Monthly Archives: May 2014

End of month view – May 2014


Everything has, all of a sudden, gone rather bonkers.  All those odd self seeded plants are threatening to take over, but it’s unlikely I’ll live to see it as I will have been strangled by convolvulus long before…

In the right hand Swing Bed above, the roses on the pergola are flowering well.  As some of you know, the idea of the two Swing Beds is that they are generally symmetrical, but this hasn’t been helped by two things.  Firstly, my reluctance to pull out the existing apple tree and secondly, David Austin’s inability to supply two ‘Wedding Day’ rambler roses for the outside uprights.  By a sheer coincidence, I think the rose on the far right is instead ‘Snow Goose’ which I have along the drive bed and was inherited.  Consequently, these two are flowering away, but on the left hand Swing Bed, my Wedding Day rose is biding its time and instead I have the Clematis Josephine (which is a little smothered on the right).  These symmetrical plans are all very well but one does need to be flexible! IMG_2731 This is the Swing Bed looking north.  You can see the Cerinthe is still flowering like mad, but has now been joined by some perennial geraniums, foxgloves and Sisyrinchium striatum. I’m particularly chuffed with the Digitalis ‘Suttons Apricot’ which I grew from seed.   I planted them out last year (having planted the seed the year before), but lost a number to the chickens, and the remainder were all rather nibbled, so last year there were no flowers. However they’re now flowering well, so I guess one positive of the fox getting my poor girls last year, is that I get my foxgloves this year! IMG_2664 IMG_2732 This is the left hand Swing Bed and you can see my solitary lupin, Lupinus ‘Gallery Rose’, and you can also see a massive clump of Sisyrinchium.  The plant was a gift which I split and put a small piece in each bed a couple of years ago.  What’s comical is the fact that in both beds the original clump in the centre of the bed is quite small, but a much larger clump has somehow bullied its way to the front of the border and is now crowding out the geraniums and alchemilla.  I think some judicious ‘thinning’ (binning?) is in order.

What you can’t see in the photo above is my lovely poppy,  I’m pretty sure this is Papaver Patty’s Plum.  It does look a little pink for Patty, but I can’t think that I planted anything else. IMG_2717 IMG_2727 The Grass Bed is having a transformational moment.  I’ve planted Verbascum chaixii album which I grew from seed, all along the back of this bed, but I don’t think they will flower this year.  In front I already have the mad allium, Allium ‘Hair’ (still in bud) and far too many fox and cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca).

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This is a plant I first saw when I took my mother to The Garden House on her 80th birthday.  This instantly became one of my favourite gardens and this plant reminds me of a wonderful garden and a very special day.  However, it is threatening to take over the garden, so I think some more thinning/binning required here.  I think once I’ve got round to taking out the forget me nots I’ll add some annuals from the rather large collection still filling the greenhouse.  But which to choose? IMG_2734 The Diving Lady, introduced in last month’s End of Month View, now has a pool to dive into and something to look at: IMG_2735

The strawberries are ripening so we’ve but some fleece over the whole bed (bottom right of picture above) so that we don’t lose them all to the blackbirds.


Meanwhile the Shady Bed is looking lush and green (although rather overrun with Honesty seedlings).  There is very little colour here, apart from the rose, which laughs at my ‘Shady’ description.


This is the bed which epitomises the ‘bonkersness’ of the garden currently.  This is one of the ‘Lavender Beds’ (that’s a name I’ve just made up as they don’t have names, but there are two of them and the path in the middle is lined with lavender).

A number of these plants were inherited (the rose and the paeony for example) but this year all sorts of plants which have been growing around and about, seem to have decided to party in this one bed at the same time.  The Allium Purple Sensations are on their third year and better than ever, the Gladioulus Byzantinus have not previously visited this bed, and the Linaria purpurea and Verbena Bonariensis which were here before, have had a population explosion.  I’m starting to feel I’ve completely lost control, and yet there’s a certain delight in letting them all get on with it.


The Oak Bed (above) continues to disappoint, but the Melianthus major  is still a joy and the Gladioli here cheer me up.  I think a proper redesign is required for next year.


I have lots of lovely pots – these Aeoniums were planted by the OH and are very handsome.IMG_2636

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, (which I think will have to be a whole other post) the tomatoes are flowering, but unfortunately they’re still in their 9cm pots…IMG_2685

With many thanks to Helen at The Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month meme.  Why don’t you go and check out some other End of Months?

