Monthly Archives: June 2016

End of month view – June 2016


What with my Northumberland jaunt, last weekend’s party and working in London every week, I’ve calculated that I’ve spent only ten whole days chez Duver Diary during June (and four of those working) and, whilst certain wonderful things carry on despite my neglect (roses, lavender, self seeded this and that) I do have a definite sense of the garden getting away from me.  If you look closely in the photo below, for example, you’ll see convolvulus growing up rosebay willow herb, surrounded by a fringe of couch grass.  So please don’t!


Taking a circuit round the garden from this point takes us first to the troughs.  These still have the very leggy Matthiola incana that I can’t bring myself to bin, but these have now been joined by seedlings of the (slightly shorter than ‘Purity’) white Cosmos, Cosmos ‘Sonata White’  and Salvia horminum ‘Oxford Blue.’  I’m hoping it’s going to fill out into a wall of blue and white, but it’s very early days and I do think this trough, being south facing and metal, does suffer if the weather’s warm (some chance!).  And no, I didn’t line the front panel with polysterene as you’re apparently supposed to. IMG_1105

On to the veg patch and the most obvious ‘crop’ below is the Sweet Peas, definitely not edible!  Otherwise, from front to back, I have (under fleece) Purple Sprouting Broccoli ‘Early Purple Sprouting’,  and Cavolo nero ‘Black Magic’, and then Chard ‘Pink Flamingo’, Mange tout ‘Shiraz’, Dwarf French bean ‘Safari’ and Runner Bean ‘Lady Di’.  And running along the front edge (right of photo) Courgettes ‘El Greco’ and ‘Gold Rush’.  I think these are all new varieties to me except ‘Lady Di’ and ‘Goldrush’ so it will be interesting to see how they all do – and how they all taste.

On the left, out of site, in the highest raised bed, I planted Squash ‘Sweet Dumpling’.  This bed isn’t easy, as whatever’s there has to compete with the bay trees which were there first and obviously suck out lots of water.  I thought planting upturned bottles together with each plant and watering directly to the roots should solve this problem.  I was a little worried that I only had one plastic bottle kicking about and so was going to have to go on a San Pelligrino binge, but no!  Slugs ate all but one plant, so turns out my single bottle will be sufficient…

Meanwhile, if anyone has any bright ideas as to what veg would be happy in a very dry, south facing raised bed, please let me know, because there’s plenty of space now!IMG_1106

In front of the main veg patch is a smaller bed holding strawberries and rhubarb.  I planted out some Agapanthus I’d grown from seed along the back wall last year as I thought they’d enjoy a good cook against the south facing wall.  And look – over a dozen flower heads.  So exciting!


The Swing Beds definitely need a sort out.  Since their creation in 2011 it’s taken some time for them to fill up, but now, all of a sudden, I feel they’ve got rather unbalanced, with certain thugs taking over at the expenses of other things.  I definitely have too much of the pink geranium along the front, so I need to thin that out.  And then I also have a number of annuals I’ve grown from seed which need to be slotted in.

I live in hope that this weekend might provide time for a BIG SORT OUT, but we’ll see…IMG_1131


The grass bed has been completely dug over and emptied (apart from the Stipa) and has also been planted with annuals.  I’ve taken inspiration for the first year we were here, when I simply planted Cosmos in this bed.  This year I’ve included Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Fizzy White’ but have added Ammi visnaga ‘Green Mist’ to the mix.  I’m hoping for a white/green froth to echo the cow parsley in the field opposite.  We’ll see.

