Back in the early Spring, when it was too cold to spend much time out of doors, I dreamed of having a border planted with flowers to cut for the house, and in an optimistic spirit ordered seeds from Sarah Raven and bought packets at the supermarket and found forgotten seeds in the stash. When the weather turned really bitter, not long after sowing Cosmos, larkspur, brachycome, verbena, cornflowers and others, I carried trays of young seedlings to the greenhouse and back inside the house every morning and evening. Although, heaven knows, there were days when even indoors seems too cool for seedlings.cosmos-rubenza
Seemingly endless weeks passed when not a lot happened. Growth was slow, but steady and I had almost decided seed raising was a bit too much trouble, except it was gardening when the snow lay on the ground for a long time and green shoots where there were few others. And when the snow finally melted I had to prepare the border by removing three large and ugly shrubs, one dead and two gripping the soil with a tenacity worthy of very tenacious things that needed brute force and a crowbar and much applied Anglo Saxon and the help of stronger arms than mine.
Now I am very glad I -we-bothered. The Cutting Garden has basked in the summer sunshine and grown enthusiastically. I haven’t got the planting right. Some of the smaller,slower flowers have been overwhelmed by the exuberance of the Cosmos and the clump of hemerocallis I left in the border-one of those three foot six clumps of orange flowered hooligans. And did I mention the giant crocosmia I spent the spring digging out? Still there.

But the flowers have started flowering now. Who knew just how gorgeous a spire of larkspur could be? Or how intense the blue of a cornflower. And the scent of sweet peas-not just for the house, but enjoyable every time I walk past.
Next year there will be larcornflower-blue-ballkspur again. Perhaps more than this year. I am growing Giant Imperial mixed and can see no reason to change. And a second wigwam of sweetpeas, white cosmos, Purity, and the cornflower, Blue Ball.And more clouds of brachycome for the containers .What else depends on how much I like the remaining young plants that haven’t yet started flowering. Perhaps there might be a planting plan next season too, rather than a pop it in and hope plan. But hey, it works. Sort of.



the silver lining

We’ve been away from the Garden of Eden for a short time, visiting friends in The South. It was our first four night break since last May and was a welcome recharge, especially as visits to The Hillier Arboretum and Exbury Gardens were on the agenda, as well as three garden open under the National garden Scheme. I’ve visited the former many times, indeed I used to live within walking distance,¬† and still have a Myrtle I bought there in about 1989, but had never been to Exbury. It was such a treat, to visit in perfect weather and with the camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas just coming into their full glory. At Hilliers it was the glorious magnolias that were the stars of the garden. This crazy season has delayed the blooms until the frosts seem to be over, and the flowers were abundant and perfect. This is the silver lining after the severity of the winter and the wetness of last summer, a blessing for the patiently waiting.

Now we live on neutral soil and have several rhododendrons and azaleas just budding, I looked with renewed interest at the shapes¬† and forms of the flowers and shrubs, as well as the colours. I found myself drawn to the smaller forms of rhododendron, but have yet to find a magnolia I don’t like! I discovered a couple of magnolias I would cheerfully grow, although I may need to save hard for both and plant a shelter belt! I enjoyed seeing the massed azaleas in both gardens but on reflection, I prefer the smaller rhododendrons to the vivid azaleas.

The camellias were stunning. The beauty of the flower form is almost as if it were carved from wax and I understand how it would be easy to lose your heart to a collection of camellias. I am almost glad my garden is a little too exposed for them, as I have no idea which would be my favourites, there are so many beautiful forms. I would cheerfully grow any of these in my garden