Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty.

I am a bit late with my Top Ten September blooms, in fact I haven’t been here to see what was in bloom for most of the month. The flowers I have seen are quite unlike the ones in my garden.

I have been in the deep Mani area in the south Peloponnese. Here there are villages of tall, medieval tower houses where people fought bitter feuds with their neighbours. Even today it feels very remote and some days we met more goats than people.

We stayed in Stoupa in the shadow of the Taygetos mountains where Nikos Kazantzankis wrote Zorba the Greek based on a real local character. It was transposed to Crete in the film. But here is where the real Zorba lived.

We went up the mountain to the magical site of Mystras, the ancient Byzantine capital. We bought our tickets from a beautiful boy with soulful eyes with the face of a Byzantine saint.


We spent the night in the mountains overlooking Sparta. All round the Peloponnese in this ancient landscape you follow in the traces of legends and ancient history. Sparta is where the beautiful Helen was stolen away from Menelaus by Paris and this is what started the Trojan war. In the fifth century  Leonidas, the Spartan king led an army of 300 hoplites to fight the Persians at the battle of Thermopylae

Moon over Sparta.

We went to Cape Tenaron, the southernmost point of mainland Greece where Homer tells us the entrance to Hades  is guarded by Cerberus, the three- headed dog. We didn’t find the entrance to the Underworld but there is a temple to the sea god, Poseidon.

We went to down to cape Malea where Odysseus and his men were blown off course and landed on the island of the lotus- eaters. Maybe they landed on the nearby beautiful and lonely island of Elafonisos surrounded by turquoise waters and the most beautiful sandy beach I have ever seen.

‘All around the coast the languid air did swoon’. The Lotus Eaters. Alfred Tennyson

There were strange swimming companions.

And then we finished up on the medieval castle town of Monemvasia which is built on a rock sitting in the Myrtoan Sea.

It is a magical place at any time but especially when the sun has just risen.

Not much grows on this rock.

Coming home after spending most of September in Greece makes me realise how lucky we are with the sheer range and abundance of plants we can grow here. Although summer is over there is still so much to enjoy in the garden..

I am sorry to be late with my Top Ten September blooms but I shall do the post very soon. and then I shall enjoy reading about other September gardens and catching up with my blogging friends.

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

The Jetty Garden by Night

From time to time I post about the amazing jetty garden my river-dwelling son, Bertie and his adorable Beatrice have created.  The 26th August, Bank Holiday Monday was a gloriously warm and sunny day and we were looking forward to a barbecue on the jetty which looks more amazing every year.  You approach it down a passage with shelves decorated with found objects.  There are portholes to give you glimpses of the river.

The jetty has been cleverly divided into rooms by walls of plants.

There is a dining area.

And the chef has wonderful river views as he barbecues.

Here is the relaxing area and what better to relax in than a hammock?

Everything is so healthy and well grown. I have never seen hostas like this with no slug damage and what on earth does Bertie feed them on? He waters each evening and painstakingly pulls off every slug and snail and throws them into the river. Being an animal lover he feels guilty about this. But you can’t be a gardener without the odd bit of slaughter. To make up for all the mollusc massacre Bertie and Beatrice lavish affection on the pigeon nesting in the garden.

There are not just massive hostas but just look at the size of this  Japanese forest grass Hakonechloa macra.

Hakonechloa macra

And I would like to know how he gets Hydrangea paniculata to look as good as this. The lovely silvery willow behind the hydrangea is Salix exigua.

There is a forest of tree ferns.

The palette is mostly green but with  punctuation marks of colour here and there.

As the day light began to fade twinkly lights came on, each with its own homemade shade.

The early evening light was beautiful.

And the sunset over the river was dramatic.

When it was properly dark the jetty was transformed into fairyland.

Thank you darling Boaties for a magical evening in your own personal Paradise.

Posted in Uncategorized | 39 Comments

Top Ten August Blooms.

The August garden sags a bit. My plants look as if they have spent too long at a cocktail party and they are having trouble staying upright. They loll about, leaning on each other and they have all taken their corsets off and let their hair down. I am constantly running round with drinks of water and trying to tidy them up with string, stakes and secateurs. They are probably singing bawdy songs and behaving improperly when I’m not looking. But I shouldn’t complain as there are plenty of blooms to enjoy.

