28th July, 2020, the best I have ever seen it

Is it the clear skies, the weather, or the attention to detail? We have done a new stone door out of the drawing room, It is nearly finished, and will be done at the end of this week. This week we are having a few visitors, including the head gardener of Bressingham gardens. We had two hardy plants members who knew everything needless to say, I like the Hardy Planters! The best is the par terre, the colours and the dahlias, a few new ones. I am going to change it for next year and plant some more agapanthus round the edge, I seem to have discovered some very special ones this year, Alan Street from Avon Bulbs, the darkest blue you have ever seen and not too big. Indigo Chimes is amazing, Similar. The Iris Rhapsody in Blue is getting the push. It is too scrappy and short flowering, Arabella Lennox Boyd came to see us a couple of weeks ago, it was like a visit from the Queen, James was made to weed, very unusual. I think I picked up quite a few tips! I am half way through my hip healing, I find my clothes situation tricky, and very soon I am going to have to go to my London hairdresser! An attempt at trimming it myself has been an unmitigated failure!









2 June, 2020, A Spring that goes on and on

Being in the middle of a lock down is not so bad when you have cloudless skies and endless sun. Because of the lack of airplanes and cars everything is pencil sharp, in fact you have never seen such beauty. I wonder how different everything will be when this changes.. We are all becoming used to watering, and brown lawns. I prefer watering with full cans than sprinkling, The roses started flowering a lot earlier than usual, but they all look very healthy, and the colours are lovely. We have a new rose called Keith Vaughan which is very pretty, exceptional in fact, and is going to go up the back of the house, This flowers twice, which is what almost all of my roses do. This is not a David Austin for a change.

We have gone through the Allium period, Purple Sensation, Mount Everest, Globemaster, and at the moment are engaged in pulling them out as I always feel they look funereal when they are going over. There is a later Allium called Firmanent, which flowers in June and is darker, A rather pretty little one is called Unifolium, soft pink and more delicate. Thomas and Nicholas are going to come and see us next week for the day, with Georgia, Thomas’s girlfriend. I am so looking forward to it. I miss the family a lot, and hope we will see Dominic and Hetty soon, with their burgeoning family. Their latest addition is Phoebe, aged one, already a temptress.

All the beds are filling up quite fast, and some of the colour schemes are pleasing. The Cayeux Irises are very tempting and a couple more are arriving in June, and I have to make up my mind whether to indulge n any more. The new planting in the front garden I am pleased with, It is James’ responsibility, and Malus Everest is springing out in every direction, The planting is similar to the far end, which gives a sense of continuity. We went to have a swim with my friend Philip Astley Jones, not too cold but perfect. It reminds me of our trip to Jaipur a few years ago because there is an Indian pavilion hung with Indian fabrics and with Indian marble furniture,

Tuesday, 12th May, 2020

The beginning of May is Euphorbia time usually twinned with Aliums. Alliums are bulbs, and my favourites are Globemaster, which when purchased from Bob Brown a couple of them soon turned into 30. Bob said that that never happened to him! Globemaster comes before Allium Purple Sensation, which lives up to its name. To my horror James has fallen in love with Nectaroscordons which seed more than any of them, and increase at the base, which they all do. Funnily enough at the edge of a border I can see why James likes them. Opening very slowly from a sheath they are like half a dozen bells in various shades of brown, on a long stem. One of their drawbacks is they smell very strong, and it is not a nice smell. Allium Everest is white and elegant, and I have got them in the Klimt border. Quite expensive to buy initially, they have doubled up a lot. My favourite is Allium albopilosum, which is pale pink, huge, and beautiful in every aspect. We have had a bad frost this morning, and James returning from his dog walk said two of my magnolias had dropped their leaves. Oh dear.