And in the interim, I’ve planted a few marigolds I had kicking around along the front edge.IMG_1111

I have been quite busy planting up pots post the big bulb throw out, but the one below is a new one, one of a matching pair given as a gift from my sister.  The concrete post is by the old (empty) chicken shed and the metal chicken normally sits on it but, as she’s not attached, she spends most of her time blown onto the ground.  I think she looks rather more settled amongst the pelargoniums and ipomaea!IMG_1110

In the Mid Century bed the Rosa ‘Falstaff’ is getting established on the obelisk, but you might remember I had good success with Rhodochiton atrosanguineus here last year, and I have now also planted some seedlings to see if they’ll cohabit with the rose.IMG_1112

There are a couple of pleasing combinations here – Dahlia ‘La Recoleta’ together with Dianthus ‘Sooty’


and Digitalis ‘Mertonensis’ with (rather flopped) Rosa ‘Jubilee Celebration.’   (I do wish ‘Mertonensis’ was taller – I’d have it everywhere)IMG_1114

On the other side of the garden the Oak Bed has now developed into a wall of shrubbery – the Cercis in particular has really filled out this year.IMG_1128

Closer to the house the Bronze Bed, new last year, is also exhibiting a rather floppy rose – Rosa ‘Pat Austin’.  I’m sure she wasn’t this tall last year and I pruned her pretty hard.


She may be a rather ungainly girl, but she’s certainly pretty.IMG_1127

In the greenhouse I’ve finally planted out my tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines, but I couldn’t bear to pull out the Sweet Peas as they’re still flowering really well, so the toms have been relegated to each end of the bed.  IMG_1123

There are still a few seedlings kicking around inside the greenhouse – see below a third wave of Sweet Peas – but that is nothing


….compared to all this lot outside!  Roll on the weekend….IMG_1120

With many thanks to Helen at the Patient Gardener for hosting our End of Month views.

In a vase on Monday – and now one for a lady


In contrast to last’s week’s vase, this one was for a female host, and one I’d never met.  She and her husband had invited the OH and me to join them at their golf club in Hampshire for their 125 year anniversary celebrations and were then putting us up overnight.  It seemed to me this called for the big guns, and here they are – gorgeous girly, blousy Sarah Bernhardt peonies.IMG_1095

These were joined by fresh green foliage of Euphorbia and mint,IMG_1097

as well as an inherited rose (in the background), Verbena bonariensis,IMG_1098

yet more Winter Sun sweet peas from the greenhouseIMG_1096

and spires of Veronica.IMG_1099

I’m delighted to say that the event, our hosts and the bouquet’s reception were fabulous! You really can’t go wrong with home grown flowers.IMG_1100

With many thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this lovely meme.

Whalton Manor, an unexpected delight


Whalton Manor is a 17th century house with a beautiful three-acre garden which I discovered by complete chance, reading a gardens article in a Northumberland tourism magazine in our hotel room.

The garden only opens by appointment so I immediately emailed to see if there was any chance of a visit.  Amazingly, within 24 hours, Penny, the owner, had phoned from her holiday to confirm there would be someone in the house, and so, yes, I could come!

Sadly the weather was still poor, but the garden certainly wasn’t.  And to make it even more special, I was given a lovely tour by Sue, one of the (part time) gardeners,which made it even more special.

The link with the previous Lindisfarne post is that Lutyens and Jekyll spent time at Whalton Manor during the time they were working at the castle.  Lutyens designed the summerhouse, fondly known by the family as ‘Caesar’s Palace.’  It’s used now for weddings and there are some gorgeous photos of sunny garden nuptials on the website.IMG_1021IMG_1046

The majority of the garden is behind the manor, but both the wisteria (top) and this stunning hosta bed were in front.IMG_1020

Behind the house were numerous sweeping beds with soft coloured planting, all contained and enhanced by beautiful walls and structures.IMG_1022IMG_1027IMG_1029IMG_1030IMG_1051

Our route took us past this intriguing gate.  Apparently many visitors discuss its ‘Lutyens credentials’, but it was in fact crafted from old lift panels under the instruction of the current owner’s father!



Into the veg area there was a good sized greenhouse, but not a tomato to be seen.  Instead, it was absolutely crammed with vibrant pelargoniums.  It came as quite a shock after all the misty, muted loveliness outside, but I thought it was fabulous and it has inspired me to keep some of my pelargoniums grouped in the greenhouse like this.