Just like last month and next month, my number one bloom is the dahlia but I shall leave it off the list today because I want to feature my exotic garden in a future post. So I shall start with glorious agapanthus. They are all huge headed and grown from seed, I grow them on my beach round the shed.

I have so many new plants coming on from seed that I shall have to think of new ways of displaying them. Maybe I will line them up either side of the garden path in the front garden. I have them in shades of blue and white.

They are beginning to go over now but they have been looking good for weeks. This next one is growing a new flower on top of the old.

Most people love umbellifers and I have a shrubby Bupleurum fruticosum which blooms for weeks with yellow flowers which are always covered in insects. The foliage is blue-green and leathery, a bit like an olive tree. This shrub comes from the Mediterranean so it needs a sunny spot. It looks good with blue agapanthus or feathery, blue Perovskia atriplicifolia. So far I haven’t managed to strike any cuttings but I keep trying.

Bupleurum fruticosum

Every year I write about  the gorgeous hollyhock which isn’t quite a hollyhock, xAlcalthea suffrutescens ‘Parkallee’ which I adore for its lovely , pale coffee cream coloured blooms with ruffled curly centres and lilac anthers. The flowers are sterile so they bloom for weeks.  They get bigger every year and need to be firmly staked. They have lovely healthy blue green leaves with not a trace of rust.  I have written about its history here so I won’t go into it again.

x Alcalthaea suffrutescens ‘Parkallee’

xAlcalthaea suffrutescens ‘Parkallee’

This year I thought I would try seeds of  an ordinary hollyhock, Alcea ‘Creme de Cassis’ and it has terrible rust so next year it will probably have to go, although it is pretty.

Alcea ‘Creme de Cassis’

My Solanum Creche ar Pape’ is fabulous and sprawling all over the fence with its white flowers delicately shaded with lilac. It is so much prettier than the earlier flowering Solanum crispum which looks like what it is- a potato plant. Some nurseries try to make the name more grammatical by calling it ‘Creche du Pape’ but it comes from a garden in Brittany called Creche ar Pape’. You see it a lot in France.

Solanum laxum ‘Creche ar Pape’

August is hydrangea time but Suffolk is a bit too dry for them to do really well. I never used to like them much because they reminded me of seaside bungalows.  So I don’t really grow them. But I fell in love with beautiful Hydrangea ‘Ayesha’ when I found it growing in my previous garden. It has beautiful flowerheads with incurved petals and it is slightly fragrant. Hydrangeas are easy from cuttings so it came with here  me. I also brought the oak leaved ‘Hydrangea quercifolia and Hydrangea villosa. Well, they didn’t cost me anything.

Hydrangea  macrophylla ‘Ayesha’

And then a few years ago my son bought me a nice  blue and white striped hydrangea in a pot which I planted out when it had finished flowering . It is pink now as I don’t have an acid soil but it looks lovely with Persicaria amplexicaulis.

And then I thought I would like the snow white Hydrangea ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ so I have that too. Only it is not snow white, is is decidedly pink. Perhaps it was wrongly labelled.

Hydrangea ‘Madame Emile Mouliliere’

And then who can resist the enormous white heads of Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’? Not me.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

And I have to admit there are some lovely new Hydrangea paniculata hybrids. ‘Pinky Winky’ is my guilty secret. A plant with a name like that has to be hidden away. It’s hiding behind a rather lush Forest Pansy. Maybe with a bit more water it wouldn’t look more  wishy -washy  than ‘Pinky Winky’.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’

So it seems that without really meaning to I do have some hydrangeas but they don’t grow big and lush like they do in Cornwall.

I can never make up my mind about Hibiscus syriacus. It is so late coming into leaf that each spring I wonder if it is dead. But then in August it is covered in such beautiful flowers that you forgive it. Mine was a gift many years ago  from Ivan Dickens who used to be the chief propagator for Notcutts Nursery. I can’t remember if he named it. I love its lilac flowers with red centres.

Hibiscus syriacus

People warn about the terrible thuggish  suckering of Clerondendron bungeii but I think it needs damper soil than I can provide to roam as it doesn’t spread much in my garden. It has heart shaped leaves which smell a bit foxy but  they are quite attractive. I have a variegated one called ‘Pink Diamond’ which is very pretty. The clusters of flowers are very showy and sweet scented.