In a vase on Monday – the debut of the little black vase


Today’s ‘little black vase’, made by the British firm Wedgwood, was inherited from my mother, Mary.   She would often have it filled with home grown flowers in her entrance hall, so I thought I keep up the tradition.

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This week’s vase has Gladiolus byzantinus, (which I picked as they had been knocked over by the recent wind and rain) and Red Valerian, Centranthus rubra, which is growing like a weed at the moment, (indeed some would call it a weed!)  Sadly the flash has bleached the colour in the ‘vase’ shots, but hopefully this close up gives you an idea of true intensity of colour.IMG_2609

I combined the pinks with fennel and the fabulous, glaucous Melianthus major foliage.IMG_2610

With thanks again to Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme – and getting me out in the rain to pick flowers!


Return to the Duver – late May 2014


Since my last Duver post there have been great floral developments on the Duver.

Firstly, the foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), which I worried might have been depleted by some over enthusiastic council clearing, seem to be back in full strength.  The seeds can germinate decades after dispersal (much like poppies), so if this year had been disappointing, I suppose all would not have been lost.

I love the density of flowers – my foxgloves, grown from seed, cossetted at every step of the way and protected from council ‘enthusiasm,’ are nothing like as impressive.  Nature eh?


IMG_2452Also, behind the foxgloves in the first picture is a magnificent Tree Lupin (Lupinus Arboreus). Apparently lupins were brought to the UK by the Romans who used them as food for themselves and their animals, but also ploughed them back into the soil as green manure.

The Isle of Wight is known as a Roman settlement (there is a fabulous Roman Villla not far away at Brading), so amazing to think there may have been lupins here for 2000 years.

There are a number of tree lupins in this area and this one, in a much more shady position, will clearly be flowering later than the one above.


On a sandy spit which protrudes south into the mouth of the Bembridge Harbour is a magnificent colony of Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis).   I love the way the colours differ on the same plant, depending on the age of the the individual flower.


On the same sandy spit is a beautiful small clump of Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris) . According to Sarah Raven it’s ‘edible and said to taste like peas – the young shoots are good in a spring salad or as quickly wilted greens’.  However, as the clump is not very big I will leave them well alone.

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Meanwhile, the beautiful Thrift continues to flower.


Post script   I’ve been alerted by Chloris from The Blooming Garden, to ‘Wildflower Wednesday’ and, although this was posted on Monday, I’ve decided to join in.  I also think I might try to coordinate my future ‘Duver’ blogs with Wildflower Wednesday in the future.

With many thanks to Gail, who hosts Wildflower Wednesday from Clay and Limestone in Tennessee.


Chelsea 2014, better late than never, #2

IMG_2573 You’ve got to love David Austin roses, and this ‘tea table’ in their stand in the marquee was almost as gorgeous as their roses.  See Boscobel below, not new, just ravishing.IMG_2576 On the way to David Austin I passed the RHS stand for the Plant of the Year 2014.  I took an instant dislike to the hydrangea which won, as well as the two runners up, but thought both this Turks Cap lily Lilium martagon ‘Jennifer Evans’, (bred by Ieuan Evans) IMG_2571 and the Trollius, ‘Dancing Flame’, (bred by Fairweathers Nursery, Hampshire, but entered by Hardy’s), were fabulous.IMG_2579 We visited a number of new nurseries, as well as a number of ‘old friends’ and one of the first new ones was Tynings Climbers, who hold the national collections of both Passiflora CVS and Jasminum.  I’d definitely like both these passion flowers – Passiflora ‘Constance Elliot’ and ‘Purple Haze’.