The result of James making me go through all my Country Lifes and Gardens Illustrated has given me quite a few new ideas. Particularly when Gardens Illustrated list their dozen best Baptisias for example. I rather like the look of Baptisia ‘Golden Chestnut’. Their only drawback is that they are slow to come up. Mine are only just emerging now. Though I suppose you can fill the gaps with either Camassias and or Tulips. I do not always get the tulips right by any matter of means. Tulip Formosa is Polly’s new discovery, and a very good one too. At this time of year is the appearance of Aconitum Stainless Steel, a very pretty soft grey blue and tall, However not only very poisonous, it collapses after flowering so you have to have something in front of it.

The star of the magnolias is Magnolia Sieboldi, flowering now, and Magnolia Lilliflora Nigra, which seems to flower indefinitely, and has got quite large, in a spreading way. I cant imagine a garden without Magnolias. We have eight Magnolias which I think is a lot for an acre and a half garden. They have suffered a lot today. Particularly this morning, and Athene. Everyone is saying this, but I have never known such a beautiful Spring.

Magnolia Athene

Autumn border, with Helenium satins early flowered, Monarda, and calamagrostis El Dorado, mid summer

Mostyn, my family home, the back of it with the Japanese garden on the left. This was in May.

7 May, 2020, some of the advantages of the Coronovirus

I never thought I would be writing this. One of the main things is attention to detail because we have more time on our hands. Never before have I religiously threaded the stems of Clematis in and out of the chicken wire. Therefore they are going to break and flower more instead of a messy jumble. We have nine clematis and three are growing up tripods, Arabella has hardly moved yet after about five years, but is so pretty I am hanging on to it. My favourite is Princess Kate, and Alionushka, that is up a tripod in the par terre and has had an AGM. Polly likes Madame Julia Correvon, which to my eyes is always untidy. Our walls are not tall, and are also north facing. I like the tripods which are made of steel and have small gold balls on top, painted by me. They slightly remind me of Portmeirion.

Now is when we are making notes as to our changes to the tulips in our borders for next year. To be really effective we should put in a small cane or take photographs of where they are going to go. Polly discovered a very good one, a Viridiflora called Formosa. She saw it at Arundel, planted by the Bannermans, and it is dual tone green and yellow. Delightful.

James has been nagging me to go through the immense pile of magazines I have, or we have! Every day I put it off, Finally I have done it, cutting out articles by Mark Griffiths in Country Life. He is the best. Gardener Troy at Ilford Manor has told me what I am doing wrong with Siberian irises when they do not flower, basically not enough sun and good soil. It was Mark who inspired me with the planting of lilies in pots by the greenhouse, difficulty with the staking as I am afraid the pots are not big enough. We will see if we get on better this year. This is always what makes gardening interesting.

Iris flight of the butterflies, just opening out having been divided
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After a lot of wind, we are going to have a heatwave, Tuesday 21st April

The wind has been pretty fierce the last few days. The tulips are making the beds look very pretty and giving them a colour scheme. Over the years you learn which tulips repeat well that you love. Viridiflora tulips are top of my list. Artist, which is peach and green and Deirdre, green and white. One of my favourites is Ballerina, though a good friend grows it and her husband said. “I am not having that” There is always a bias against orange. It depends what you put orange against, it is always like that in the garden. It smells beautiful too. A big job was taking out half the front garden and we have ordered Malus Evereste to go there instead. Polly has done all that. The other main thing has been sorting out where the dahlias are going to go. Some of the squares in the par terre are going to be the same as last year. James is being a great help in the garden at the moment, wiring jobs that seem to take ages, and at the moment there seem to be no signs of the rabbits. Malus Transitoria is about to break out of bud and looks lovely, and the pale yellow magnolia is one of the prettiest things you have ever seen.

One thing that is really special are the camassias at the bottom of the paddock, and in the Burgundy border. We have carefully placed Camassia Electra in the main border and it is such a soft pale blue that it lightens up the whole bed. Clive put us on the cover of a calendar last year, which I was pretty thrilled about. It was so beautiful that I said “where is that”

Tulip Sanne, Klimt Border

Venetian melange of Triumph tulips