Clerodendron bungei ‘Pink Diamond’

Modern echinacea hybrids come in some edible colours and I have wasted money on quite a few irresistible ones in recent years but they never survive the winter,  so now I content myself with  pink Echinacea purpurea which is pretty enough. It looks wonderful growing with grasses. In fact it looks wonderful anywhere and it seeds about so I have it all the way down the border.

Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’

Ok, yet again I have been tempted by a couple of new ones. ‘Fatal Attraction’ was bred by Piet Oudolf so I am hoping it will be more reliable than some of the transient beauties which have tempted me in the past.

Echinacea ‘Fatal Attraction’

I also bought Echinacea ‘Sensation Pink’ which is rather pretty too.

Echinacea ‘Sensation Pink’

I can never resist daisy flowers and now we have the first Michaelmas Daisies in bloom. And of course we have to remember to call some of them Symphiotrichum  and some of them asters and others something entirely different. This is my first one in bloom and I can’t remember its name. I think it could be Aster frikartii ‘Wunder von Strafe’.

Aster xfrikartii ‘Wunder von Strafe’?

Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ is just coming out and it goes on blooming for weeks. Beth Chatto thought it was the very best aster and I tend to agree. And it doesn’t need staking like many asters do.

Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’

And now for something completely different. I just love the bell shaped flowers of codonopsis. I have the rare white Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himel Snow’ which blooms in July.

Codonopsis grey-wilsonii ‘Himel Snow’

This year I am enjoying the large flowers of Codonopsis lanceleolata growing up a tripod of sticks in my gravel garden. I can’t remember where I got it from, I have a feeling it may have been a gift from a blogging friend, if so, thank you to whoever it was and sorry for being so ungrateful as to forget who gave it to me. It has exotic looking bell shaped flowers which are lined with purple. They look like pixie caps.

Codonopsis lanceolata

These are my ten but I have left out so many other beauties so here is a gallery of a few of the omissions. Do join me and link up with your Top Ten August Blooms.

Posted in Uncategorized | 42 Comments

In a Vase on Monday. Hello Possums!

This week I am channelling Dame Edna with a vase of gladdies. I have  only grown the dainty dwarf ones before because the big ones are too stiff and gawky for the flowerbed and let’s be honest they are really a bit naff, specially the giant ones. But I bought a few really cheap packets of corms at the supermarket for the cutting bed.  And I really like them in a vase. This one is called Gladiolus ‘Fiorentina’. I picked all these flowers and there are plenty of buds to come.

The roses are not from the garden, they were a gift from my lovely friend, Kitty. I rarely buy flowers so it is a treat to receive a gift like this. These roses have been in a vase for over a week and they are still fresh and beautiful. I pulled off the withered leaves and new leaves are growing.  Shop-bought roses usually remind me of furled up umbrellas but these are really pretty. No scent but still lovely. I am going to try and strike a cutting from one of them.

On the table I have my flower brick with mostly white and blue flowers.

The white flowers are Achillea ptarmica. I am not a great fan of achilleas but this one is very useful for flower arranging. It flops around in the garden but I leave it in a corner of the garden for picking. It is a bit like gypsophila but with bigger flowers.

The foliage is from Pittospermum tenufolium ”Elizabeth’. I  used two blue flowers, the pale blue is the’Ugly-nose Salvia ulignosa and the fluffy one is the perennial tall growing Ageratum corymbosum. Actually it is not perennial in the garden because it can’t take frost but it is easy from cuttings. There is a bit of purple Agastache ‘Black Adder’ and pink spikes of Persicaria amplexicaulis. The fluffy heads are from Pennisetum villosum.

Thank you Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for encouraging bloggers to put flowers in a Vase on Monday. Do go and see how creative so many bloggers are with arrangements of flowers from their gardens.

Posted in Uncategorized | 37 Comments

Six on Saturday. Pretty in Pots.

I don’t seem to have had much blogging time lately so Six on Saturday seems like a good way to have a quick hello. Like all gardeners, by the middle of August I seem to have an unreasonable number of plants in pots all needing attention.  So here is a random selection of six plants in pots looking good at the moment. Let’s start with a couple of ‘easy from seed’ plants.

