Polly has cut back the whole of the garden with very little help from me. My whole psyche has improved, it always does in March, it is to do with the days getting longer. It is the darkness that I don’t like, and it has been bitterly cold this winter with snow and frost, and a biting wind. We have got used to mild winters and now it has all changed..I had a new idea from looking out of my bedroom window yesterday. James Aunt Ivie, now passed away, always said that you should look out of your bedroom window. I have a very pretty Cornus Mas aureus which is now flowering,. We have moved two Buxus aureus sempervirens Aurea marginata, spheres from the front garden next to the Cornus mas, and they pick up all the colours. At the moment all the garden is in shades of green, relying on the structure. There is a lot of lime green, which is pretty. The hellebores are still flowering, that makes three months, though they did not like the snow and frost much and it turned their flowers black.
In February I was delighted to receive through the post from the States a. Book by Carolyn Mullet called Adventures in Eden, with a cover shot of Broughton Grange by Clive Nichols, A par terre with undulating box with different coloured tulips in each section, It is a lovely book and I particularly liked Carolyns choice of the photos here, as they were very atmospheric, and taken quite a long time ago, also by Clive Nichols. I was pleased with what she wrote about me, one is not always. It is a special book and well worth having. In one of the pictures is a shot of a pink dictamnus (mine) why are they so difficult, I don’t have it any more.
A lime green golden colour is everywhere near the kitchen. It is Valerian phu aurea. A gift from Victoria Wakefield a long time ago. I did not like it to start with and now I love it. The white snowdrops look good against it, and when it flowers the flowers smell beautiful when you walk past them particularly in the evening. There is a lot to smell now, the sarcoccoca wafts everywhere, and I feel sorry for James that he has no sense of smell. Daffodils are opening out, and the little ones called Tête-à-tête . My Salix Irrorata bed is taking shape, and I am keeping the hellebores to white. Graham Gough. says he has three of them, I am pleased as he has brilliant taste!
Well, are we going to have a better time this year, and we have not got to the end of January yet. I am lucky as I have Tensing and Temba, James who is going for his first vaccine today in a snow storm, Polly my gardener, and Roger and Mandy who live beneath Polly. At least I have all these people to wave at from a distance outside. Polly has been working so hard in the most desperate grey and cold weather, cutting back plants and she is working her way down the garden.
The last two days, in which the sun shone, I was out there, cutting the plumes off Cortaderia Ricardiae, and then I have to cut them into small pieces. James and I have taken the tarpaulin off the table and chairs in the paddock. How lovely to have an acquamarine flash down there instead of beiges and browns which are always depressing. All the snowdrops seem to have increased hugely. Especially a Greatorex double called Jacquinetta that Polly gave me years ago, They have gone in my new bed called Salix Irrorata, which was spotted at the Cambridge Botanic Garden. This has a white theme. Aconites are everywhere, and they have definitely spread a lot, and they die in a graceful way. This is very important. Most of my Hellebores are out and they are a success story this year as Polly cut off the leaves early, which stopped the mice nesting and chewing off the flowers. They really looked terrible last year,
Two excitements this year. I have ordered three new Agapanthus, three of each, from Avon Bulbs. A very special one called Alan Street, which is dark, and I ordered last year, Northern Star, and Acquamarine. I am going to have them as an edging in the par terre, as what is there is not having any impact, they flower for too short a time and you don’t really notice them. I think that agapanthus are amongst my favourites.
I am very proud of my two sons as to how they are coping with this lockdown with small children. Dominic and Hetty with three and Thomas with one. There has been no moaning of any sort. I have forgotten to tell you all to order Triteleia Rudy. So beautiful, flowers in June, which is purple blue, and again I have ordered it from Avon Bulbs. These flower when not much else flowers. Even when everything else is shut, you can order from these nurseries on line or on the telephone. I have just ordered Astelia silver shadow, I am having a love affair with Astelias at the moment, as they are so good in the winter and all the year round. I cant bring myself to spend a lot of money on snowdrops! Though I do love them and they increase well here. A few years ago Polly and I spent a lot of time and trouble to improve the garden in winter round the house so we could see it all the time, That means evergreen shapes, snowdrops, aconites, ferns, hellebores, (the only flower that is flowering for three months). Clematis cirrhosa Balearic is all flowering on a wall that I am looking at. Anything that flowers in Winter is worth its weight in gold.
It took us a year to get the right thing, but this is beautiful
Fern reflection on stone ball on steps to par terre
I looked out of the window the day before yesterday, and goodness it was totally different. Polly has finished all the clipping., and planted all the tulips in the par terre. The shapes there are Phillyrea angustifolia, two of them. There is one Phillyrea latifolia , and this has a different leaf and reflects the light. I prefer it, I have placed another one in the Burgundy border, I love this one as it picks up the shape of the plant in the par terre, The colours have completely changed, and we have a few roses glowing, Chrysanthemums are looking amazing by the gate into the paddock. Those colours are stunning, One is Venetian and has gold in it. Another one came from Marina Christopher. If you have not heard of her already you should engrave her name on your heart. I just wish we saw more of her. Sue Dickinson, another star, told me that Bob Brown has a marvellous selection of Chrysanthemums, so Polly and I must hasten over there. We have rather neglected him in favour of Avondale which is very close to us.. James has asked me if I want anything in particular for Christmas, and I told him a book called, Jimi Blake, ‘ A beautiful obsession”, Two or three people have recommended it to me, There are so many gardening books that it would be exciting to find one that grips one. There are still Alstomerias flowering which make a marvellous cut flower. Two different ones, from Sue Dickinson and Victoria Wakefield at Bramdean. If you pull them from the base they will flower again, Needless to say Sue Dickinson gave me this useful tip. It is extraordinary to think that I did not succeed with them when I first started growing them, It is what makes gardening so interesting, the success rate and the failure rate, Nothing is really predictable.
In the par terre we have two quite large plants of Pittosporum Golf Ball, They have grown a lot this year, and what is special is the shade of green of the leaf, I think they are meant to be tender., In Country Life this week is a garden in New Zealand with a lot of them running along the base of the picture. My eye fell on them immediately. I have never seen a green like that. At this time of year ones eye falls on leaf and flower, For example Mahonia Eurobracteata soft caress’. It is flowering now and has a more delicate leaf than usual, It is not my favourite plant but this is lovely, We already have two seedlings, ‘. Several snowdrops are up, Galanthus S. Arnott’. It is honey scented. Brenda Froyle, came up first in the circle in the paddock.. Fuschia Hawkshead has been flowering for ages, It is so delicate and never ceases, It is under planted with Parahebe catarractea which I think is a shrub, pretty tiny with beautiful minute flowers, I found it at Kiftsgate with Dianey and Betsy. Goodness I miss those two.
The top two photos are of Malus Hupehensis, and the top photo has Delphinium Alice Artindale in it with its second flowering. It is a species delphinium, meant to be difficult, but not here,