My Garden This Weekend – 5th July 2015

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The garden is slowly moving out of the quiet June phase and the late summer colour is beginning to appear.  I am really pleased with the Calmagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ and Sanguisorba combination.  I would love to claim that it was planned but I struggled last year with how the plants would work together in the Big Border so this year is a case of waiting and see what works together and what needs tweaking.  There is a Cornus ‘Grace’ adjacent to this pairing and the sanguisorba really picks up on the colour of the foliage; so I think this planting will be staying.

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The Anthemis ‘Sauce Hollandaise’ has started to flower.  I love this plant when the flowers are open but it has an irritating habit of letting its flower petals go limp in the heat so this last week, with the high temperatures we have had, it has looked as though it was dying but as you can see each morning it perks up and looks great.  Hopefully with the rain we have had today it will be a little happier.

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The high temperatures and distinctly low rain levels this year has had a negative impact on some of my plants which need a little moisture.  The Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis) above is a case in point.  It is planted in the former pond, which was meant to be a bog garden but I suspect I was a little over enthusiastic when I was piercing holes in the pond liner as it’s not as boggy as I would hope.  However the fern has been  planted here for a few years now and has had its best year to date with long fronds and lots of growth but now it is looking really singed.  The Prunus kojo-no-mai also has dry and crispy brown leaves on some of the branches but the shrub has been planted for years so I am hoping that it will be OK.

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This Hemerocallis is growing next to the Anthemis and I am pleased that it is picking up on the yellow centres of the daisies.  I’m not a fan of day lilies but this one was looking sad in a nursery sale and I like the smaller delicate flowers than you normally get with day lilies. There are also white phloxes about to flower and this weekend I have added some zinnia seedlings and a couple of Amaranthus ‘Autumn Palette’ grown from seed from Special Plants.  I’m not sure about them as the flower tassels are very orange but we shall see how they bulk up and what they look like with the zinnias.

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Amongst my many plant weaknesses are Alliums.  I do like the large ones like Globemaster but I really like little alliums and have a growing collection.  The one above is Allium caeruleum which I had bought for showing but they now live on the edge of the Big Border where they can benefit from baking in the sun.

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Another favourite, Allium cernuum, which I think has a lovely graceful appearance and I think I might add some more of these, particularly as they don’t suffer with the large leaves like some other alliums.

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Finally, this must be one of the gaudiest roses around.  I inherited it with the house and have developed a peculiar fondness for it.  I would never buy a rose with such flowers but it makes me smile.  It lives next to a Choiysa ‘Sundance’ which has quite luminous chartreuse leaves and seems to compliment the roses – somehow! I like the combination so much that I have planted the Lathyrus rotundifolius that I bought a few weeks ago to grow over the Choiysa.  Who knows it might look amazing next year, we shall have to wait and see.

Arisaema consanguineum

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My current favourite plant in the garden is Arisaema consanguineum.  A new addition this year from Dryad Nursery, one of those small mail order nurseries that have all sorts of hidden delights available during a small window of opportunity each year.  Unlike my Arisaema speciosum plants which are fairly short in stature and hide their flowers under their large leaves, this plant has height and elegance and the flower is proud and easy to see – what’s not to love.

I must apologise for being a poor respondent  at the moment.  I have a lot on at work and home for the next few weeks so its head down but I do love receiving your comments and will respond and visit your blogs when I come up for air.

End of Month View – June 2015

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Well that was June.  It seems as though I blinked and missed it and I suspect July will be the same given my diary.  I posted yesterday about my new found enthusiasm for the garden so I wont repeat myself, suffice to say that the garden is already looking better for my work yesterday.  There is some colour from the foxgloves but not as much as I would wish for in the centre of the garden but I am now working on that.

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The borders around the bottom path are looking more colourful. The roses are blooming, some of them are not as floriferous as I would like so they may be on the hit list if they don’t perform better next year.  The penstemons are starting to flower and are adding much needed colour around the stems of the roses.

