A Garden Walk at the end of May: Part Two

Yesterday I started to show you around my garden in Part One. I hope you will now join me for the second half of the garden tour… there’ll be tea and cake afterwards! 😉

We got as far as the bench near The Professor yesterday, at the bottom of the pathway. So now we can look back up at the west-facing rockery. The Iris sibirica are still blooming, and the pink scented peony is opening too. Below the Binocular Man you can see the Cotoneaster in flower next to one of the largest rocks in the rockery. The round frame bottom right is for the pink Aster novae-angliae ‘Alma Pötschke’ in the autumn, as it gets so leggy. I forgot to give the Asters and the Achilleas the Chelsea chop this spring and it is probably too late now.


Let’s look at that pink peony up close. Mmmm, can you smell it?


A few steps further along the base of the rockery and we can see around the corner where the Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) flourishes. In this steepest part of the rockery there is a lot of Teucrium hircanicum spreading nicely, some Willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium ‘Stahl Rose’ ) a lot of weeds(!), some Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale), a Buddleia davidii and the Miscanthus Adagio at the bottom. Somewhere in there is the rhubarb too! On the right is a tall hardy Hibiscus.


If we turn around we can see the former stream bed, fed with rain water directed from the roof, that used to run down to a pond before our time here – the pond is now our compost heap! There was some extravagant hardware built into this garden in the 1970s, but little thought on maintenance, and terrible neglect when we arrived. The now dry stream bed is planted with Day Lilies, Aruncus, and a single pale yellow iris that only flowers if we have had enough damp weather… It seems a shame to disturb them, so it will probably remain as a reminder of what once was…GardenWalk98

On the left of the bridge across the stream bed are the ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Although they get full sun here they still thrive, but need cutting right back most years by midsummer if they get scorched by strong sun.


Now we can see the south-facing rockery, full of Valerian, Poppies, Lavender and at the top the glorious golden Euonymus fortunei – a very hardy, evergreen and drought-resistant shrub that I wouldn’t be without.


If we take a few steps back we can see the trees in our garden and the woods beyond as the backdrop. The Miscanthus on the left (just visible behind the ferns) will change this view when it finally gains height in the summer.


Up the steps next to another large rock and back to the patio…


There, now we have reached the top of the south side and you can see the fresh growth of the lavenders and roses, which will provide colour throughout June and July, along with the Red Valerian which will hopefully attract lots of butterflies and Hummingbird Hawk-moths again.


Shall I put the kettle on now? Take a seat and enjoy the view!


I hope you enjoyed the walk around my rockery. Perhaps you will give us a tour of your garden soon too? 😉

A Garden Walk at the End of May: Part One

 It was such lovely weather on Thursday, with a few clouds rushing across the blue sky in the strong breeze, but also with welcome bursts of warm sunshine in between. Perfect light for photographs in the late afternoon, and perfect for a tour of the garden.

Would you like to come?

Let’s go out onto the patio to begin…


My patio containers have a few annuals in them after being refreshed this spring… I hope to eventually find suitable perennials for them all that withstand both a freezing winter and a hot summer. A pinky red Achillea millefolium is already in flower and looks like it might be a candidate for dividing in autumn. Some Cosmos and Cleome seedlings are also in there. I hope the copper tape around the bases of the pots keep the slugs and snails at bay!

As we swing to the right we look across the bench to the top bed and small top lawn. The bench faces the morning sun when the rest of the patio is still in shade.


The small fence around the flower bed stops nosy doggies jumping after lizards etc!


There are lots of Aquilegia vulgaris here, and Veronica just starting to flower, which hides the remaining tulip foliage.

If we step forward a little we can look down the rockery…


… and see the Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) just starting to flower. The white peony further down will soon be out too.

Back to the lawn and the top bed… the Alliums ( nigrum? and christophii) and this lovely hardy Gladiolus communis are the highlights right now.

Looking down the rockery on the west side from where the garden tap is, we can see Binocular Man keeping watch. The rusty frame bottom right supports the tall yellow Achillea that I gave up trying to move… it likes it there obviously! The grass in the middle of this photo is apparently a thug – Phalaris arundinacea, but I have been able to keep it in check so far…


Let’s step back on the other side of the lawn and look across towards the Acer – the tap near the Alchemilla mollis will help you orientate yourself.


The path down to the garden is a curved slope with wood chippings, lined on the left by Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Czakor’, Lysimachia and Golden Rod (Solidago canadensis, which seeded itself there), and on the right by the trees. There is a tiny bed just to the right (where the bell hangs, see previous picture) but it is extremely dry and hot there,so the Geranium phaeum is allowed to get the upper hand as it copes so well with those conditions.


On the way down we can look to the left across the west rockery… lots of aquilegias again!


