28 June, 2013

It is a month since I have updated this blog, but we have been really busy with visitors. We have the new puppy, called Pertemba, who is adorable and very good so far. He and Tensing play all day long. We have two failures in the garden, our delphiniums and our eremurus. We had 12 flower spikes on the eremurus but only 6 flowers have actually opened. Goodness knows what happened. They are out the front of the house, where we have not got many snails. The delphinium Rosemary Brock were new in this year, we have lost one, and the other 2 have hardly grown at all. What do I do wrong? Sibyll of Pam and Sibyll, the Sissinghurst gardeners, when asked by me what to do when something like this happened, said to concentrate on the things that were doing well. Polly has just reminded me that our pink dictamnus has vanished as well, grazed to the ground by snails, after 15 years with no trouble.

All in all Polly and I are thrilled with the garden. Probably due to all the rain last year the growth is phenomenal, and it is all very lush. Everything that we had divided 2 years ago has taken well, and we are pleased with all the different foliages. We still make mistakes of planting the same type foliage next to each other. I have just walked round the garden thinking in my head of the changes that we are going to make in the autumn. The veronicastrums are just coming into flower, and the roses starting to slowly open. The block planting of rosa mutabilis out the front of the house is a great success. We have underplanted it with various erysimums, apricot twist, and parrishes, which pick up the colour of the rose. Why do I find the front border so difficult, probably because it is very small compared to my other borders. Apricot Twist came from Derry Watkins who was lecturing at Whichford Pottery. We are finally going to get rid of persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’, which is a thug, even though it looks pretty early on. It is in the allium and thalictrum border, and in its place are going to put two Rosa William Shakespeare 2000 which comes from David Austin.

The Gustav Klimt border is full of promise. Everything is growing well, and we have added calamagrostis acutiflora ‘overdam’. It is flowering next to astrantia Roma at the moment, and I can only describe it as having silver plumes, with pinkish leaves. The two show each other off beautifully. There the delphinium Cassius is huge and doing what it should do unlike Rosemary Brock. In a way it is more exciting to succeed with something that is difficult. We have taken a lot of the lower branches off malus hupehensis which backs the border, and it is definitely letting a lot more light in. Polly is clippiing what we call the ‘soldiers’ at the moment, and I can hear the electric saw going. Tomorrow Neil is coming over to cut the long grass on the crocus lawn and the Botticelli meadow. This is one of the biggest jobs in the garden. By this stage I like it all cut down the bottom because then you can see the Autumn Border properly which is looking very lush. That is the biggest border that we have got and looks amazing when it is all in flower. I don’t really understand why we do not have more visitors in the autumn as the garden is really looking its best. Yesterday we had a charming and very attractive Spanish garden architect with his wife and small children. His gardens looked very inspirational on his web site, and he was helpful to Polly as to what I should do in Corfu. Plant small, water for the first 2 years, and then let them struggle. We have been planting some things much too big I know. He loved our phillyrea, and the shape of it, he said digitalis were never used in Spain, and we have a lot of rather good ones, davisiana (soft yellow), ferruginea, and parviflora. Once you have got them they seed quite happily.

June – Plant of the Month

Late! Late! I know. June is garden visiting month because the roses are out – they weren’t. Some times it feels like we are pouring more tea than we are pulling weeds. To make up for our tardiness on the blog we have 3 plants of the month. All valerians.
Valeriana pyrenaica was a star this year at Chelsea where it was threaded through a border by Chris Beardshaw. We have it in the Burgundy Border where its pretty pinkness lightens the density of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’. We were warned it would seed incontinently. It hasn’t and we have had to scrabble around trying to find seedlings in an effort to bulk up our supply. It has a certain naturalness that fits in with the more structured shape of the allium. I’ve seen it growing in complete shade with Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ and ferns. It seems to take most conditions.
Valeriana wallichii (now called jatamansi apparently) almost caused a tiff when a visitor refused to believe it wasn’t an umbellifier. It looks like a very neat cow parsley but flowers for months and has a lovely scent. We have it in the Fern Cottage border. This is a border that pretends to be shady and moist but is actually quite dry and in half sun. The valerian is in the shadier half surrounded by self seeded Millium effusum ‘Aurea’ and epimediums.
A plant that should be the star of May didn’t really kick off until a few weeks ago. Valeriana phu ‘Aurea’ . It looks like a white Verbena bonariensis. Its real selling point is its yellow foliage in the spring.

As an aside, yesterdays visitor, Miguel Urquijo, has a wonderful collection of photographs on flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudbekio. The photos taken of a country courtyard are of a garden in Toledo, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Maybe next May. But what if I get the week wrong? What if the plants aren’t performing? As Miguel told me, all the plants this year were LATE!

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