Well, before all the rain and unseasonal drops in temperature, it was that time of year where many gardens across the towns and villages of East Suffolk had plenty of flowering plants in their grounds and many front gardens were adorned by the splendid hollyhock.
You couldn’t miss cottage gardens decorated with these colourful beauties, often self-seeded, thriving in the local free-draining soil. This very blousy, double pink hollyhock was attracting plenty of busy bees in the sun between the recent showers. And, then the torrential downpours arrived bringing hard times for both bees and butterflies. Apparently, the jet stream is in the wrong place again!!
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!
My favourite Iris reticulata cultivar is ‘Katharine Hodgkin’. Strictly speaking I. reticulata are late-winter bloomers brightening up the February gloom, but my bulbs often don’t flower until well into March. This cultivar is a hybrid between I.winogradowii and I.histrioides and, provided with free draining soil and some sunshine, flowers well. The above bulbs are in a pot. They were mistakenly dug up last autumn from beneath a weeping pear. They were then unceremoniously and temporarily shoved into an empty pot and forgotten until I found them blooming earlier this month. It appears benign neglect hasn’t been detrimental.
We’ve had a week of on and off sunshine here in Norfolk and most of the cherry trees are just about coming into bloom. However, even in more sheltered gardens the double blossoms are still only fat, about-to-burst buds. Sadly, the forty-year-old cherry tree in my father’s garden has died after a combination of old age and over vigorous pruning, but the Magnolia soulangeana lives to bloom for another spring.
Magnolia soulangeana is a flowering tree. It is often planted as a feature tree as I think this one was. It was originally surrounded by lawn, but rebuilding of the house and the introduction of a terrace has resulted in it now growing up against the terrace wall. Its moment of glory is fleeting, but as it’s so early in the horticultural year it is most welcome after the grey, grey winter.
It has plenty of blooms which can now be easily appreciated from standing on the terrace and looking down into the tree – a new and unexpected perspective.
Over several winter weekends I emptied all my pots in preparation for moving house.
I did take a few photos of the winter garden just before it was partially deconstructed.
It was hard, awkward work emptying the big pots and the biggest two pots with fifteen-year-old clipped yews had to be left. I couldn’t even budge them and I couldn’t bear to cut the yews to pieces. It all ended up making me feel like . . . . .
Still, an overflowing tub of grape hyacinths is an uplifting sight,
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).
A couple of months ago everything in the garden looked as though the abundance of summer would never arrive and then suddenly here it all is. There are plants bursting into flower and flowing all over each other.
20th April 2016
12th June 2016
Here are a couple of examples that have so far withstood the torrential rain we’ve been experiencing, but, sadly, I have to report my old fashioned roses have been hammered.
But, after a quick tour round the beds I see there’s plenty of potential waiting in the wings. There are lilies, perennial poppies and some knautia all in bud.
Of course, the open, cheerful and always reliable oxeye daisies are a favourite with the bees. They also look beautiful and fresh in the early morning sun (when we have some!).
Unusual for us Brits to get a Bank Holiday with sunshine so I made the most of it busy in the garden. Seem to be snowed under with self-sewn white honesty this year.
All the greens are vivid and fresh and over the pergola the wisteria is just about to burst into its dramatic display.
It’s a busy time in the garden pricking out seedlings, potting on and preparing the raised beds for plantings.
I’m always surprised at how each year the garden is different. Over the winter some plants have survived and others have withered, but this spring the amalanchier lamarkii (Juneberry) is finally looking tree-like after 10 years.