My Garden This Weekend – 7th July


Having been away for a week and then recovering from jet lag and exhaustion from a full on trip and heavy workload before it has really been two weeks since I really spent time in the garden.  Of course, it is now very hot so I am working around it by gardening early morning or in the evening which I have discovered is a lovely time to be in the garden.


There has been a major change to the garden in my absence with the arrival of my son’s workshop.  Despite sending me messages to say it had been installed he refused to send photos which was a little worrying.  Anyway I needn’t have worried as I think the shed looks great.  As my Mum says it gives the garden the character it has been missing.  There has been no real focal point and somehow by adding the greenhouse the dynamics have changes and the paths seem to work and it feel more cohesive.  The jury is now out on the colour the workshop should be.  My inclination is dark brown/black like the fence.  I think this would help the shed recede a little and would be a good backdrop for plants.   My Dad on the other hand thinks if I paint it dark it will stand out more – I am inclined to listen to my instincts.


In the meantime the Digitalis ‘Dalmation Cream’ has been flowering its socks off.  I am rather pleased with the combination of the deep burgandy  spots against the Cotinus leaves.  The Cephalaria gigantea is also covered in flowers and proving very popular with the bees.  I am really pleased about this as the Cephalaria is one of the plants that got  moved rather late in the day and looked decidedly sad for some time.  Also unlike some of the small Scabious it seems to how its flowers better and there is no need to stake or support.



I am particularly pleased with the Delphinium.  They were grown from seed three years ago but last year, the first year they should have flowered, they had their flower stalks unceremoniously chopped off by the winds.  This year I staked them very carefully and luckily they seem to have benefitted from it and are putting on a wonderful display.  They are Dwarf Delphinium which I didn’t realise at the time of buying the seed but I think has paid off as if the flower stalks were taller they would most definitely be snapped off.


When I was in San Francisco one of the gardens had step-over apples, well that’s what I call them, but this expression was met with blank looks from the US bloggers, they call them espalier.  The ones I saw were much older than mine and covered in apples so I was keen to see how mine were doing in their second year.  On three plants I have probably 6 apples which isn’t that bad I think.  I spent some time today pruning back the side shoots; it took me ages to find advice on this but luckily Geoff Hamilton’s ‘Kitchen Garden’ came to the rescue.


Finally, the roses are starting to flower and I will need to do some research to remind myself which variety  is which.  However, I do really like this pink one which has a good height and lots of flowers.

It’s nice to be home in my  own garden after visiting so many other gardens.  Ideas are already forming of things I can change and improve and the list of projects for the Autumn will probably get quite long.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. I like your inclination to paint the workshop dark brown. Would you consider a lively trim color?

    1. PS. The flowers are amazing!

  2. alison rayner says:

    Why not add a splash of colour and let the workshop stand out? How about a pretty eggshell blue or pale green? Your borders are looking really lovely.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      I really dont like pale blue and green sheds, I cant explain why but am thinking about a bright coloured highlight

    2. Diana Studer says:

      go for a colour that makes your heart sing out. When we painted ours we had a limited choice of colours. I chose a really strong blue, which looked frightening when it was freshly on. But our African sun has taken the shriek out and left the tune.

  3. Janneke says:

    I can imagine the change in your garden when you have been away for some time, all goes so fast at the moment with this beautiful weather, your flowers look lovely and it must have been a surprise that your son finished the shed. I think brown is just the right colour for a shed but may be you get a better idea. When you give it a white or other bright colour it will be a real focal point and can be very nice too.
    Happy gardening!

  4. Pauline says:

    I think black the same as your fence, then it will be a fantastic backdrop for your flowers, they will really stand out. I like your pink rose!

  5. Anna says:

    The workshop looks great Helen – son did well 🙂 I have always enjoyed gardening in the evening when it’s cooler and the light is softer. So glad to read that you enjoyed your trip to San Francisco – no doubt your list of projects will be influenced by the experience.

  6. I was thinking how good the shed would look painted a dark greenish-black. You definitely need a hayrack planter under the shed’s windows, too!

  7. bridget says:

    The Delphiniums are gorgeous…I really must get some for me garden.

    1. bridget says:

      Should of course said my garden.

  8. Cathy says:

    You must be thrilled to be back in your own garden after having left it in your family’s hands for that week and apart from the shed it will be looking more abundant than it did when you left. The shed will certainly add another dimension and of course you need to choose the colour yourself and be happy with it whatever anybody else says – it is such a personal thing, and if possible I suggest trying a few testers because if it is a focal point you need to get it right. Your cephalaria looks stunning – I must try that again as I have briefly had one in the past – and I think I will have a grow at growing delphiniums like this from seed too.

  9. djdfr says:

    Pruning fruit trees in the espalier form is a science. We have some books on it, but in French.

  10. zora read says:

    The Delphiniums and Roses look fabulous. I have never been able to grow them where I am the slugs always get to them before I do. I love the shed, It will provide the perfect contrast to all the pretty flowers you grow.

  11. I do love that cephalaria – what a colour! and i would go for a darkish green for the shed.

  12. Ah, you have delphiniums we could only dream of. And that ‘Dalmatian Cream’ is very lovely. How great that your son put his workshop there in your garden!

  13. Dark for the workshop for sure!

  14. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Your garden makes me all teary!! I had to leave my cottage garden, even tho’ I moved 300 pots. A couple of helebores starting to flower and my bulbs looking good in their pots here.

  15. How about colour for your son’s workshop rather than a dark or light brown. There are some gorgeous outdoor wood shades about these days and it adds rather than dominates.

  16. foamofdays says:

    I love your delphiniums! I tried to grow them from seeds too, but gave up when all the young seedlings were eaten by slugs 😦

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      I dont plant them out for at least a year so they are bigger stronger plants and I put slug pellets down as soon as there is any sign of growth

  17. The shed looks great. Personally I think I’d make it a feature, giving it some sort of colour that would stand out, though I’d probably go for a dark colour because I think it makes it recede into the background. Maybe a dark ox-blood reddish-brown? Or maybe just a glossy black; plants always looks “show cased” against a black background…

  18. Christina says:

    Go with your instincts Helen. In English light, a dark colour will disappear and be the best background for your flowers.

  19. Colette says:

    Helen — your flowers are stunning. Such a nice garden to come home too!
    I have to add my thoughts about your shed … I think it is interesting that you say it gives your garden character, is a focal point, and makes your paths make sense, and then you want to paint it dark so that it recedes. Obviously, your garden is so beautiful, you know what works. You must have a broader vision for it beyond just the paint color.
    Welcome home.

  20. AnnaJMac says:

    What about a dark amethyst or lavender for the shed? Dark but friendly and really great for making things less visible.

  21. Caro says:

    How lovely to come home and explore the changes in such a beautiful garden. You have some lovely plants in there – I adore cotinus, it’s plum coloured foliage would make a wonderful foil for that gorgeous foxglove. I hope this warm weather continues for a bit longer, I’m also thoroughly enjoying pottering about at the end of the day as the gardens here are starting to be in shade from 3 in the afternoon so I can weed and potter in a cooling breeze.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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