Also new to me was the Botanic Nursery, Atworth, who hold the national collection of Digitalis.  I really like the towering spires of foxgloves and whilst I already have some in the garden, I’d definitely like more and so bought seed of Digitalis pupurea ‘Apricot’ (not sure if this is the same as ‘Suttons Apricot’ I have already), D x mertonensis (I’ve grown this before but don’t have it currently and was inspired to grow it again by the ‘Positively Stoke-on-Trent’ planting), D. ‘Primrose Carousel (a lovely cream with purple spotted throat, see photo below) and D. Lutea, which I’m hoping to get to grow in the shady oak bed. IMG_2586 I also admired the grasses on the Eversley Nursery stand and particularly liked the cream pom poms on this Sesleria nitida.IMG_2588 Of nurseries I’ve bought from before, the Hardy’s stand was looking great and won Gold again.  In addition to the new Trollius above, I liked a low pink Geranium ‘Elke’ and a good blue, Geranium ‘Rozanne,’ as well as this rather mad peony, Paeonia ‘Copper Kettle’.IMG_2578 Another nursery I’ve bought from before is Trewidden Nursery, who are based in Cornwall and, according to their websire, are the most south westerly nursery in mainland Britain. They specialise in exotics, such as Proteas, Restios and succulents and, living in a relatively mild spot myself, I bought a couple of plants from them earlier in the year.  This time I’ve gone for seeds and am trying Tulbaghia simmleri, Aloe striata, Lessertia montana, and Gladiolus papilio – but forgot to take any photos.

And now for the real shock.  The OH, who to date has confined himself to succulents and, (when badgered), the lawn, had a very long chat with the man at Hampshire Carnivorous Plants and treated himself to a set of three small plants.  He doesn’t seem to have the names of them, but they’re definitely one each of (some kind of) Venus Fly Trap, Pitcher Plant and a Sundew.  They’ve already been transferred from their plug packaging, and are now sited in the greenhouse.  Could this be the beginning of something?

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And, given time, will I end up having to contend with something like this?   Golly.IMG_2594

Chelsea 2014, better late than never, #1


So all in all a great Chelsea.  Compared to last year, I found far more I wanted to photograph in the show gardens, and my appreciation and enjoyment of the marquee intensifies year on year with my increased knowledge – and quest for yet more knowledge – regarding particular plants.

The Artisan Gardens were their usual triumph of how much you can fit in to a tiny space and, like the judges, I loved the Kazuyuki Ishihara ‘A paradise on earth’ garden which won Gold and Best Artisan Garden.  According to the RHS website the garden was ‘inspired by the fable of Togenkyo, a place of beautiful scenery that can help people to forget their troubles and strife, but that once visited cannot be revisited.’  Although I definitely come to Chelsea for a ‘flower fix’ there was something incredibly beautiful and serene about this garden, which was almost entirely foliage and textures:


I also loved the Gold winning, DialaFlight ‘Potter’s Garden’ which includes a fabulous brick kiln together with mad, cottage-style planting, supposed to evoke a garden abandoned on the break out of war in 1914.  The garden was designed by ‘Nature Redesigned’.IMG_2508

From the Fresh Gardens, the ‘Reachout’ Gold Winning garden, designed by John Everiss, was incredibly powerful, and, of all the gardens, gave the most emphatic message.  However, in some ways the success of the message made the garden quite uncomfortable to look at and whilst  I admired it enormously, I struggled to like it.


The fresh garden I did like was the Silver Gilt winning ‘Wellchild’ garden designed by Olivia Kirk which was created to ‘highlight the important role gardens and outside spaces play in supporting seriously ill children and young people‘.  Happily, after the show, the garden is being re-located to The Brook Special Primary School in Tottenham, London.

Whilst the sculpture in the ‘Reachout’ garden above was almost distressing, the one here, by Caro Sweet, was totally heartwarming.


On to the show gardens.  Whilst I’ve been to Chelsea at least twenty times, this year for the first time I’d had time to watch quite a lot of the BBC coverage and what surprised me about all the gardens was how small they were.  Clearly they’re no smaller than any other year, but for some reason watching them on TV had given an impression of size that just isn’t justified.  Interesting.  Is this the same phenomenon which puts ’20 pounds’ on actresses?

Coming from the main entrance, the first garden was Cleve West’s Gold winning M&G Investments garden.  I actually liked it less in real life than I had on TV.  Whilst I did like the blue and white planting around the sunken central fountain, the planting at the front of the garden although horticulturally more interesting, I found rather bitty.  Sorry Cleve!


