Tag Archives: garden design

July becomes August: and Summer becomes Autumn

I always like to look and see what people have been saying about this time of year.

The flush of Spring has gone and the green has settled into a rich colour turning golden where it has been dry and sunny. The grasses have begun to flower and the peak of the garden flowering period has all but finished. So here is one quote which -almost-tells the story of our roses – except that the roses I am thinking of last slightly more than one day and are lilac and red not pink – our pink rose will carry on flowering into November or even December if there are few frosts!

“The serene philosophy of the pink rose is steadying.  Its fragrant, delicate petals open fully and are ready to fall, without regret or disillusion, after only a day in the sun.  It is so every summer.  One can almost hear their pink, fragrant murmur as they settle down upon the grass: ‘Summer, summer, it will always be summer.'”
–  Rachel Peden20150620_123407 20150620_123430

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.”
–  Ada Louise Huxtable

And have you shed your clothes yet? It took me a long time this year but my winter jumpers have finally made it into the spare wardrobe and the summer t-shirts and swirly skirts have come out. Even sun-tan cream has appeared in our bathroom.

“Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—”
–  Emily Dickinson, Answer July 

“August rushes by like desert rainfall,
A flood of frenzied upheaval,
But still catching me unprepared.
Like a matchflame
Bursting on the scene,
Heat and haze of crimson sunsets.
Like a dream
Of moon and dark barely recalled,
A moment,
Shadows caught in a blink.
Like a quick kiss;
One wishes for more
But it suddenly turns to leave,
Dragging summer away.”
–  Elizabeth Maua Taylor

“In August, the large masses of berries, which, when in flower, had attracted many wild bees, gradually  complement their weight again bent down and broke their tender limbs.”
–  Henry David Thoreau

One of my favourite quotes is the following:

“A weed is but an unloved flower.”

Why? Because our garden is full of weeds – to other people that is  – we grow the wild flowers of the countryside and yes, we don’t ‘weed’ our beds completely and leave the flowers to range across the garden as they will. We love all the flowers in our garden but, and this is a big but, we don’t love ivy in our soil. Ivy is great on the garden fence but nowhere else. And we don’t love bind weed – it strangles plants – but we do love the ornamental version of it as it is not vigorous and we can train it where we like it. Not that I have got it to grow successfully in our garden yet.20150421_155314 20150620_123509 20150620_123535

And I totally agree with the following:

“All gardening is landscape painting,’ said Alexander Pope.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

I can’t paint with my hands any more due to arthritis and the ‘shakes’ but I can plan my garden like a painting and put this plant with that to make a pleasing whole both colour and form. That is why our garden is a riot of blooms. It is untidy in appearance until you look at the microcosm, where the plants blend harmoniously into each other and complement and enhance. The flowers of one bloom through the leaves of another – the clematis take their own route through the world – or do they? Sometime yes and sometimes no. Do we corrall plants into a space – sometimes but rarely – we allow them to spread their wings and achieve fulfilment in shape and flowers and bring the wildlife that we love to enjoy our garden with us. The hum of many bees. The flutter of many butterflies. The hop skip and jump of frogs and toads and stealthy swim of newts. The flashing bright colours of the dragonflies and damselflies as they hover over the ponds enchant with their jewels and the birds cheep and twitter and call in the hedges and the fledglings flutter off from their nest – 3 great tits this year survived (from 4 originally hatched).

For information about the Great Tit see :http://www.bto.org/sites/default/files/shared_documents/gbw/associated_files/bird-table-69-great-tit-article.pdf


Stones and Cornus: revised and revealed

It is now April and June will be here soon enough and the garden is still not growing! Well not 100% true some things have started but mostly we are still looking eagerly for daffs to open up when they should be finished by now. But optimism is the way gardeners work as evidenced by the crowds yesterday in the Garden Centre where we went. We thought ‘go on Monday, it will be quieter’; well no such thing – the queue in the café was looping round twice.  It had good coffee at an excellent price and home-made cakes and scones – we had a strawberry scone with cream between us as well as some lunch. Mostly it was us oldies there, but also some younger people who had brought the children as they had several children’s activities, including growing Mr Potato Head, and decorating cupcakes. Good thinking! But then every year Ayletts in St Alban’s is nominated as best independent  garden centre in England. And wins with great aplomb. It has a wonderful selection of items and huge range of goods including we were amused to see this time, ‘Buy your own Folly’. This was a set of half-ruined walls with windows in a mock medieval style bricks and stone that you could buy all or sections of to place in your garden, rather in the style of the Romantics in 18th century landscaping. Never seen this before. And daren’t ask the price…. In the event, we went to buy stones for our front garden. We have dug up a lot of the plants there so we can make a stone bed in a more Chinese/Japanese style leading down to the pond. They had a great selection of stones and cobbles including some large ones which they are delivering for free next week as our order is of enough value – but much cheaper than we thought it would be! We have ordered a mix of sizes of Borderstone mixed – which come in pale shades of grey through to very pale pinky grey; and a few heather cobbles and small stones to provide some contrast. This will work very well with our red/maroon etc cornus which have not cut fully back this year, just trimmed out the taller stems – around 1/3 per plant. This is so that they will provide a backdrop to the stones. We also came home with some bulbs for summer/autumn flowering (Bessera Elegance)