Number one is Rhodochiton atrosanguineus, the Purple Bell climber. This used to be known as Rhodochiton volubile but it seems to have suffered a name change. It has a profusion of pale purple bells with a dark purple, dangling corolla. It is not hardy but it is a perennial if kept frost free.  I have found it to be a martyr to white fly in winter so I grow fresh each year. The dark corollas drop off leaving the pale bell- shaped calyx which persists for weeks.  After fertilisation the seed cases inside grow and eventually when the seeds are ripe the cases look like little round bottoms. The time to sow them is in the autumn when the seeds are fresh, they don’t stay viable very long in my experience. If fresh, they germinate readily. Next year I shall try them climbing up the eucalyptus in the exotic garden.

Rhodochiton atrosanguineum

Rhodochiton atrosanguineus

Number two is another easy climber from seed, Tweedia caerula which is named after James Tweedie from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh who collected it in South America in the Nineteenth century. I love it for its gorgeous blue flowers, not exactly sky-bue but tinged with turquoise. The little central button is even darker. It is a member of the Milkweed family and it has the same long seedpods. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with Monarch butterflies but it always seems to be crawling with insects.

Tweedia caerula

Every year I add to my eucomis collection and when I have enjoyed them in pots I plant them in the exotic garden. They always come through the winter as long as they have a nice mulch. This year I have Eucomis ‘Aloha Nani’ The ‘Aloha’ hybrids were bred in America for the pot plant trade and as they are nice and compact they are excellent for pots.

Eucomis ‘Aloha Nani’

Eucomis vandermerwei is even more compact and has attractive, wavy,  dark green leaves heavily spotted in black.

Eucomis vandermerwei

I seem to have amassed a large collection of pelargoniums without quite meaning to, so that takes care of my number four. My favourites are the delicate red ”Ardens’ which is a pernickety thing which suffers from sudden death and is difficult to strike from cuttings. I also love the species Pelargonium sidiodes for its silvery leaves and delicate purple flowers.

Pelargonium sidoides


Pelargonium sidoides

So as a lover of simple single flowers it is odd that I should be very fond of a double one, Pelargonium ‘Appleblossom Rosebud’. But this is not some new Frankenstein- hybrid, it dates from the early Nineteenth century and Queen Victoria was very fond of it. I can see why, there is something very endearing about it. But it needs to be staked or it flops.

Pelargonium ‘Appleblossom Rosebud’

Number five also has a double flower  and it is a begonia so I should hate it really as I am allergic to those big double blowsy begonias in dayglo colours you see in hanging baskets. But since I have my exotic garden I grow several begonias with interesting leaves.  This one is in a pot though, it is a delicate little thing and a lovely soft pink with bronze leaves.

Begonia semperflorens ‘Lady Francis’

I grow bulbs of the rain Lily, Habranthus robustus in pots because it is not really hardy here. Having said that I may try some outside next year, you never know, they may survive with a bit of mulch.

Habranthus robustus

So, there we have it, I managed my Six on Saturday. Pop over to the Propagator and you will find dedicated SOSers who mark the passing seasons with a weekly six from the garden.  Please join me on the 23rd with your Top Ten August Blooms. In the mean time I have some catching up to do.

Posted in Uncategorized | 55 Comments

New Dahlias.

I grew seed from just four dahlias this year and I have about 100 plants. I was going to give lots away but first I had to wait and see what the flowers looked like. In the end I planted all of them because they are all lovely. I had to dig up yet more lawn to accommodate them.

Here are the mother plants. The single ones were of course magnets for pollinators and produced the most seeds.

‘Honka Fragile’  gave its star shape to many of its children.

Dahlia ‘Honka Fragile’

‘Honka Red’ gave its star shape and also its bright red colour to its children.

Dahlia ‘Honka Red’

The velvety collarette Dahlia ‘Night Butterfly’ passed on its dark colour and white ruff.

Dahlia ‘Night Butterfly’

And then ‘Waltzing Mathilda’ bequeathed her bronze leaves, lovely shape and coral colour to her children. And of course the bees had been busy so there were plenty of surprises.