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The shed view up the stairs and the border to the left is beginning to fill out.  The poppies and Ammi majus have looked lovely and I am now anticipating the agapanthus and zinnias which will flower in a month or so.

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The other shed view from the bottom path.  The asters have really put a spurt on over the last month and will I hope really colour up the Big Border in a couple of months.  I really like the mass of foliage and plant material here but it will need to be kept an eye on to make sure one plant doesn’t swamp out another but at least you can’t see any weeds which may be lurking in the soil below!

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The main woodland border is really full and the Hosta ‘Sun and Substance’ dominates.  I need to do some thinning around it I think so it looks its best.  I think the Solomons Seal to its left needs a slight relocation so both plants are shown off better but I am pleased with the coverage.  I also think there is scope for a little variety in texture so maybe the addition of a fern might help to the left of the border.

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The newish planted woodland area is beginning to fill out and I think I will add some bulbs through here, maybe some dwarf narcissus and crocus.

So that is the garden at the end of June.  The summer temperatures appear to be about to rise drastically over the next week so I will have to keep an eye on the new plantings.

Any one is welcome to join in the End of Month View and to use it how they wish.  All I ask is that you add a link to this post in yours and a link to your post in the comments box below.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 28/6/2015

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As anticipated my visit to Great Dixter last weekend has really reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the garden.  I have started to look at the borders and considered how they could be improved.  There are some combinations which I am really pleased with which feature on this post but the lessons I learnt at Dixter are starting to help me re-evaluate those areas that I have struggled with for a while.  I have removed the majority of the spent oriental poppies, leaving just a few to add seed to what Fergus Garrett calls the garden’s seed bank. Luckily yesterday when I got home from the monthly HPS meeting I spent a little time staking plants.  I am hopeless at staking, always leaving it to late, but at Dixter I saw what a difference it can make to the border and how inconspicuously you can do it, so out came the canes and string.  I am really glad I did as we had a heavy downpour overnight and I know that plants such as the Ammi majus would have been flattened.

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In the poppies place I have planted out some zinnias which should contrast well with the agapanthus which look like they will have flowers this year, something I am really pleased with.

I have been looking at planting for the front of borders in particular to go in front of the roses which grow in the border along the top of the wall.  Luckily at the garden club there are a number of nurserymen selling plants, as well as the members plant sales so I came home with a hefty haul of delights which strangely seemed to be predominantly pink.  So planted out today were:

Selinum wallichianum
Viola cornuta ‘Clouded Yellow’Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Little Angel’
Geranium ‘Mavis Simpson’
Persicaria bistora ‘Hohe Tatra’
Helicrysum stoechas ‘White Barn’
Dianthus ‘Moulin Rouge’

I also included an Eryginum pandanifolium ‘Physic Purple’ which I bought at Dixter which should add some height to the Big Border.

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I am really enjoying the profusion of flowers on the Geranium palmatum. I think it is my favourite geranium and I need to see about collecting some seeds as they are only just hardy and it would just be my luck to lose the lot if we have a hard winter this year.  I fancy adding some to the front garden behind the Alchemilla mollis as I think the combination of the magenta pink and lime yellow would be electric. This is the best the top border has ever looked and I am finally feeling rather pleased with it.  I want to relocate the Tetrapanex here, between the bamboos, as its leaves are swamping the surrounding planting in its current location just further down the slope.

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As the garden was very wet for most of the morning today I made myself sort through the greenhouse.  I don’t grow edibles any more but my youngest had a brief foray into vegetable growing which essentially meant that he acquired some seeds, sowed them, and then lost interest as his proposed house move hasn’t gone ahead so he no longer has a garden for them.  The result is that I have ended up with some tomato, chilli, pepper, basil, parsley and sage seedlings as well as a rosemary and thyme plant.  I managed to find space in the greenhouse for large pots for 3 tomatoes and then I planted another two in a very large pot along with the rosemary and thyme so hopefully there will be a fragrant productive pot on the patio.