The garden that did win Best Show Garden was the Laurent Perrier, Luciano Giubbilei designed garden. which had been my favourite from the TV coverage, however,IMG_2537

in real life I preferred the elegance of the Gold winning Telegraph garden by Del Buono Gazerwitz.  Tim Richardson wrote in the Saturday Telegraph gardening section before the show ‘some may wonder whether this design, with its low domes of box balls set in a lawn, will be too understated to win outright’.  Sadly Tim was right, it didn’t win outright, but its understatement was a significant part of its success.  I loved it.IMG_2525


I particularly liked the combination of the popping blue anchusa and the euphorbias and fennel.IMG_2529

Another garden I admired was the ‘Garden for First Touch at St George’s’ built on the rock bank site.  This was a garden ‘inspired by the strength and determination shown by premature babies and their families on their journeys, which can be long and difficult’.

I particularly liked the steps which were so much more effective, interesting and ‘difficult’ being asymmetric.IMG_2562

By this stage, however, I was getting a little weary of the blue, purple and white palette that seemed to feature in all of the gardens, so it came as a huge joy to come across the Silver Gilt winning ‘Positively Stoke’ garden.   And whilst I wasn’t entirely sure about the design, I adored the superabundant ‘bruised’ palette of the planting.  Now here was my proper show garden ‘flower fix.





The only colour not seen anywhere was orange.  Thankfully this young lady obliged.IMG_2545

Time to head to the marquee……



Honeywort worrywart


The first time I saw Cerinthe major purpurescens must have been fifteen or so years ago in the garden of the fabulous garden photographer Andrew Lawson, which was open for the NGS. 

It was growing in a terracotta pot against the wall of the house, and had a sign saying ‘shrimp plant’ .  It was creating quite a stir, and I remember thinking I had never seen anything quite like it.

Fast forward fifteen years and I’m delighted to say I have numerous Cerinthe plants here which have survived the winter and as a consequence are bigger and better than they’ve ever been before.  However, what’s intriguing me, is why are they so different?

I believe I’ve sown seeds of (just) Cerinthe major purpurescens and yet I would suggest these three self sown plants of mine are quite different. 

In a quest for enlightenment, I found myself lost in The Plant List, “a working list of all plant species,” for some considerable time.  The Plant List suggests there are 65 plants listed under Cerinthe, but what’s intriguing is how many are “synonyms”, “unresolved” and some even “illegitimate” (shocking!)

Unfortunately The Plant List doesn’t provide photos, but Google imaging the six “accepted” Cerinthe plant names gives

Cerinthe glabra Mill (photo

Cerinthe Minor (photo

Cerinthe palaestina Eig & Sam  (photo

 Cerinthe retorta (Photo

Cerinthe Tristis, which I couldn’t find a photo for, and lastly

Cerinthe major

Clearly mine match none of the photos above, so does that mean mine are all Cerinthe major, but some more purpurescens than others?  And how can there be such variety when they can’t have crossed with anything else because i don’t have any other Cerinthes?  And how, when the slightest differentiation between (say) snowdrop markings can elicit significant excitement and a whole new name, can I have really quite fundamentally different coloured plants, still called the same thing?

Or are there bigger things to worry about?  I think I know the answer to that one, so I’ll stop now.

In a vase on Monday – purple circle


Having found Rambling in the Garden’s lovely blog, I thought I’d join in on “In a vase on Monday”.  I can’t say my floristry skills are up to much, but I do love my garden flowers and like the idea of trying to be a bit more creative with them, so please bear with my amateurish efforts!

Today’s vase is actually a series of little milk bottles joined together and is probably my favourite (and easiest) vase as it doesn’t demand long stems.


The plants here are Cerinthe major purpurescens, Scabious Kingfisher Blue, Stocks and the green is actually lemon balm not mint.  I like the mint as tea, so the lemon balm is easier to sacrifice.IMG_2428

The vase is pictured on our outside table where it’s been all weekend and I love the  sweet scent from the stocks when I’m sitting there.  I have read that you shouldn’t have scented flowers where you eat, but I disagree – I’m all for scented flowers everywhere.  Roll on the sweet peas….

Anyone for Badminton?

IMG_2375This was my first NGS visit of the year, and my first time to this garden, and whilst I always travel hopefully, I do worry I’ll be disappointed (particularly with the mother in law in tow….)

Not a chance!  Although a handout given on entry suggested they’d suffered “two bad winters and some illness” and “many changes have had to be made due to flooding and loss of trees” I thought the garden was glorious.  Today was hot and sunny and it was delightful to lose yourself in an acre of garden which actually had quite a lot of shade, thanks to some unusual shrubs and trees.

