It’s been another glorious week for gardening with warm bright days. If it wasn’t for the darker evenings and tell-tale reddening of the leaves I could believe it was early summer. Some of the stalwarts of June are still flowering magnificently, such as my roses. The dahlias, asters and sedum tell a different seasonal story.
This week I have been stocking up on pots for spring bulbs, getting a border ready for a major replant, moving things into my greenhouse and photographing roses and quince.
Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’
This rose has been my number one this year. It has been smothered in huge, plum-coloured frilly flowers non-stop since June. It looked lush throughout the blazing heat-wave and is still looking mid-summer fresh into October.
I have barely watered it and as the plants around it droop and look ready to drop their leaves, I could believe it will flower into November. Some of you may remember how lovely its leaves looked alongside burnished tulips back in April. I so loved this combination I’m sharing it again.
This rose is in a prominent position near my front door and deserves to be so.
Quince, Cydonia oblonga
I love the word Quince. Iit sounds so Elizabethan to me, probably because it’s the name of one of the mechanicals in a Midsummer Night’s Dream. I planted this Quince tree just this year in my little orchard and I worried about it establishing in the summer heat. I did water it every week but no more often then that. I’m hoping it’s been sending roots deep down in search of water.
Despite a tricky first year, it’s been kind enough to give me three fruits, which are a really jolly yellow colour.
I’m also sharing a picture of the furled up flower that I took back in the spring. I love the felt-tip shape of the furled up flower and the candy striped pattern.
Welcome to my garden lovely Quince and may you continue to entertain me next year.
I’ve shared close-ups of some of these dahlias before. I can’t get over how many flowers I’ve been getting so I thought I’d share a wider view. Here you can see ‘Bacardi’, ‘Cafe au Lait’ and ‘Henriette’ with some Sedum (now known by another name I believe) in the understorey.
This used to be a herb garden but I pulled out the old woody sages and huge lovage stalks. Now I plant this area with seasonal displays – tulips, then alliums, then dahlias.
This year a thick layer of mulch really helped the flowers. Not only will it have fed the dahlias (although I also plant them with lots of manure and chicken pellets) but I think it also kept moisture in the soil.
I think the mulch has ensured a stunning display.
Spring bulb pans
I’ve joined the Alpine Garden Society and will soon be starting as a diarist on their website. I will be writing about my beginner forays into alpine gardening – something I have a growing passion for.
Two weeks ago I went to my first AGS event, a spring bulb day. I had a fantastic time hearing presentations on flowering bulbs in Kyrgyzstan (only one vowel in that long name!) and Greece accompanied by stunning photos of the the flowers in their native habitats. There was also a presentation about Erythroniums. I had no idea there was so much diversity.
The Head of Alpines at Kew Gardens then gave a demonstration of how to pot up alpine bulbs. Her big tip was to cram lots of bulbs into each pan to avoid a sparse display.
Straight afterwards, I was like a kid in a sweet shop at the Pottertons Nursery stand, where dozens of bulbs were lined up to buy. I chose a few varieties and counted them out into paper bags to take home, just as I had done in the sweet shops of my youth.
These dear little tulip bulbs – a red variety called ‘Little Beauty’ are only the size of a marble and seem very dainty next to the robust standard tulip bulbs.
I do tend to wish winter away and I really can’t wait to see what these look like next spring.
A blank canvas
This bed has been almost empty all summer waiting for a good time to plant it up again. Many of the plants in it were moved last autumn up to the veg patch. Time got away from me though and a few were left behind.
This was the dumping ground for the builders but a surprising number of plants managed to survive the steel capped boots and pallets of bricks. This week I dug up the last of these and potted them. Whilst doing so I found an old horseshoe, which I’m hoping will bring me luck in designing the planting scheme here. I’ve longed for the chance to redo this bed but now the day is here I’m nervous about what to do.
Having some plants to reuse gives me a good starting point and I have some lovely Delphiniums, Cranesbill and Iris to replant. That’s allot of blues and purples so I’m thinking of other colours to weave in there and also some grasses for different textures. Whilst I know I should plan it out on paper, it’s not something I’ve ever really done before.
Knowing me, it’s more likely that I’ll place the plants I already have and then visualise in my head what’s missing. Not a scientific approach but one that works for me.
Now the nights are drawing in, I’ve started to move my greenhouse ornamentals into the small zone that I can heat over the winter. It’s beginning to look lovely and I know I’ll enjoy trips out there in the depths of winter for a little hit of jungly warmth.
This week my horticultural society had a talk from broadcaster Matthew Biggs and he reminded me why I like tropical plants so much. Matthew was a friend of the late Will Giles, who had an incredible tropical garden in Norwich. It was crammed with bananas, palms, cacti and bromeliads. Will Giles features in Matthew’s book ‘Lessons from the Great Gardeners’.
My collection is still small but I like this display of air plants and bromeliads. I attached them to to a log found in the woods, the bromeliads with wire and the air plants with glue. You don’t need a greenhouse to achieve this as they make excellent houseplants.
Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.