So we are now in Autumn and there is evidence all around. The garden is gently shifting into another season. There are probably more seed heads than flowers and the leaves starting to change colour. As Erin from Floret Flower Farm says, ‘it is the time of year to tidy up and put the garden to bed’.
Orange, red berries could not shout autumn louder if they tried. Below is the pyracantha strutting it’s stuff and the birds are loving it.
The garden is still looking pretty good and the grasses I mentioned last month are certainly helping but you can see the shadows lengthening.
And it was time to say goodbye to the cutting bed. I was really hoping to stretch the cosmos out for a bit longer but the strong winds and rain we had recently took their toll and many stems were broken. There are still the salvia’s I planted which need a permanent home and loads of self seeding nigella which I shall leave. I will also scatter some other annuals as an experiment.
Hubby has cut the summer fruiting raspberries down, picked all the remaining tomatoes and removed the plants from the greenhouse. They have gone on the bonfire along with the cosmos, hedge trimmings and reeds. Anything else that gets cut down will go in the green waste bin. Below you can see all the canes cut down and net removed. The leeks and perpetual spinach are looking good in the back ground.
I am still dead heading the dahlia’s which should flower until the first frosts and finally the cafe au lait is gradually coming into flower – better late than never! Bit of a damaged leaf on the next stem!
As plants die back and leaves fall we will be able to see more clearly the gaps and re assess what needs moving, dividing and replacing. So far I have lifted the helenium and discovered the reason for their poor performance this year – I think it is the Chafer grub which feeds on plant roots. I removed them all, divided the plant and re planted it in another part of the garden and a pot for good measure. Apparently when the soil has been disturbed it should encourage birds to find the grubs so keep the problem at bay. Fingers crossed.
I have moved an achillea which was under an apple tree, it flowered quite nicely for a couple of years but this year did not really get going. It was probably too dry and too shady. The skimmia too have a new home so on to the astilbe.
The Lady in Black aster is in full flower and so delicate with it’s purple/bronze arching stems covered in tiny pink flowers. So worth having to give colour at this time of year.
The apple trees have been thinned out to let more light in, it might mean sacrificing some fruit next year but it important for tree maintenance. Talking of maintenance, the greenhouse windows have been washed and it is now ready to have the benches put back in so I can start sewing seeds and be home to the dahlia plants I raised earlier over winter.
We are having strong winds again so we will have to keep on top of the falling leaves. I have decided to get rid of some of the crocosmia, the flowers in some areas are less prolific than the leave which are becoming a bit unsightly. This is particularly the case in the front garden where it they have got mixed in with rogue grass and just look a mess. So that area is all being cleared and will become the new home for a skimmia or 2 and possibly compact ornamental grass.
The clocks go back this weekend so the nights will be drawing in and it will feel even more autumnal and probably mean less time spent in the garden. There are still jobs to be done, mainly weeding, as plants die down or get cut back you can see what they have been hiding!
The weather is awful at the moment so not possible to get out and do those gardening jobs.
Next month I will plant those lovely tulip bulbs which have arrived. Until then here is this months bunch with viburnum, rosemary, grevillea, grasses, salvia and the last of the cosmos, dahlia and scabious.
We have been very fortunate with the weather at the start of this month having some very warm days. However the mornings and evenings remind us autumn is approaching being chilly and sometimes misty but it has felt as though summer has been prolonged for a little while longer. The photo below was taken on the 6th September.
The main thing at this time of year is that the days are noticeably shorter which has a bearing in the garden. Light is extremely important for growing. Most plants need at least 10 hours of light per day to grow. Otherwise, they go into a state of dormancy and stop growing until they start getting enough light per day to continue growing. The amount of light tells a plant what season it is and therefore what it should be doing. At this time of year plants are setting seed, reproducing before it gets too cold.
However, there is still a reasonable amount of colour in the garden, the rudbeckia and last few flowers of the crocosmia.
The second flush of delphinium and scabious have helped and of course the dahlias keep on flowering, if only we had more. The roses are blooming again although a couple of climbers do not seem to have stopped.
But still waiting for the Cafe au Lait to flower! At least the other dahlia’s are doing their thing.
We have quite a few grasses which add colour along with height and movement. We leave them until February before cutting down to give the garden continued interest and vital food for birds. We have Miscanthus, Stipa, Panicum and Pennistum varieties all of which have a different flower/seed head.
They are great too in flower bouquets, other than the sunflowers all the blooms and foliage are from the garden in the bunch below.
September is a good month to move, lift and divide plants so long as the soil is not too hard which I have to say ours is at the moment. But we have still identified what needs to be done. Number one on the list is to remove all the oxeye daisies, I know it might seem harsh but I am a true believer in getting rid of what does not work or in this case what creates too much work – they just self seed to the point of taking over.