The area that I particularly liked was the planting around the stream, fabulous Viburnum,IMG_2346

some lovely irisesIMG_2354

stunning fernsIMG_2360

and a lot of vertical planting.  There were many structures with climbers including Clematis and a Schisandra Rudiflora, but I particularly like this very pale Wisteria arch.IMG_2396

I couldn’t resist this shot of the ‘resting’ wheelbarrows, but it was also to try to show the white Clematis Montana which has clambered right across the garage roof.IMG_2377

And lastly, what is this lovely blue plant which was growing in the hedgerow as we approached the garden?  Both flowers and leaves look rather like Pulmonaria, but it’s massive – must be over 4ft tall.  Any ideas? IMG_2403

With many thanks to Mr and Mrs Montrose for generously sharing their lovely garden.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May

IMG_2303 (2)Eleagnus ‘Quicksilver‘ with (I think) Green Orb-Weaver spider.  I had never noticed the flowers before, so thank you GBBD for making me look!

Last month I said was all about the tulips, and whilst every other tulip is long gone, my gorgeous Angeliques are still flowering, so I think they deserve a final curtain call.


Also in pots (as well as those on the barrow) I’ve got lots of pelargoniums and maguerites.


I’ve also taken a couple of photos of flowers on the succulents,

but the big news has to be the number of roses coming into bloom.  These three were inherited, so I’m afraid I don’t know the names,

but these were all planted by me in the last three or four years, and they’re finally starting to look properly established – Madame Gregoire Staechelin


Rosa Korizont


and Rosa St Swithun


This Veronica prostrata is another plant that looks much more settled than it did last year.IMG_2311

I love the colour of this Potentilla, I think it’s Potentilla nepalensis ‘ShogranIMG_2262

The Cerinthes are just getting better and better, here with Erysmum ‘Winter Orchid’IMG_2294

However, I’m not entirely sure about this Clematis, Josephine, I think she may be a little too showy for my likingIMG_2278

On a rather more subdued note, a dark Aquilegia with Nectoscordum siculum.  I’m not convinced about the Nectoscordum either, but for the opposite reason – I’m not sure it’s showy enough – but it’s so perennial I don’t have the heart to rip it out.IMG_2327

I certainly wouldn’t want to be without my Allium Purple SensationsIMG_2307 (2)

But to finish, my first sweet pea – the Tangier Pea, Lathyrus tingitanus.  which I wrote about in January.  How the year’s flying by…


With thanks again to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting GBBD.


The good, the bad and the companionable

IMG_2238(This picture has nothing to do with the post, I just took it today and wanted to share!)

In April’s End of Month View, I said “At the moment the seedlings would easily fill a plot ten times this size, so some difficult decisions will need to be made (or I need to find more space somewhere…)“.

Amazingly, the ‘good’ is that a some extra space has been lent to me by my lovely neighbours, J&A.  The area is 3.4m x 2.5m and the soil is wonderfully weed free, just a little stony.

Sunday was planting day, and I strolled up the road with my wheelbarrow full of the first wave of planting:


Some time (and a couple of rain showers) later, my little plot was full up with Helianthus ‘Claret’, Helianthus ‘Valentine’ (just one, the slugs got the rest), Cleome ‘Violet Queen’, Amaranthus Viridis, Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, Cosmos ‘Psyche White’, Ammi visnaga, Antirrhinum ‘White Giant’, Antirrhinum ‘Liberty Classic Crimson’, Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ and Malope.

Not much to see – and I have to say some of the plants were looking a little shocked by the move, but hopefully they’ll settle in quickly.  I’m a bit concerned I’ve planted them too close together, but I expect you’ll understand when you read about the ‘bad’.


So I’m afraid the ‘bad’ is very closely related.  Here’s the wheelbarrow I wheeled home.  Not exactly devoid of seedlings and I haven’t even mentioned the Molucella, Bupleurum, Nicotiana, Tithonia, Cerinthe, Calendula….  Where are they all going to go?


But to finish, ‘the companionable’.  The plot is right next to J&A’s chicken run and the girls (and boy) did a lovely job of keeping me company with their clucking and cooing.  Shame this one seems to be suffering from an identity crisis.

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