At the bottom of the sloping path is The Professor, a little weather-beaten, with only one wing, but he has had a lot of work recently with strong winds most of this spring.


Let’s have a rest here… there’s a bench just behind us. I’ll take you on the second half of the tour tomorrow!

Spice Cupboard Inspiration

Alys, who is a dear blogging friend at Gardening Nirvana, is good at organizing stuff – in fact that is her job, organizing people. So when she asked in a recent post about where we need help with organizational matters, I immediately thought of my spice cupboard… and the large tupperware container of herbs in another cupboard taking up much needed space in my small kitchen.

My spice cupboard is one of those shallow ones above the stove. Not ideal in terms of “keep your herbs and spices cool and dry”, but what else can I put in there?! Here it is after being emptied…


(The panel at the bottom is missing due to the dormouse… a long story you can read about here.)

Alys is such a treasure – she immediately put her thinking cap on and produced a great post all about organizing herbs and spices. I was inspired!

So, step one is “gather and review”… what chaos!


The “consolidate” and “purge” steps came next: I had to be rigorous and throw out things I really never use or that are way too old. But I also discovered some curry spices I had forgotten about, and some fresh cardamon… mmm, that smells so good. My favourite! Do you have a favourite spice?

(The cardamon inspired a cake last weekend and I shall share the recipe with you very soon.)

As I already had quite a few metal jars which are stackable I decided to invest in some new ones to match. A good decision I think… Here is what it now looks like, after a couple of hours of cleaning old jars, re-labelling and organizing:


Ahhh, that’s better.

Thanks Alys!


For all you gardeners out there, Alys also did a very useful post on how to organize your gardening tools.

If you have any organizing challenges Alys would love to help, so go and visit her at “Gardening Nirvana“. 😀

In a Vase on Monday: Beauty

I am once again joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her meme In a Vase on Monday. Do take a look at her pretty creation today – the name and props complement the contents of her “vase” perfectly!

My contribution this week is one of my favourite vases so far this year…


Don’t you just love that red peony and the blue Centaurea?


And those Siberian Irises are so lovely…


I added some Aruncus stems for the delicate buds and the foliage…


Moon Daisies and Sweet Williams buds…


Lady’s Mantle…


And some Geranium phaeum…


It is a wonderful season for picking flowers from your own garden to bring indoors, so why not join in…


Thanks for hosting, Cathy!


In a Vase on Monday: Ticket to the Moon


The flowers in my Monday vase this week look as though they are reaching up for the sky, or with those moon daisies should I say the moon, which is why this song came to mind…


(If you are as old as I am you will no doubt remember it, even if like me you weren’t keen on it!)


Of course, I had to cut a few Aquilegias (Aquilegia vulgaris) while they are looking fresh, and the tall moon daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) and grasses growing around the edge of the lawn seemed to be suitable companions. I also have a Sanguisorba minor (salad burnet) that needed taming, and cut a large sprig. The flowers are so pretty just as they start to open…


Growing near a pale pink Aquilegia is my white Dicentra (Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’) and I took a deep breath and cut one piece. It still takes some courage sometimes to cut things for a vase, but I am so glad I took the plunge this time…


Some lovely white Allium cowanii (also called Allium neapolitanum) have opened the Allium season. I planted these throughout the bed at the top of the rockery last autumn and am very pleased with them. They are not too tall, so have stood up to some breezes and rain showers very well. And what’s more, despite strong sunshine on a couple of days last week they have opened slowly, with no sign of heatstroke! (The weather has been quite a mixture recently!)


Thanks go to Cathy once more for hosting this meme. Go and visit her today at Rambling in the Garden to see what she has put in her vase, and see all the other vases from around the globe that have linked in. 🙂


Aquliegia Alert

The Aquilegias (Aquilegia vulgaris) have just started opening in my rockery…


They really add height and colour after the tulips have faded…


I shall be looking out for a couple of new ones I planted late last summer, but in the meantime most of them seem to be pale pink or purple…


I can’t imagine my rockery without them, so I was very worried when I recently became aware of a terrible disease threatening Aquilegias in the UK. If you grow them or intend to buy one, please read one of the following links – early identification is essential.

Gardening For health

The Telegraph

Apparently it is limited to certain areas and is particularly widespread in the south-west of England. However, my Mum is farther north (Northamptonshire) and has been saddened to find that all of her Aquilegias have disappeared. It only takes one plant to spread this mildew, which then stays in your soil and will prevent you from being able to grow them in the future too.

Carrie Thomas, who owned the National Collection, lost almost all her plants last year. She has compiled some useful information on her website, including a list of reported cases and where they are:

Touchwood Plants


I hope your Aquilegias are safe!