Dahlia ‘Waltzing Mathilda’

Here are just a few of my beauties. You can see why I haven’t given any away. They are all different and all gorgeous. I shall try seeds from some different ones next year and then I really will have to give some away.

If you haven’t tried growing dahlias from seed, it’s worth a try. It’s very easy and they bloom in their first year. And each one will be unique.

Posted in Uncategorized | 71 Comments

Top Ten July Blooms.

I have been AWL from the blogging world. My sunflower header perhaps gives a clue to where I’ve been. We have been cycling in La Belle France. First a magical island, L’Ile d’Oleron and then Burgundy.

Whilst we were away the garden has grown a bit wild and woolly.  But I always fall a bit out of love with it in late July, it seems to be suffering from middle- age spread and all the freshness has gone out of it. It just needs a bit of a tidy up and lots of dead heading and all will be well. And there are lots of lovely blooms to choose from. Dahlias are my number one but they will have their own post.

My first three are all deliciously fragrant. Coming in at number one is the lily. The first two lilies are finished now, they are early July bloomers. The first to bloom in my garden is the glorious Lilium candidum, the Madonna Lily with spikes of silky white trumpets. She is a pernickety lady. After flowering this plant goes dormant and then the rosettes of apple-green leaves grow in the winter. I read that at one time you could see huge beds of this lily growing in cottage gardens but that it is a rare sight now. It is very susceptible to disease. I keep my clump growing with lots of tender care, but only just.

Lilium candidum

Lilium regale blooms a bit later and has white trumpets backed with pink. It looks lovely with roses but it also grows well in a pot. It is the easiest and quickest to grow from seed and will bloom in two or three years, so you need never be without it.

Lilium regale

The next into bloom here is the dark and sultry ‘Night Rider’.  It is almost black and incredibly exotic.

Lilium ‘Night Rider’

I have several lilies in my secret garden. The first to flower is the lovely  white and yellow ‘Lady Alice’. This lily just gets better and better with age. She needs staking though.

Lilium ‘Lady Alice’

Of course, growing lilies means a constant battle with lily beetle and a daily disgusting squishing job. I don’t use chemicals so I have to rely on the finger and thumb. But I can’t and won’t have a lilyless garden.

Fragrance is an essential element of the summer garden and the Trachelospermum jasminoides growing on the wall by the French window is wonderful on a summer evening. I have a pink one too called ‘Pink Showers’ but it is not very big yet. Next to the trachelospermum on the table is a pot of fragrant Helioptropium  arborescens which the Victorians called ‘Cherry Pie’ because of its delicious scent.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Heliotropium arborescens

I also have several jasmines for fragrance but my favourite is the creamy-flowered  Jasmimum officinale ‘Clotted Cream’. It has larger flowers and is more strongly scented and floriferous than any of the others.

Jasmimum officinale ‘Clotted Cream’

For evening fragrance the annual  Zaluzianskia  capensis ‘Midnight Candy’ is unbeatable. I grow it in pots and move it into the house in the evening if we are sitting inside. It fills the whole house with fragrance. It has top notes of honey with maybe vanilla and a little citrus and perhaps a touch of coconut. The pretty star-like flowers close up during the day but the buds are round and pink.

Zaluzianskia capensis

If the July garden looks a bit flat then clematis can be relied on for an injection of colour. Cathy at Rambling in the Garden has forty varieties so her garden must be a wonderful sight in July. I particularly like the small flowered  viticella and texensis bybrids and they are particularly useful as they can be cut right down in late winter. Here are a few of my favourite July clematis.

Clematis viticella ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’


Clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’. Clematis ‘Tie Dye’

Clematis. Lost the label. Any suggestions?

Clematis viticella ‘Alba Luxuriens growing round Echinops ritro

Clematis viticella ‘Betty Corning’

Annual diascias come in a wonderful range of colours and I love them for pots. But best of all is the perennial Diascia personata. It comes from South Africa and is supposed to be a bit tender but I have never lost it to frost. Anyway it is incredibly easy from cuttings. It grows to a height of 3 feet and so it makes quite a statement.

Disacia personata

It has just occurred to me that it would look lovely with grasses.  I grow it in my gravel garden and unless it is staked it flops. Never mine it looks nice flopping into the Geranium ‘Azure Rush’.

