know, once it is tidied up a bit and after a lovely, much needed rain it is all looking quite good again. I thoroughly recommend lily ‘ Night Flyer’. It’ s gorgeous.

  16. bittster says:

    I gave the garden a good once over last week and that bit of activity followed by a good summer rain has freshened things up considerably. My slump happens just before the roses begin. Once the tulips and iris are over I feel like the long anticipation for a perfect spring is gone and all the tragedies and drought from last year have returned. I plant tropicals and their lush explosion if growth will take me through the hottest, driest days! -that and trips to the beach and days at the pool 🙂
    Love the dahlia too!

  17. Chloris says:

    It is amazing what a bit of rain and some dead heading will do. But you are right, a lot of the excitement in gardening comes from anticipation. My father used to grow lots of beautiful bulbs and would prowl round daily watching them emerge. Once they were in bloom he would totally lose interest in them. That is a bit weird, but he used to say the pleasure was all in the anticipation. Once they were in bloom there was no more excitement.

  18. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable post and a lovely selection of pictures. I certainly get a touch of the summertime blues as I don’t like it hot, nor humid and here when it is the air quality becomes poor as well. I suppose that the resulting lethargy doesn’t help to maintain my plotting and I do lose interest to a certain extent. xx

    • Chloris says:

      Oh dear the weather is never quite right. We’ ve had some rain now which is great but we could have done without the damaging winds and I wish it would’ t stay quite so gloomy. It would be nice to see the sun again.

  19. hoehoegrow says:

    Chloris, I share your pain! I thought I was alone (and slightly odd!) in mourning the end of June, and the beginning of the ‘middle age spread’! That wonderful woos of freshness has subsided now, and the geraniums are getting leggy and sprawly and the roses have finished the first flush. Nothing is exciting as the first flush of the roses. I know there are loads of reasons to be cheerful, but the excitement has lost its edge!

    • Chloris says:

      Great to find someone who feels the same way. A lot of people didn’ t seem to get what I meant. As we still have lots of lovely summer flowers what is there to complain about? The flowers in bloom now are lovely and I have lots of colour but they are not as exciting as in the heady days of early June.

  20. solarbeez says:

    I never knew Scabious was wine colored. We’ve only grown the blue ones…the bees and butterflies love it. I love it because it’s easy to shoot video of them crawling around on it.

  21. Chloris says:

    Scabiosa caucasica has the familiar blue flowers but Scabiosa atropurpurea comes in gorgeous rich colours. I particularly love ‘Beaujolais Bonnets’ or ‘ Chile Black’. I have noticed that bees and butterflies love them.

  22. I love your front garden, it has a wonderfully relaxed feel and so much colour. Funnily enough it has always been early to mid summer that my gardens tend to lack colour, I go nuts for spring and love the late summer flowering perennials. I’m only just now getting the hang of early summer! I do always get a pang when the leaves on the trees turn that dull darker green though.

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