Any annuals which have had their day can be pulled up like the bupluhrum and the perennials cut back to ground level. We tend to leave anything with a seed head like dill, fennel, echinacea, the cardoons and artichokes as they are a great source of food for the birds and can look good too.
The late fruiting raspberries are doing really well this year and still producing daily pickings, I am having to freeze them as we cannot eat them all. The earlier flowering ones need to be cut back now. Also I have stewed our apples and roasted hubby’s tomatoes before freezing. The tomatoes add such flavour to pasta dishes, stews and numerous other recipes.
It is also a time to think about next year from a design point of view which does overlap with the decisions on what needs moving, along with additional plants. Annuals can still be sown directly into the soil whilst it remains warm and spring bulbs planted. We do not have a great deal of bulbs but I am determined to plant some perennial tulips. I have ordered a nice selection from Sarah Raven, varieties Artist, Groenland and Spring Green.
I have received the seeds I ordered, most of which can be sown under glass now until next March. I usually sow seeds in the spring but I am going to give autumn sewing a go this year. I am so looking forward to seeing the wonderful Amazing Grey poppy in flower. Hope mine look as good as these!
The tomatoes need gathering, as the days get shorter and cooler there just is not the sun to ripen them but there is plenty you can do with a green tomato! I did hear though on Gardeners Question Time that you can ripen tomatoes by putting them with banana’s, it is all in the ethene they give off. However the tomato must have started to colour, it does not work with a completely green one.
The leeks are filling out and the courgette plant is still supplying us with fruit. I decided to pick the rest of the apples as we had such high winds recently that I thought they would be blown off and too bruised to use. Another batch to stew and freeze.
So we now approach the end of September and have had a lovely sunny afternoon but I feel that may be the last. The lawn has been mowed and over the next few weeks we will continue to tidy, cut down and sow/plant for next year.
For this months bunch I literally walked round the garden snipping what was in flower so we have cosmos, dahlia, delphinium, michaelmas daisy, sedum, amaranthus, crocosmia seed head, grasses, fever few, rosemary, choisya, snowberry, eucalyptus and cotinus.
August is a month if you grow fruit and vegetables as well as flowers when you should be really reaping the benefits. It can be one of the hottest months and we have been experiencing somewhat of a heatwave so watering is essential. We did get a bit of rain at the end of last month so had some in the water butts but we have also been collecting ‘grey water’ particularly washing up water and when running the tap from hot to cold and vice versa. It is pots and any new plants/cuttings that need it most along with the tomatoes and it is important to water early morning or in the evening to prevent evaporation. The same time goes for cutting flowers too, it should not be done in the heat of the day.
It is also a time to keep deadheading to prolong flowering, cosmos is a great giver if you do it religiously.
There are seeds to be collected, I recently gathered nigella and bupleurum and hoping to get some larkspur soon.
The lavender and geraniums we planted along the path have grown somewhat along with the verbena and dill self seeders.
I am pleased the see the delphinium that I cut down are putting on a lot of new growth and have one actual new flower so far.
I planted more of the salvia’s in a temporary position ( 2 plants on either side of the hydrangea) rather than have them wither in pots which was a wise move given the weather. All are looking very healthy.
I repotted the dahlia cuttings into single pots and they have now flowered – result!
It is always so nice to see wild life in the garden. The bees are loving the artichoke and echinacea.
Talking of artichokes, remember the cardoon I mentioned in a previous post, well although probably past its best now it is up in the branches of the cherry tree as predicted.
Wild life is important to us and living on the river probably means we get to see more than in previous gardens and I have not really given much of an insight to our lovely location. There has been the grass snake basking on the deck, the flash of a king fisher speeding along the water surface, moorhens, and the mallards and swans being daily visitors at the moment. We frequently see herons and cormorants too.
And of course the fish – tench, roach, dace, carp, mullet (but they do not hang about to be caught, much to hubby and our son’s annoyance) We recently saw a stoat, the sheep are great neighbours but I have my reservations about the gulls as they are prone to stealing ducklings and make so much noise!
We have had at last had some rain which has been a relief for us as well as the garden. It makes such a difference to how everything looks. However I think the hibiscus has really enjoyed the recent conditions as I have not seen it flower this well before.
We have not had to worry about holidays this year due to the pesky corona virus but for gardeners when to take them can be a problem. It was in fact a topic discussed on Gardeners Question Time recently. The panel concluded that there was never a good time other than maybe January or February. We in fact tend to go May and/or September as we like to enjoy any summer we get here. May can be tricky as if you grow annuals from seed as it is the month a lot of them need planting out and it will depend on how cold or warm spring has been as to what stage they are at.