I am pleased with the staging area this summer.  The pelargoniums are flowering this year, after spending last summer producing lots of foliage.  I took some twitter advice from Fibrex nursery and I am religiously watering them every day and feeding them once a week and it is already paying off, well apart from the one on the right hand side which is ignoring my efforts.

 

Sissinghurst – a Romantic Confection

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As I was staying in Sissinghurst village for my visit to Great Dixter at the lovely Milk House, which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone visiting that area, it would have been madness for me not to visit Sissinghurst garden.IMG_0447

I have to admit to having mixed feelings about this garden visit.  Sissinghurst is one of those gardens that, as a gardener, you feel you should have visited and be able to reference. Interestingly during conversations on the study day at Great Dixter quite a few people were, shall we say, a bit sniffy about Sissinghurst, saying such things as ‘well I have visited but I don’t feel a need to go back’, which was intriguing. I need to say now that my mindset on arrival was somewhat distracted as I was having car issues and I was worrying whether the car would get me the 4.5 hours home (in fact the car was OK which was a huge relief). So I didn’t have the relaxing contented visit I had hoped for.

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I had the benefit of being one of the first through the door and instead of exploring the tower I set out to see as much of the garden as I could before it become crowded.  More by luck than design I found myself firstly in the renowned White Garden. Now I am not a fan of White Gardens I find them sort of static, I much prefer contrasting colours or even harmonious colours and the way the colours work with each other.  However, I have to admit that this part of the garden had a nice calming atmosphere, particularly given my frame of mind.

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Again in the Cottage Garden, which is planted up in hot vibrant colours, I wasn’t thrilled with this combination – the yellows are all the same and I would have liked to see some possibly lighter shades of yellow or an orange verbascum such as Clementine to jazz it up.  However to be far this was just one small planting in the Cottage Garden, the rest was a mixture of strong yellows, red and oranges and lots of textures.

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One of the things I really liked at Sissinghurst were the vistas through the various walls or hedges leading the eye to the next garden or an area you wanted to find your way to.  I have quite a few photographs of vignettes such as the one above and also of large planted pots planted with a single type of plants – an interesting contrast to the mass groupings of pots at Great Dixter.

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Like the White Garden I find the Nuttery with its shady woodland planting relaxing.  I have a weakness for ferns and I was bewitched with the way the sunlight was bouncing off the fronds in this mass planting and showcasing the statue.  I would like to try to do something similar but I don’t know if I have the space.

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The area of the garden that I really enjoyed was the Rose Garden which was somewhat surprising.  I am liking roses more and more and I particularly liked seeing them planted with other perennials.  As you can see the alliums in the photograph above and at the top of the post provide a wonderful froth through the borders.  The scent in this garden, especially as the sun was shining, was quite divine.  I liked this colour palette which provided a really romantic atmosphere (if you ignored all the other visitors which I studiously managed to exclude from my photos).  IMG_0518On arrival at the garden there was an exhibition about Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicholson’s marriage, with copies of their letters etc.  On the walls of the barn that the exhibition was housed in were painted quotes from these letters which showed the strength of their feelings for each other and I think the Rose Garden really epitomises their love for each other.

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So what is my overall impression of Sissinghurst? Firstly, I think I was spoilt by my visit to Great Dixter the day before which really speaks to me.  However, Sissinghurst is a beautiful garden and is the first National Trust garden I have visited which has an atmosphere which, in my opinion, is so hard to come by when the garden is not managed by its creator/owner. I know that Troy Scott-Smith, who took on the role of Head Gardener in 2013, is working to move the garden away from  pristine horticultural excellence back to a garden, which although demonstrating good horticulture, also has a more artistic feel such as it had in Vita’s time.  You can really see that there are areas where this has been achieved and other areas where it hasn’t quite got there.  Hardly surprising given Troy has only been post for two years.  I think I would like to visit again in say 2 or 3 years to see if Troy has been allowed to have his way and how the garden has developed.