22 May, 2018, Preparing for my trip to Mustique

It is six weeks since my hip operation, and life is improving. I am still not meant to bend down and that makes dead heading tulips impossible. I am longing to be able to do some gardening, but at least I can watch everything coming out. James is not able to come with me to Mustique as he has a case in Hong Kong, which is a shame. Goodness knows what clothes I will take as most of my summer things are in Corfu. Yesterday morning we had a group who had just got off a plane from the States, and they were a lot of fun. Americans are so enthusiastic, unlike the English who criticise our Spanish bluebells. Someone has e mailed about whether we would do a wedding, and the answer is No, though I have offered one to Dawn who works for me. She says her friends are too rough!

My Peonies are out in the paddock, and my huge three Julia Rose are flowering, with marvellous foliage and needing no support. They are a cross between a tree peony and an ordinary peony , and when I bought them were very expensive, £50 each, but flowered very quickly, in a couple of years. Their name is an Intersectional peony, or an Itoh peony. This week is Chelsea Flower Show week, but I cant go though I got tickets, never mind there is always next year. It is pretty good on the television, and Adam Frost is commentating a lot who came to see us on Gardeners World last year.

The one Lime tree that is left looks a lot better than the three that were there before. The Cornus Controversa has already got larger without having the lime trees swallowing it up. The two Sorbus Joseph Rock look a lot better than last year, bushier and plenty of flowers on. Sorbus Vilmorinii I cant enthuse about so much, too much dead wood. In the paddock Magnolia Sieboldii is covered in flowers, and grown quite a lot. Neil and Polly together are wiring the front of the house for our new wisterias, wisteria Brachybotrys Okayama, as we have put in two of them. I have only just remembered that monday is a Bank Holiday, and hopefully James will stay over.

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19th May, Harry and Meghan wedding, and a beautiful day

We have bought a new clematis called Prince William from Taylors Clematis, and it has gone where the Azara Microphylla Variegata has been taken out. The removal of the ivy has let in such a lot of light that plants are going to thrive instead of looking terrible. The placing of the pots in the curve where you come in from the blue gates, is better. For years I have made the mistake of having too small a pots, and this time we have two beautiful Italian Terracotta pots, and a huge one, with small ones from Whichford in front of them, mustard yellow and green. Italian Terracotta are the best place for pots, at least Polly and I think that, though you must take them in the Winter. In one large one I have an Astelia, taken back from my friend Karen Abel Smith, and in the very large one 3 dahlias. The small ones have been planted up with Salvias, one of them Hannah which is pink and orange. Rather like Ferns, it has taken me ages to like Salvias though I prefer them in pots rather than in my borders. Having them in borders, I find their flowers are too small on the whole. At the moment I am cutting the stalks off the dead tulips, leaving on the leaves which is what Christopher Lloyd said to do. Yesterday was the wedding day of Prince Harry and Meghan, and the whole thing was pretty spectacular and moving. Polly and I went on Thursday to Avondale Nursery,

and bought a lot of plants. Goodness knows what I will do when he retires in a years time. We seem to have a lot of people coming next week, and I have asked Sybylle to lunch on next Sunday. I love her coming as she always makes such funny remarks, totally to the point. She then reminds me that it is my garden.

Last night I saw the rabbit sitting motionless in the middle of the lawn, and urged James to get his gun out. He refused. And said he was not a good shot anymore!

I tried to urge the dogs on to it, with total failure, I dont think they know what a rabbit is. I shall have to go back to Neil, who is usually totally dependable. I will watch out for it tonight.

.a,l

10th May, Spring is still continuing with lovely weather

I was up early this morning, and down in the paddock looking at the peonies. The magnolia Lilliflora Nigra is in full flower, and is now a very good shape with a lot of blossom on. The tulips are nearly over, and unfortunately there is a group coming to see the garden tomorrow hoping to see the tulips and there is not very many left. We. Have got the lovely weather back, though not so hot, and I hope Thomas is coming to see me tomorrow but he has just rung to say he has been burgled in Acton with the door kicked in. Everything has come into leaf, including the Cotinus Flame, and Camassias are all flowering, except the pale cream one, the best being Electra which is a very pale blue one. Yesterday Philip came to see me, and Caro d’Erlanger who had seen my same Greek doctor at the Lister, who told her that her pain control was not good enough. Polly is working hard on weeding the Autumn Border, which is looking a lot more exciting without the roses, and some more Monardas. These are my current favourites, along with peonies, which is also the favourite of Meghan. Everyone is talking about the wedding, and agog to see her wedding dress. One of the reasons for my love for monardas is the smell, and the colour.

Saturday, and people round the garden for the first time, and still able to pick tulips,

We had a group from Sweden sent from Broughton Grange, head gardener Andrew, they clapped at the beginning of Polly’s speech, and as she pointed out should have clapped at the end as they has not yet seen the garden. At the end of going round it poured with rain, but they adored it, and talked about coming back next year. What a difference it makes to all of us if they like it, as a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. The good weather has come back, and it is all looking beautiful, Polly is weeding and sorting out the Autumn Border. We have made a few changes there, taken out the roses, and put in some more herbaceous perennials, monardas, rudbeckias, and anemone whirlwind. My new favourite plant is monardas, the colours and the smell when you touch it. James says the garden is finished, but he.is quite wrong, what garden is ever finished. Polly and I want to go to Avondale again, but Thomas is coming down tomorrow, so I see it waiting for a bit. All the peonies are starting to flower, and E Modi is especially beautiful, given me by Karen Abel Smith. Next weekend we have the Royal Wedding, which we are all agog about, especially the wedding dress. Megan says her favourite is peonies. I wish we could get rid of our mixi rabbit.

Polly and I have walked round the garden together discussing what tulips to order for next year. Now is the time to do it, and we often do not do it at the right time, we leave it too late. Kniphofia Painted Lady is only just coming up in the main border.

8th May, Pettifers in the early Spring, followed by more photographs early in the morning the next day.

The Triumphal Arch and the Gents Loos are finished, though Polly and I agree we hardly ever get any men to come round the garden! Why? We are having Dan Hinckley later on this year! Today is another idyllic day, whether it will last is another matter. The tulips are hanging on, I cant think how, and the new Wisteria is flowering out the front, with a really lovely scent. This Saturday, we have our first two groups, Swedish, and the Oxfordshire Arts Fund. This year seems to be our best tulip year, and I am very pleased with it, the colour combinations are good. We have some nice ones out the front, called Eyecatcher, which are Viridiflora. A lot of the best ones seem to be Viridiflora. You should look them up on line, and they flower a long time. The Malus Transitoria are at their best in the paddock, and Malus Hupehensis are beginning to flower, with a slightly larger flower. The camassias and the pheasant eye narcissus are all at their best.

8th May, Pettifers in the early Spring

The Triumphal Arch and the Gents Loos are finished, though Polly and I agree we hardly ever get any men to come round the garden! Why? We are having Dan Hinckley later on this year! Today is another idyllic day, whether it will last is another matter. The tulips are hanging on, I cant think how, and the new Wisteria is flowering out the front, with a really lovely scent. This Saturday, we have our first two groups, Swedish, and the Oxfordshire Arts Fund. This year seems to be our best tulip year, and I am very pleased with it, the colour combinations are good. We have some nice ones out the front, called Eyecatcher, which are Viridiflora. A lot of the best ones seem to be Viridiflora. You should look them up on line, and they flower a long time. The Malus Transitoria are at their best in the paddock, and Malus Hupehensis are beginning to flower, with a slightly larger flower. The camassias and the pheasant eye narcissus are all at their best.