Bessera Elegance photos from web. Hope ours flower as well as these!

Bessera Elegance photos from web. Hope ours flower as well as these!

but which, as they can’t be planted outside until it is 15 degrees or more, will join the other bulbs (Polianthes tuberosas), corms (Begonias)  and fuchsia and geranium and…plants on our bedroom windowsills. Had to buy more windowsill trays for this.

Polianthes tuberosas photos taken from web

Polianthes tuberosas photos taken from web

Talking to our Yellow Book local co-ordinator who came round on Sunday to drop off our leaflets etc, we were talking about the cornus and realised that if we moved one or two of the smaller plants that have grown themselves  – cornus are quite good at propagating themselves – to fill in the gaps, the final hedge could then be woven together. This would look very good with the different coloured stems. Also, it would provide an excellent stand for a herbaceous clematis – of which I hope to have more if the seeds I planted grow! Or I could take a cutting or stem section off the really big one I bought recently from our neighbour. Have to think about colour here… Glad though we have some months until we open – early June for the local community and late June for the Yellow Book. We may have some peonies for early June as the tree peonies are coming through strongly now but as for the herbaceous ones they will be later and whether or not we will get the roses and pink ceanothus is anyone’s guess. It is finally raining today – which the soil is grateful for – I’ve been round and watered pots this past week it has been so dry and with that cold easterly wind and plenty of sunshine even if never warm, things have dried out significantly.

Final comment on the garden – we still don’t have any frogspawn. Our postman has just said he has the first in his pond and we have seen some in shallower and therefore warmer ponds – which then will have got frozen as the temperature dropped below zero for several nights. But our frogs are late. And our newts are not showing themselves either. The only problem with newts is that they eat dragonfly larvae and sometimes tadpoles I believe. So how do you choose? Or do you just let Nature decide?

Also, I thought I might take this as an opportunity to recommend some good gardening books: all reviewed in GardensIllustrated;

How to Create an Eco-Garden by John Walker and published by Aquamarine  – good for novices perhaps? but short list of eco-friendly plants. However, i have a list of plants that are bee friendly if anyone wants and Greenpeace have an offer at the moment of items to set up a bee friendly garden including seeds and a guide to bees.

Gardening Vertically by Noemie Vialard and published by WW Norton and Co.  Now I like this one as we have a ‘vertical’ garden – and have tried various plants – none very successfully despite the watering system. This year we are going for sedums and such like plus wallenbergia seeing as the latter seems to like growing in our weed prevention fabric! Let’s hope they settle better. At least we can populate from our own plants and not spend a fortune filling it!

The Urban Kitchen Gardener by Tom Moggach and published by Kyle Cathie. Tom also writes about food so he is well placed to talk here and also he writes about how to grow in containers which us urban people often have to do – my veggies are all in containers of various types.

The Gardener’s Perpetual Almanack for today has the Red Polyanthus as its flower and says they can be sown in sheltered places. Also Queen wasps may emerge – we did see a Queen bumble yesterday so maybe…

It quotes from Ralph AustenA Treatise of Fruit-Trees 1653.

‘In the spring of the yeare joy springs afresh in beholding the seeds, and young Grafts and Plants spring forth vigorously and strongly. And the buds and blossomes breathing forth pretious and pleasant Oders, rejoyce and delight the inward and outward senses, promising a plentiful Harvest of Fruits in Autumne; and all the Sommer long joy is cherished, with colle fresh ayres, singing Birds, sight of abundance of Fruits, burd’ning all the Trees, delighting the Eye with their beautifull formes and colours’….

Anyway, coffee time now and then planting!