Back outside, a couple of particular plants caught my eye – this beautiful soft blue Iris,IMG_1042

and these voluptuous ferns fronting gorgeous slates and stones.IMG_1045

So thank you, both Penny and Sue, for a wonderful treat.  I hope one day I’ll make it back in the sunshine.IMG_1033

Lindisfarne Castle – another bucket list tick


Lindisfarne Castle was our penultimate Northumberland destination.  I was particularly inspired to visit having seen it from the train this time last year whilst uni visiting with my daughter.  Sadly, whereas last year the weather was fine and the views astounding, this year June brought gloom, rain and chill.  And we could barely see the sea (about 50 feet away) let alone the Farne Islands off the coast.

The castle was discovered, empty and neglected, by Edward Hudson (founder of Country Life magazine) in 1901.  He fell in love with it and hired Edward Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to bring it back to life.

After an fascinating tour around the castle itself, we left in search of the garden, which was in no way obvious.  I assume it was placed back behind the the castle to protect it from storms off the sea, but I was surprised at how completely separate it was, until I read that it had originally been a vegetable garden created to provide food for soldiers living in the castle.IMG_1009

Jekyll’s contribution was to redesign the garden to include hardy annuals, colourful perennials and heritage vegetables to (according to the NT website) “provide a riot of colour in the summer and a leafy, sheltered oasis all year round”.


An information board showed the design:IMG_1005

In the plan above the silver edging is provided by Stachys, but this has now been replaced by Artemesia which certainly provided some light in the gloom.IMG_1003IMG_1008

Interesting to see Delphiniums in bloom, which hadn’t been at Alnwick.IMG_1004

Interesting too to see this way of training Broad Beans.  Shame I didn’t remember when I was staking my supposedly self supporting ‘Sutton Dwarfs’ earlier today.   I think this might have been a whole lot easier.IMG_1010

And to finish, another photo from the board.  Apparently this is how it can look.  Huh!IMG_1006

In a vase on Monday – Lauren and friends


Today’s vase was created to give as a gift to a male host so I thought I’d better steer clear of soft pinks and peaches, and decided to go with a deep plum theme, livened up by Euphorbia polychroma.

I cut two plants for the first time –   Lysmachia atropurpurea, to provide vertical accents, and the lovely, silky Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s Grape.’  I seared their stems in boiling water but to be honest I’m not sure how long they’ll last.  I really must cut some for home to find out! IMG_1089

To these I added some Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ (it looked darker in real life)IMG_1090

and my lovely, new, neat, dark La Recoleta dahlias.IMG_1088

It seemed to be well received, but the matching bottle of wine was probably his preference!IMG_1092

With thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, who hosts this lovely meme.

Cragside, could make a girl change her mind…


…about rhododendrons!

Cragside is a fascinating National Trust property near Rothbury in Northumberland.

It was the home of Lord Armstrong a Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape genius. Trained as a lawyer, he only turned to engineering later and was completely visionary.  The house was the first to be lit by hydroelectricity and is still crammed full of ingenious gadgets such as a water powered piston lift and all 350 light bulbs in the house are lit by a water powered Archimedes screw.

Having enjoyed a fascinating visit to the house, we emerged to some really grim weather. We’d already braved Alnwick in the morning and had got pretty damp then, so the idea of a soggy walk around the grounds really wan’t that appealing.  And then I looked at the information leaflet and realised there was an alternative.  The estate is so comprehensive they have established a one way, six mile long ‘estate carriage drive’ which meanders through the entire 1000 acre estate.  Perfect.  And it was.IMG_0985IMG_0990





Alnwick Gardens, a bucket list tick


I’ve wanted to visit the Alnwick Garden in Northumberland ever since I read about it in the Garden magazine years ago.

In 1997 the garden was completely redesigned by Belgian garden designers Jacques and Peter Wirtz, with the Duchess of Northumberland (who lives in adjoining Alnwick Castle), the driving force behind its creation.  The garden opened to the public in 2001 with a reported development cost of £42 million.

The Grand Cascade, above and below, is the iconic garden feature and is on a truly astonishing scale. IMG_0932IMG_0933



I really loved it.  It takes some vision to come up with a design like this.

