Sunday, 5 July 2015

The start of summer

May is a month of promise - it has its own worthy stars, but it is really just the warm-up act for the big performance that begins in June and continues through July and August. So many plants have sprung into flower and lush growth that it is hard to single any of them out. The garden has now begun to work as a whole tapestry of colours, shapes and textures and bare earth can no longer be seen.
 Zantedeschia (Arum lily) surrounded by campanula

Gillenia trifoliata, a perennial that looks like a loose shrub and likes part shade

Hosta Orange Marmalade

This Meconopsis will die once it has finished flowering, but will produce many seeds

The flower buds of Tropaeolum speciosum (flame flower)

Primula Capitata

Roscoea cautleyoides

Seed heads can be just as interesting as flowers, and generally much longer lasting. This is Pulsatilla vulgaris (pasque flower), which has purple flowers in spring.

Equisetum Hymale with a self-sown March orchid 
Epipactis gigantea, a hardy orchid

This year our climbing roses have put on a fantastic show that started mid-June and still continues.  We prefer the more delicate multi-headed roses with numerous small flowers. Unfortunately the scent is also more delicate than some of the large-flowered roses, but once the plant is established and producing lots of blooms the scent floats on the air.
Rosa Francis E Lester, which has been trained up the apple tree
Rosa Wedding Day has flowers that emerge yellow, then become white and then age to pale pink

Most of our roses are climbers or ramblers. They could be left to their own devices, but Pete spends a lot of time pruning and training horizontal stems. We don't have the space to let them roam free and it also encourages more blooms on new vertical shoots.
Rosa Rambling Rector

Rosa Veilchenblau
In April we planted a newly created bed inspired by a visit to Great Dixter. As an experiment we used fewer different types of plants, but repeated them in an ad hoc fashion through the bed. The bed is still developing, but rather than creating a riot (definition: an impressively large or varied display of something), we seem to have created a rave (a gathering on land in the open air which by reason of its loudness and duration is likely to cause serious distress to the inhabitants of the locality: Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994).
Lupin Masterpiece, white Delphiniums and Lysimachia beaujolais in the new bed 

As soon as the weather cools down slightly we will move some of the plants to ease the congestion, otherwise we may have fatalities. In autumn we will decide what worked and what didn't and redesign the planting for next year.

Experimenting is one of the joys of gardening, followed by much cogitation and later editing. We have created a high maintenance garden because we love the process of gardening.

Our current to-do list

1. Ordering spring bulbs for autumn planting - autumn seems far away, but to make sure that I get my choice of bulbs the orders need to be placed soon. It's also great fun trying to design mixed pots of tulips for the patio.

2. Collecting seed - as plants finish and produce seed I'm collecting them in paper envelopes and allowing them to dry out. Most of these I will sow in autumn or spring.

3. Planting out tender plants - I grow Ricinus (caster oil plant) each year from seed for their fabulous purply leaves and bright red spiky flowers. They grow incredibly quickly once the weather warms up.

4. Feeding - I try to give a liquid feed to all our large fruit and flower pots each week. I also find that day lilies and agapanthus do well with a liquid feed once a fortnight. As the alliums are finishing we will give the whole bed a feed using a hose attachment to help the bulbs store up food for next year.

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