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.
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!).
Regular readers will know that as I’ve mentioned before I live in the driest region of the UK. Summer in East Anglia is renowned for open, sunny skies above a patchwork of golden fields of wheat and barley blanketing the gently undulating landscape.
Not this July, it’s been leaden skies and rain, rain, rain. Last Saturday in the Norwich area more rain fell in a 24 hour period than would normally fall during the whole month of July. Low lying areas are flooding, the fields are sodden and all the delicate flowers in my garden have been bashed to death.
Tough flowers surviving the weather – white dahlia
Last month Vogue UK had an update piece on the Spring/Summer 2015 trends commenting on the presence of all kinds of scarves on the catwalks. So I had a quick click around to see what all the fuss was about and to use the Biblical expression ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’. I guess when you think about it a simple square or length of cloth is an elementary item of clothing and can be tied up into all types of apparel.
But as a ‘scarf’ you can wear a long piece draped artfully round the neck.
Silk chiffon – Valeria by Agnes Ashe
Silk twill -Ardith Tangerine sold.
Or, a small square can be tied niftily to add a splash of colour.
Flat crepe silk scarf Morgan yellow
Flat crepe silk scarf Morgan Willow
Of course, draped or tied round your head is always an option.
Pink silk crepe de chine by Agnes Ashe.
Cream silk crepe de chine by Agnes Ashe.
Silk chiffon – Valeria by Agnes Ashe
Or, why not arrange it casually like a shawl or even try out the recent trend for belting your scarf across your body!
Draped like a shawl Ophelia Blue long crepe de chine silk scarf hand painted by Agnes Ashe.
It is definitive – after a year’s grace my beautiful old climbing rose is definitely dead. Last weekend I spent a few hours cutting down and removing the old skeleton of tangled lifeless branches. This winter’s tidy up has revealed quite a gap on the east end of the pergola and dividing trellis.
Rosa Debutante in full glory in the summer of 2013.
Winter 2015 and the dead rose has left quite a gap.
Initially I had been considering another pink rose planted away from the site of the dead rose, but still trailing up over the pergola. There are hundreds of pink roses to choose from and it is a case of deciding what qualities I would like such as colour, scent, length of flowering period, height and possible hip production. And, also very importantly whether the rose will tolerate my impoverished, free-draining soil and low rainfall. But another pink rose?
Very pink, disease resistant but no scent. Rosa Karlsruhe
Delicate, pale pink, scented, but not that vigorous possible as short climber. Rosa St Swithun
Striking with strong magenta, fuchsia and paler pink stripes. Rosa Ferdinand Pichard.
Perhaps not pink then. How about a white rose (the neighbouring wisteria is white) or even a pale yellow?
Single, white with small hips and good scent introduced in 1946 Rosa Francis E Lester
Repeat flowering, reliable, gorgeous scent. Rosa Alister Stella Gray.
Of course, also, what about hips too for the autumn and winter months?
Also good hips from the wild dog rose, Rosa canina, but growth is too wild and natural for a pergola.
Medium sized hips on Rosa Alister Stella Gray.
But having a good think and looking again at some of my favourite colour combinations.
And, I think that the peachy apricot colour I’m looking for could be this rose, rosa François Juranville. It was first introduced in 1906 and as it is a Wichurana Rambler it will only flower once in mid-summer, but within a few years that should make a spectacular display for July. It’s the colour and scent that wins the day!