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Blooms in June


By kowhai


Shortly we’ll be half way through the year! It’s now difficult to believe that six months ago we were freezing. Despite the odd casualty, such the cordyline and two favourite ‘hardy’ salvias, most things have not only survived but put on an abundant display of growth, foliage and flowers, including a pair of teasles so the plant life has forgotten the zero temperatures and responded to the early spring with enthusiasm. And just now the much needed rain is refreshing things.

Foremost among the floral abundance are the roses. Rhapsody in Blue is being especially abundant. It’s definitely good value and although not being quite as blue as its name suggests, it is a striking colour.

Nearby is another less abundant but equally striking rose: Purple Tiger. It’s now in its third year. Like all of the roses it’s in a bed with other plants. I don’t really like exclusive rose beds in which the plants are in bare earth, but prefer them to be part of a mixed planting. I dare say if the roses were in their own special bed with lots of TLC (and manure!) they’d be better, but we’re happy with them as they are.

In the background to of the first picture, there is another excellent rose: Rosa Complicata. This was recommended by the Financial Times gardening correspondent many years ago, and I must say it was a very good recommendation. It’s planted next to a bamboo (and was a neighour of the now deceased cordyline) and from season to season has become better and better. It has what I could call a ‘traditional’ rose flower, i.e. it is a single rose, and as such is a magnet for insect life, which double roses aren’t.

Meanwhile, Kifsgate, the climber, is also providing a veritable deluge of flowers, both for ourselves and our neighbour. Unfortunately, it has a fairly brief flowering season, but the cool weather at the moment is good for extending its flowering.

Nearby on a very tacky arch (which we’ve meant to replace but it’s still there after 10 years) a relative of Kiftsgate, Treasure Trove, is providing a fairly modest display which is what we have been waiting for since we planted her. The flowers gradually change colour and they have a pleasant scent.

Meanwhile, in the border the hardy geraniums are doing well, but providing us with a puzzle. Which ones are they? The two blue ones currently in flower are different, and although we’ve kept all the labels from the plants we’ve bought and planted, the numerous labels filed away aren’t much help. We think that the first one is Johnson’s Blue (but maybe it isn’t) while the other one, whose petals are different and are a deeper shade of blue, could be G Philip Vapelle. Meanwhile, there are two plants of a new(ish) blue variety, Roxanne, which are poised to flower.

Glimpsed in the picture of Philip Vapelle is some of the loosestrife which is now in full bloom and provides a striking contrast to the other colours in the border. The loosestrife is a ‘legacy’ plant. We inherited some in the shaded border, where it wasn’t at all happy. I broke it up and transferred plants to the south face border, where it has really taken off. Since it grows abundantly, it can be weeded out from time to time. Basically, the kind of plant I like: mostly looks after itself and can be thinned out without going into a sulk.

The same is true of dear Ann Fokard, a hybrid with really striking flowers. Her foliage is also attractive and she spreads around the border and pops up in surprising places, but without being invasive.

I think that as a hybrid she may be related to Geranium × oxonianum f. thurstonianum, a near neighbour in the border. This relative has a very different habit, being upright and growing to about a metre in height. It also sports very large foliage, being 20cm or more in size. The flowers are terrific, with the same kind of bright colour and dark centre as A Folkard.

The surviving hardy salvias are doing well. They like being grown in pots and ‘Hot Lips’ is going through her seasonal transition. She starts with flowers which are entirely deep red, then as the season progresses, she puts out flowers which are a mixture of white and red, with the lower petal (on which the bees land) being red, thus providing the basis for the name. They really are hot lips!

Hot lips is next to one of the many potted hosta plants which this year are also being abundant. Although they’re grown for their foliage, the flowers are a bonus, and one of them is really trying to win the prize for most flowers, of which this is just the start.

On the foliage front, we’re puzzled by the hamamelis whose leaves seem to be starting to change colour already! We visited a garden centre yesterday and, somewhat to our relief, found that the hamamelis there were doing the same. I suppose that they need to start now because in the autumn, their colour is quite spectacular.

Our visit to the garden centre was with the intention of buying a hebe. The only ones they had available don’t grow tall enough, but in the process of seeing what was there, we found the only plant of an unusual cistus with frosted pink flowers. So after a lot of discussion, we decided that it would be just the thing for one of the big pots in the front garden, where it has replaced a sarcocoa. (We have no shortage of sarcocoa, our next door neighbour also having one planted outside her front door.) We’re looking forward to it providing a good show at the front, where I’ve started putting some potted plants to augment the grasses and lavender already planted there. It’s west facing and gets a lot of sun in the afternoon, and the dear old Bishop, having shown no signs of life, is now growing so we should get a good show of flowers in the late summer.

If in fact we have a ‘proper’ summer! Although it’s great to have lots of blooms in the borders, it would also be nice to be able to sit comfortably in the garden enjoying them. Let’s hope that soon once the rain has done its work, we can sit out, enjoying a real Blooming Summer!

More blog posts by kowhai

Previous post: Some garden theatre

Next post: Orchids in Singapore Botanical Gardens



lovely pictures.

12 Jun, 2011


I enjoyed this blog Kowhai, lovely pictures. I particularly like the first one showing the abundance of June in your garden.

16 Apr, 2012

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