Away from structure and green, but adjacent to these smaller pools, was a large circular bed with Narcissi still flowering.  IMG_0934

Through these beautiful gates IMG_0938

and into the ornamental gardenIMG_0940

these tulips confirmed that I’d travelled back in time!IMG_0947

Sadly, many plants already flowering down south were biding their time here.  This arch, smothered with Rosa ‘Fontaine des Loups,’ will be amazing in a couple of weeks, IMG_0941

likewise these PeoniesIMG_0945

and these Delphiniiums.IMG_0951

Luckily there were some blooms to admire including these lovely shaggy poppies,IMG_0965

Anemone ‘Wild Swan’IMG_0966

Meconopsis (ring any bells from my previous post?)IMG_0954

stunning Cornus kousa ‘China Girl’IMG_0957

and Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariessi’.IMG_0955

In 2003 there were further developments to the garden, including a Poison Garden, where we had a fascinating talk about the numerous garden plants which are poisonous.


The garden was created as an educational resource after the Duchess met a mother who had lost her son to heroin addiction.  Hopefully the inclusion of  some rather sad looking Marijuana plants did the job…


As well as the Poison Garden, the 2003 development included the creation of an amazing treehouse, constructed amongst the Lime trees.IMG_0981

As well as a location for coffee and cake (very nice, thank you) there is also a restaurant with a central open fire, which, bearing in mind the grim weather, had been lit, making the whole ‘woody’ interior look very inviting in an Alpine chalet way.IMG_0979b


The whole thing was completely magical, but to finish, something rather less rustic – charming fresh flowers in the main garden loos.  Made me feel like a Duchess 😉IMG_0969

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – June 2016


I’m a day late for GBBD and have again not touched my garden for over a week due to a trip to Northumberland.  It was planned to coincide with picking up our daughter from uni in Durham, but sadly it also coincided with cold, misty, rainy weather, however I expect I’ll still share some garden visits, even if they’re rather grey!

I took these GBBD photos on my return from London this evening and these too are reflecting the rainy weather.  Bearing in mind my recent multiple absences a degree of skillful camera work was also required to avoid capturing large swathes of convolvulus…..

So, despite the rain, June is all about the roses.  My roses aren’t quite in the same league as the wonderful NT garden at Mottisfont I visited a couple of years ago, but I added some new ones last year, so the number is growing.  The top one, by the front gate, has a lovely scent but was inherited so I’m afraid I don’t know its name.

Below, one of the new roses last year, Jubilee Celebration, already a favourite,IMG_1068

later turns into this.IMG_1062

In the same bed are both Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ (looking here rather paler than reality)IMG_1069

and climbing Rosa ‘Falstaff’IMG_1077

Another inherited rose in the Lavender bed is a very similar colour toIMG_1065

this Sarah Bernhardt peony.IMG_1067

On the pergola posts either side of the swing are Rosa ‘St Swithun’IMG_1072

and Rosa ‘Korizont.’IMG_1073

In the Bronze Beds the Pat Austin roses which featured in my last Monday vase, have been joined by self seeded Nasturtium ‘Caribbean Crush’IMG_1060

and this poppy, Papaver nudicale ‘Party Fun’IMG_1058

I’m delighted that another poppy, Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s Grape,’ has reappeared in the Mid Century bed.IMG_1063

Here too the Lysmachia atropurpurea, grown from seed last year, is filling out


and has now been joined by a self seeded Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’.  I’ve grown more Malope from seed this year, but they’re all still sitting in a seed tray in the greenhouse.IMG_1079


The Alliums in the drive bed, Allium ‘Violet Beauty’, haven’t returned well from their introduction last year, but those that did return are looking good now.  Sadly, I’d added some new tulips, also called ‘Violet Beauty’ to join them, but the tulips came and went weeks ago. Back to the drawing board. IMG_1057

And to finish Meconopsis baileyi, a present from the OH for my birthday.  I wonder if I’ll mange to have it blooming this time next year?


With thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens who hosts everyone’s GBBD.