For the first time in 22 years I am not spending spring weekends both coaxing and at the same time taming a garden from its winter state. It is a strange sensation to be without even a windowsill of outdoor plant space. Dare I say it, for the moment it makes me feel rootless!
Here is my old garden last year on the 26th April 2016 . . .
And, here is my last photo of the garden taken on 27 February 2017 before the pots were loaded onto the lorry.
So it is thank goodness for the odd bunch of seasonal flowers.
For me certain colour combinations are simply crying out to be tweaked and developed into some form of textile work . . .
Here, above and below, are a couple of ways I have manipulated the images to emphasise the colours and the shapes in preparation for possibly a silk scarf or a hand hooked cushion cover.
After working on these photos saving some and deleting others, I pondered my gardenless state. Reminiscing I scrolled back through hundreds of old photos featuring the gone garden when I came upon this strange picture. If you were wondering just how odd some people can get here’s proof. No, it wasn’t April Fool’s Day either when I concocted this visual yarn!
It is October, but the dahlias just keep on blooming. Some flowers are a little windblown and tatty, and the big blooms of dahlia ‘Crazy Love’ have been nibbled by earwigs, but they are still worth cutting and bringing indoors to cheer up a gloomy week.This is the second week of October and that’s three small fresh flower arrangements with no heated greenhouse or air miles involved. Flowers grown with the addition of homemade garden compost and watered with recycled bath water. I am rather pleased about that although it has been a battle with the slugs this year.
And, as I cleared away last week’s dying flowers I thought they still had a charm and grace in their faded condition worth photographing and perhaps using as the starting point for a scarf or two.
Finally, even the zingy lemony yellow dahlia (a potluck purchase as an unidentified tuber) has earned its keep as I have realised it’s acceptable in a blue and white vase on the kitchen window sill.
August in the garden, even when not hot and sunny, has a very different palette to the pastels seen at the beginning of summer.
I used to have a bed filled with bright pink echinaceas and hot orange rudbeckias, but these prairie lovers have been squeezed out as my garden has matured.
I miss my prairie, high summer bed which is now in the shade of a Bramley apple tree. It really is a bit too gloomy, but I have strategically placed large pots of dahlias to give it a lift.
Another part of my garden that has changed significantly is under the pergola. This area is now in fairly deep shade cast by the wisteria and a vigorous grape vine. However, towards the south-facing edge a blue hydrangea and some lily pots have just enough light to bloom, but they most definitely require regular watering.
I do love the scent of lilies, but in the end, on a dull August day, the vibrant, visual zing of a bunch of dahlias jolts me into remembering it is high summer after all.
Gardening is all about the turning of the seasons. Clear, bright spring changing to warm and sunny summer, but sometimes the seasons simply won’t play the game. Apparently, this ghastly, unseasonably heavy June rain is down to the jet stream. That is the jet stream is not normally directly above the UK at this time of year, but HERE IT IS.
We see it whipping round the world at over 100 miles per hour somewhere in the region of eight miles plus above the planet’s surface. It affects the UK by deepening the depressions heading our way from the Atlantic and that means more rain.
Rosa Alister Stella Gray (1894)
Rosa Francis E Lester (1946)
Rosa Narrow Water (1883)
All this rain has caught most of my roses at precisely the wrong moment. Of the old fashioned roses the small cluster and single roses are coping a little better than their more blousy, fully quartered cousins.
Rosa Comte de Chambord (1860)
Rosa Madam Isaac Pereire (1881)
Luckily, I do have a few climbers threaded through large shrubs which have offered some blooms protection from the hail and heavy rain we had last week.
Rosa Bleu Magenta (1900)
Rosa Gloire de Dijon (1853)
It’s been a bit hit and miss with a couple of my more modern roses depending on how exposed the flowers have been more than anything.
Rosa St Swithun (1993)
Rosa Awakening (1990)
Even my favourite soft, papery single rose Anemone Rose has been disappointing.
Rosa Anemone Rose (1895)
Rosa Souvenir du Docteur Jamain (1865)
Rosa Queen Elizabeth (1954)
So, looking on the bright side we have some survivors and a weekend of deadheading!
Rosa Ferdinand Pichard (1921)
Rosa Debutante (1902) Small regrowth after a total collapse a couple of years ago so glad I never got round to digging it out!!
This year’s favourite is a ‘summer only’ display and will be in full flower in July, but here’s a peak at a random early bloom of François Juranville (1906).
Recently I’ve spied quite a few photographs of flowers and flower arrangements featuring very dark or black backgrounds. This is not new in the depiction of flowers, but it is a swerve away from the de rigueur of the ‘computer white’ backgrounds so prevalent across the online world.
Pale colours are contrasted and highlighted by a dark background and interestingly the foliage greens appear more striking.
Naturally, this has all been explored before during the Dutch Golden Age. Inventive Dutch 17th-century artists created beautiful, dramatic flower paintings against dark or black backgrounds. Currently, there’s an extremely gifted contemporary photographer, Paulette Tavormina also working in this area producing some fascinating images – well worth a look.
It’s that time of year when yellow is big in the garden and often just for a few days you might see people dressed in yellow. For us northern European folks yellow is a notoriously difficult colour to wear successfully. A pale lemon or a gentle soft buttercup knit may look fine in out northern light, but after the long winter and many indoor hours too often even pale yellow does not enhance a washed out and sometimes sickly complexion. Strong bright or piercing acidic yellows are mostly definitely out. And, it’s not just clothing, I’ve noticed how bright yellow cars appear less than appealing in our spring sunshine, yet somehow in the same light nature’s yellow is so satisfying.
Marni yellow leather jacket (£3,300) and yellow leather skirt ((2,110) from their Milan show.
Yellow Vauxhall Corsa – great if you live in a hot sunny country, bit sad in grey drizzle.
Whether it’s cultivated daffodils, violas or forsythia, or even the humble roadside dandelion, nature’s yellow is eye-catching, refreshing and triumphant.
Back towards the end of June I planted out some Morning Glory seedlings. I usually put a couple in with an early flowering clematis to take over the flowering from mid summer and a couple more that will thread up into the wisteria. However, this year I had the bright idea to add some to twine round my dark red and bright pink dahlias and so I pushed in a few seedlings next to the dahlia tubers.
Spin forwards a couple of months, Morning Glory beautiful, but what is this ghastly, strangling white monster that looks so much like Morning Glory – arggh it’s bindweed in with my dahlias, quick yank it out. Then, oh dear, looking closer, I remember my little Morning Glory seedlings, too late, now ripped up and crushed. Of course, both plants are members of the Convolvulaceae family. When I was in Italy, in a warmer climate, I noticed a blue flower version that was as much a weed as white bindweed is here in England. However, as the blue ipomoea dies with the first frosts here it’s a wanted blue flower that’s grown as an annual and not a rampaging, nuisance weed.
When old mother nature comes knocking at our door in the early hours of the morning what can we expect? I understand from the weather people that the UK has just been hit by a large, summer storm system that was the tail end of hurricane Bertha. Over the weekend there has been torrential rain and flooding and very strong winds.
In the garden the flowers have been bashed, half my raspberry canes are down and the runner beans have flopped over. But I am lucky I live at the top of a hill (yes there are few hills in Norfolk), and I feel very sorry for all the folks who have woken up to flooded houses. I hope the summer wind will dry out their rooms as fast as possible.
Meanwhile earlier this evening I set about saving the beans and spied this little beauty struggling on in less than ideal conditions.