The importance of flowers looking beautiful at all stages

At this time of year two flowers immediately come to mind. Agapanthus and Gladiolus papilio ruby are my favourites. . I am looking at the buds of Agapanthus Windsor Grey in the Burgundy border, and they are so chunky and interesting before they open out, with long stems reaching up above the leaves. When they start opening they are equally attractive and somehow this all prolongs the season of interest. Gladiolus papilio ruby is beautiful at every stage. The way the stem curves over and then gently opens up piece by piece. Both these plants flower roughly at the same time, and we are half way through July, so you have plenty of time to examine them. The garden looks beautiful, but if you are not a gardener you have no idea of the work that goes on behind the scenes. I am now talking about Polly, who has been dead heading, watering, the pots need watering almost every day, it is a 24 hour job. I have not been much help to her this year but I can get about a lot bettter now.

We had some charming Americans round the garden last Saturday. Why are Americans so charming – it is because they are appreciative and enthusiastic, with very good manners. Frankly they must have been exhausted as they had been three hours traipsing round Stowe. I also always find it a pity when people come round this garden in the middle of the day when the light is the most harsh. Sometimes I think about a garden that a lot depends on the light, and if it is soft you go away with completely different feelings.

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