Disacia personata with Geranium ‘Azure Rush’

Angel’s Fishing Rod, Dierama pulcherimum come in various sizes but I like the tall one as it makes a real statement. It is easy from seed and if it likes you it will seed around. It is a lovely sight swaying in the breeze. This is another plant from South Africa and it loves full sun.

Dierama pulcherrimum

I have mentioned before how much I love the little bells of campanulas and one of my favourites has to be one that is in bloom now. Campanula cochlearifoila ‘Elizabeth Oliver’ grows in my gravel garden where it makes mats covered in tiny double flowers in powder blue. It seeds around too so you can have more for pots.

Campanula cochlearifolia ‘Elizabeth Oliver’

Readers of my blog will know that I adore orchids. This year I bought a new hardy orchid which is a gorgeous new hybrid. It is called Calanthe takane and it likes a woodland position so it looks good with ferns. It like rich organic matter and a winter mulch.

Calanthe takane

It is always a joy when unexpected beauties turn up in the garden but to have an orchid hitching a ride on an unusual pine tree which I bought a few years ago is a particular treat. The seed must have been sitting there all this time. I think it is an Epipactis helleborine.

Epipactis helleborine

So there are my ten for this month. If you have time to pick out some of your July favourites to share it would be lovely. Now I think it is time to pour out a couple of glasses of wine and find my hammock, the Pianist is already out there. It’s time for our competitive crosswords and then when it is cooler a game of croquet.

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me these have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language‘ .This quote comes from Henry James; amazing that he confined himself to just two words; he is not known for using one word where several hundred will do . But I do agree with him. Summer evenings are magic too. I hope you are enjoying the heatwave. You really need a hammock and a shady tree to get the best out of it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

One Night Stand. ‘Queen of the Night’.

I have had a prickly Selinicereus grandiflorus for some years now. It grows long rats tails which snake everywhere and it gets very difficult to accommodate. It would look good climbing a tree or cascading over rocks but it has to live in my greenhouse annoying all the neighbouring plants. A bit of it has become attached to a nearby Epiphyllum and is now growing from it. I have been tempted to get rid of it because it takes up so much room and is not very attractive to look at. But a while ago I noticed a little furry wart growing on it. It got bigger each day and I realised that at last it was going to bloom. The prickly plant in the picture is the Selinocereus and the flat one behind it is an Epiphyllum.


I have several epiphyllums and they have large, showy flowers but I have never seen any flower as huge and gorgeous as as this before. ‘Queen of the Night’ is a good name for her. The flowers only bloom for one night and so each night I have been going into the greenhouse before I went to bed to make sure I didn’t miss it. This evening I knew it was the big night at last because the petals were showing at the top of the furry bud.

I brought it inside so I wouldn’t miss a moment. I even toyed with the idea of an impromptu party, my best frock and champagne. The bud opened so quickly that within two hours the huge flower was fully open. It is incredibly glamorous and exotic, rather like a giant sea urchin from the side. And the vanilla scent is richly tropical. The plant decks itself out in such gorgeous finery and perfume to attract moths to pollinate it.

Selinicereus grandiflorus ‘Queen of the Night’

Selinicereus grandiflorus ‘Queen of the Night’

It seems rude to go to bed and leave her alone in all her glory. So I have brought her upstairs and now I don’t want to turn the light out because I know that tomorrow she will have collapsed. All this glory for one night only and sadly there have been no moths to pollinate her. I will have to wait until next year for her next performance, and I really will have to arrange a party for her.

Posted in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

‘A Rose by any other name…’

I grumbled in my last post about roses that had been planted in my garden with silly names. Most of them had to go, along with all the gawky, scentless hybrid teas. But there are still lots of beautiful roses with no labels, and Shakespeare is right they smell as sweet as those with names. And yet… I cannot love them so much without knowing what to call them. All along the picket fence in the front garden there are healthy vigorous roses. I think they are Hybrid Musks called ‘Moonlight’ but I am not sure.

And  you see the little pink one, bottom right? It suckers and travels all over the front garden. If it finds a tall shrub it climbs. It is very pretty but what is it? I suspect a gallica, maybe ‘Gloire de France’ but I really need to know.

And look at this gorgeous rose which grows through a viburnum. I would love it so much more if I knew what to call it.

