The best of the year has arrived, its crowning glory. Now at last, it is the time for the floral aristocrats; roses and irises, poppies and peonies. These flowers look as if they are cut out of rich fabrics; silks, taffeta and velvet. The garden is spangled with opulent colours and exquisite scents. ‘Karlsruhe’ is a climbing rose from the 50s, but it has an old-fashioned look and healthy foliage. It looks lovely against the dark foliage of a yew tree.
Every self-respecting tudor house has to have roses growing up the walls.
Down the garden by the big pond, ‘Teasing Georgia’ seems unconcerned by the shade of the huge weeping willow. She has gorgeous, rich yellow flowers.
When we arrived here the garden had several straggly roses which I nearly removed. Instead I pruned and fed them and now they look very pretty. I planted some tall Aconitum napellus by this one.
This one is not a colour I would have chosen, but it looks lovely with Stipa gigantea shimmering in front of it.
I am not sure which this next one is but I am glad I kept it. I love single roses and it always starts blooming early.
Nearby is the dear little buttonhole rose ‘Perle d’Or’.
I love the deep apricot colour of Grace’.
‘ Evelyn’ is a similar apricot shade but not as beautiful, or as graceful as Grace.
Another David Austin rose, ‘Anne Boleyn’ is healthy and will certainly stay, I have no intention of chopping her head off.
The China rose Rosa mutabilis is one of my favourites, its flowers look like flights of butterflies.
I love single roses and a great favourite is the Burma rose, Rosa laevigata cooperi. It is a climbing rose with huge white flowers and glossy green leaves. I used to grow it against a black shed which looked wonderful. Now it has to content itself with a wall and a greengage tree. It grows very quickly, mine is only a six year old cutting.
The idea of a blue rose is horrible and I don’t know why ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ has such an off-putting name. Of course it is not blue, it is a lovely faded, antiquey , slatey mauve and I love it. I have a friend who hates it, I am sure she would like it if she didn’t think it was pretending to be blue.
Summer took us by surprise here in Suffolk. Last week Scotland and the West Country greedily hogged all the available sunshine and left us with wind, rain and chilly days. In my village, gardeners were wrapped up in their fleeces and sou’westers and bravely working until dusk to get ready for the Gardens Open Day on Sunday. Tired and battle-weary, but triumphant, on the big day we basked in the sun and the kind compliments of visitors. This week with sunny weather every day and everything looking great, for a brief moment, we can laze in the sun, drinking in the scent of roses, philadelphus and honeysuckle. The bees are humming and the young sparrows are quarelling in the bushes. The sounds of June fill the air. Heaven.
The weather is perfect and for a brief moment we can be idle. Hector is being a little over-cautious and worried about catching a chill.
Or maybe he is sulking because nobody will play with him.
June means peonies and although I love single flowers, I love the extravagance of petals on the overblown double peonies, they are so heavy that they can barely hold their heads up. They remind me of women with far too much make up and over back-combed, puffed up, eighties hairstyles. A touch of the Dolly Partons. But they are so lovely that they make me smile.
Every old garden seems to have an old Peonia officionalis ‘Rubra plena’, it is not as glamorous as modern hybrids, but still earns its place.
I love the singles even more and I wish I knew what this little darling is. I don’t remember planting it and have no idea where it came from.
It grows happily in the shade with the ubiquitous little Welsh poppy, Meconopsis cambrica.
My son gave me a beautiful tree peony some years ago and I dug it up to bring it with me. Peonies resent being dug up and it died. But it had been grafted and to my delight this lovely single peony grew from the base. I love it.
Oriental poppies loll about langourously, but they are so beautiful that I don’t mind. I feel one should provide a chaise-longue for them, rather than rudely corralling them with stakes. When’Patty’s Plum’ first opens, the petals look like crushed tissue paper.
The rose next to Patty is ‘Pearl Drift’ which was a gift from a dear friend.
I aalso grow Papaver ‘Beauty of Livermere’ which is a bright red and is difficult to place. But I have a sentimental attachment to it as my father always grew it. It is fine to stake this and make it stand to attention as it looks rather martial in its scarlet jacket.
New bearded irises are opening each day and I love them and can never get enough of them. I have friends who dislike the newer hybrids in their extravagant fancy dress and all their frills and frolls, like bridesmaids at a big, fat gypsy wedding. They come in the most wonderful rainbow colours. I have a friend who always asks me anxiously if her new plant acquisitions are vulgar. She must think that I am the most appalling plant snob. For her birthday I bought her Iris ‘Carnaby’ which is peach, orange and raspberry. I told her it is gloriously vulgar, but gorgeous. I hope she enjoys it. Next year I will be cadging a bit of it. I have many irises that I don’t know the name of but I enjoy for their glorious colours.
I live near Sarah Cook who has the national collection of Cedric Morris irises and of course I have some of these more refined beauties. The owner of my previous garden was a great friend of Sir Cedric and I have quite a few irises that were given to him. I will write a post about Cedric Morris irises another time. In the meantime here is one of them,’ Benton Sheila’.
To enjoy June days to the maximum we have to have fragrance and I have philadelphus in every corner. This is the bush near the path to my two greenhouses. The far greenhouse is quite large and timber, but very old and held together mainly by will power and probably duct tape, as the Pianist has done a few repair jobs.
This golden-leaved one by the gate was pruned into a better shape last year and has fewer blooms. But still it smells divine.
Of course, there are better designed gardens than mine, better maintained and with better grown plants. Gardens with beautiful velvety lawns and exquisitely cut hedges and topiary. Gardens with lakes and rills and wonderful sculptures. But on a June day like today, I don’t envy anyone else their gardens. Mine is heaven to me and I don’t want to be anywhere else, but right here in my own Eden.