I have one Moss rose,  but I am not sure which. Moss roses are centifolias which have a moss-like growth on their sepals which makes their buds very attractive.  They first appeared as mutations in 1720. My favourite is ‘William Lobb’ which reminds me, I don’t have him here. I must find room for William. But meanwhile which is this one?

I think this next one is an alba as it has the typical healthy blue-green leaves. It looks like ‘Queen of Denmark’ to me. It grows tall so I give it a lobster pot support made of hazel twigs and tie it in horizontally.

I showed this one a few years ago and someone kindly identified it for me as ‘James Galway’  I love it because it is so full and frilly. It is a climber and grows into a holly. It is a David Austin rose and thank goodness the previous occupants of my garden discovered David Austin and I have quite a collection of these wonderful roses which I have added to over the years I have been here.

Rosa ‘James Galway’

Here are a few of my favourite David Austin roses.

I used to have a rose garden filled with old fashioned roses and I still grow some as they are unbeatable for scent and shape. Here are a few of them.

I love single roses too and the China rose, Rosa mutabilis blooms all summer long. Here it is with the tall spires of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’.

Rosa mutabilis

Another single rose which blooms all summer long and has lovely glossy leaves is ‘Sally Holmes’. I grow it next to the silvery foliage of Berberis temolaica. Sally is one  of the roses that I wouldn’t be without.

Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’

Because I love single roses I like the modern series of single roses with a dark centre with ‘eyes’ in the name. So I have ‘Smiling Eyes’ even thought I think it is silly name. But then it grows not far away from Hydrangea ‘Pinkie Winkie’ and you can’t get much sillier than that.

Rosa ‘Smiling Eyes’

And never mind silly names, the name ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is a black lie, it is not blue at all and anyway who wants a blue rose? But it is a lovely antiquey- lilac, a sort of faded purple and I love it.

Rosa ‘Rhapsody in Blue’

I grow it with Cistus ladanifer but maybe ‘Tuscany Superb’ would match the purple blotch better.

I could go on all day talking about roses but I will finish with a rambler which wasn’t out when I wrote about climbers and ramblers but it is looking stunning right now climbing up the stump of the huge cherry which I had cut down.

Rosa ‘Blush Rambler’

Oh dear, I haven’t even mentioned quite a few beauties but I have to stop somewhere. When I am too old to garden I shall just fill it all up with huge roses and let them scramble everywhere and I will be known as the ‘Mad Old Rose Woman’.  Well, I probably am already.

If you can identify some of my mystery roses I should be very grateful and then despite what Shakespeare said they will probably smell even sweeter.


Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments

My Top Ten June Blooms. Midsummer Magic.

Top of my June list has to be roses of course but they deserve their own post and anyway there are so many other beauties vying for attention that I don’t know where to start.

Perhaps we should begin with the most overdressed flowers of the June garden; the peonies, they have such gloriously inflated hair styles  that they cannot hold the heads up so they loll about drunkenly. The biggest drama queen is appropriately enough ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

Paeonia  lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

But just as flamboyant is this one.

Paeonia ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’

At this time of the year I suddenly find all my white and and pale pink flower are unsightly with pollen beetles.

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Laura Dessert’

‘Karl Rosenfield’ is fragrant as well as beautiful.

Paeonia lactoflora ‘Karl Rosenfield’

I love single flowers and Paeonia ‘Krinkled White is fragrant too.

Paeonia lactifora ‘Krinkled White’

‘Doreen’ is a gorgeous deep pink.

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Doreen’

Most of the bearded irises and the damp loving Iris sibirica  are over now but I have  an unusual pinky lilac double  Iris sibirica  called Pink Parfait’ which blooms later than most.

Iris sibirica ‘Pink Parfait’

Iris chrysographes ‘Black Knight’ is looking sultry and gorgeous.

Iris chrysographes ‘Black Knight’

I love orchids and the hardy Lady’s Slipper orchids are wonderfully exotic looking. I thought my Cypripedium ‘Kentucky Pink’ wasn’t going to bloom this year but then I found it when I was pulling out the dead forgetmenots and I very nearly beheaded it. These plants like a woodland setting.

Cypripedium ‘Kentucky Pink’

It is a good thing that I have the scent of roses all round the garden because my next plant is very smelly, it smells of rotting meat because it is fertilised by flies. But it looks darkly sinister and I love it. It is called Dracunculus vulgaris and it is very vulgar indeed.

Dracunculus vulgaris

 Arisaema costatum is another aroid and it looks very sinister indeed with a cobra-like hood and an elongated spadix like a whip.

Arisaema costatum

Carpentaria californica is a lovely shrub with white  flowers and glossy leaves, it belongs to the hydrangea family, hydrangeaceae It needs a warm sunny spot. it is lightly fragrant.

Carpentaria californica

Carpentaria is sometimes called a bush anemone although it is not an anemone at all. But I do have a lovely anemone in bloom right now. It is a hybrid called ‘Wild Swan’. I love the white petals which are lilac on the back.

Anemone ‘Wild Swan’

For fragrance in the garden or in a vase you can’t beat the cottage garden favourites for June, Pinks.  As I grow several stinky arisaemas this is important. It occurs to me that I have never written about Pinks before or even taken many photos of them and I can’t think why as I love them. They  are members of the Dianthus family but they look nothing like the gawky bunches of cheap carnations that you find on garage forecourts. They are easy from cuttings called pips. You just gently tug a non-flowering shoot, trim it just below a leaf joint and pull away the lower leaves. They like good drainage so I put them round the edges of a pot of compost mixed with grit. They can go in the propagator but a polythene bag will do just as well. If you beg cuttings from friends as I do then you end up with quite a few that you don’t know the name of.


Some of them are low growing and make pretty mats.

Dianthus ‘Starry Eyes’

The laced Pinks which were so beloved by the Victorians are particularly appealing.

Dianthus ‘Gran’s Favourite’

Dianthus ‘Laced Prudence’

I have a very tall growing pink which I saw running through Tom Stuart- Smith’s meadow a few years ago. It is Dianthus carthusianorum. I saw this growing wild in Translyvania where the wild flower rich meadows are a wonderful sight.

Dianthus carthusianum

Elder flowers are very fleeting and if you want to make Elder flower cordial you have to be quick about it. I sometimes make it with the pink flowered Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’because it makes pink cordial. This was a gift from a friend and a very welcome one too. The name is very appropriate because it does look just like lace.

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

Campanulas have been ringing their bells round the garden for some time now and in July there will be more to come. The peach-leaved campanula, Campanula persicifolia seeds around everywhere and is always welcome.

Campanula pericisifolia

The white one looks lovely with Cornus alternifolia.

Campanuula persicifolia

The nettle leaved Campanula trachelium can seed a bit too enthusiastically and it comes up everywhere.

Campanula trachelium

I don’t remember planting this double one.

The double Campanula trachelium ‘Bernice’ is a delight.

Campanula trachelium ‘Bernice’

As I have never grown Canterbury Bells, Campanula medium this next one is a bit of a mystery.

Campanula medium

I love the big bells of Campanula punctata.

Campaunulcampanula punctata ‘Sarastro’

Campanula punctata ‘Pink Chimes’

The little alpine campanulas are quite irresistible.

Campanula pulla

And how about the sky blue bells of the appropriately called ‘Tubby’?

Campanula cochlearifolia ‘Tubby’

Perhaps I will finish with some clematis. Soon the viticellas will be getting going and they are a joy of the July garden. But for June I have a new one, well new to me, it was launched in 2013. It is ‘Samaritan Joe’ and is such a gorgeous colour.

Clematis ‘Samaritan Joe’

On the trellis in my secret garden Clematis viticella ‘Madame Julie Correvon’ is romping away, she is always the first of my viticellas to bloom.

Clematis ‘Madame ‘Julie Correvon’

Here are few more clematis which are looking good at the moment.

It does seem a shame and ungrateful not to mention all the other June flowers which are gracing the garden at the moment, I have not feaured any delphiniums and I love the shades of blue they come in and what about lupins and geraniums? Oh well, there is always another post. But now, the garden calls; it is lovely and warm, friends are coming round and the Pianist has made some scones. So off I go to enjoy a summer’s day in the way I like best.
If you can spare the time to post your favourite June blooms and link with mine, that would be lovely.

Posted in Uncategorized | 45 Comments