We are now half way through August and have had another virtual treat with Flowers From The Farm Flower Farmers Big Weekend. It is usually a time when members open up their farms and cutting gardens to welcome in the public but this year many made video’s of their plots to share tips and advise. I watched a number and learnt lots, just need to put it into action! We have a local member who I use quite a bit – Orchard Farm Flowers and they have lovely dahlia’s at the moment. If only mine looked like that!
August is also a time for cutting back, I have already cut some of the hardy geraniums back in the hope of a second flush along with the alchemilla mollis and feverfew, the latter having already produced new flower stems. The spirea japonica needs dead heading and the lavenders need trimming back too.
I always think of Symphoricarpos or ‘snowberry’ as a winter shrub but it is actually a late summer one as you can see below it is in full leave with its little white, tinged with pink berries. It is a shrub I love using in my work.
We have had incredibly high winds the last few days but fortunately there does not appear to be too much damage, a few more windfall apples and a couple of broken cosmos stems.
We are now in the last week of August and I feel summer is fading, the nights are pulling in and there is a nip in the air. The cosmos although I am regularly deadheading and there are still flowers and buds, it does look tired with some stems turning quite brown. It looks as though we will have quite a lot of rain in the next couple of days which may damage blooms. We still have the rudbeckia, echinacea, zinnias and the michaelmas daisy is coming into flower. Below is the white one and we have a very pretty pale pink with dark foliage which is yet to come out.
The helenium has not done well this year. Previous years I have struggled to get both arms round the clumps to tie supports to them but this year we only have a few weedy stems. I am going to dig it up, divide it and re plant with some feed and hope it revitalises. It may not recover and we will have to plant something else. Many plants do not go on forever and need replacing, another example of why a garden is ever evolving.
Official with it being the end of August, summer is now over but the garden continues to produce flowers, fruit and veg. Here is this months bunch which shows the change in seasons with the richer colours of the amaranthus, cosmos, zinnia, rose, echinacea, dill and grasses.
So this is how the garden looked on the 2nd of July. It is lacking a bit of colour now the delphiniums and lupins have gone over as we await the zinnia’s, echinacea, dahlia’s and rudbeckia.
But the the larkspur is looking good in the cutting bed.
The month has started with varied weather but wind being pretty much constant! It does mean the showers do not hang about too long but is not ideal especially when you are trying to net raspberries to stop the pesky pigeons from stealing them! But we managed it!
I have cut all the delphinium down, as per Monty Dons advise! They should hopefully give a second showing later in the year so for now we have planted some of the amaranthus we raised from seed. Being left in pots they are way behind the ones in the cutting bed but they should put a spurt on in the open ground.
I am very pleased with the the clematis durandii this year. It is its second year and has quite a few stems. Unlike a lot of clematis as you can see it has quite long stems which are ideal for using in bunches. I use a lot of clematis in my work so was determined to grow this variety. More are planned for next year as they give height and interest for quite a few weeks.
I also bought some achillea to fill in some gaps and being a perennial it is money well spent for colour this season and future years.
The echinacea are staring to putting on a lovely show with many more flowers to come.
The zinnia’s are performing well too and are an excellent example of how pinching out works. I did a bit of an experiment by leaving some with the central flower in which are in bloom now and others where I pinched it out. You can see from the photo below how those are shorter at the moment but have more flower buds so this method produces more flowers and allows for a longer, staggered flowering season.
The salvia cuttings have been a great success, well in their pots, I have now planted one in the boarder to see how it fairs. It in fact fills a space where I removed a Russian Sage or Perovskia which was being eaten and nearly destroyed. We bought three a couple of years ago, one is doing great as you can see below but the other two had to be rescued and potted up until I thought they were strong enough to go back in the boarder, clearly that was not the case.
We have loads of apples on one of our trees, a nice dessert apple but the other two are bare so no Bramleys this year. It has to be down to the pruning so we need to double check that for next year.
We had a good rain yesterday, excellent timing for those amaranthus and achillea that have just been planted.
We are getting more or less daily pickings of raspberries and tomatoes now.
The basil continues to romp away in the greenhouse, great for pesto. And whilst hubby was a bit disappointed that only one courgette plant germinated it is in fact producing so many that we would have been overwhelmed if we had more.
There is so much coming into flower now, although I am a little disappointed with the height of this dahlia – I really must try to find the labels and learn their names!
But the single flower red and magenta pompom ones are great.
And we still have the Cafe au Lait to look forward to.
Hopefully the image below shows the colour I was trying to achieve in the middle part of the boarder, vibrant summer colours provided by echinacea, kniphofia, spirea, crocosmia and the yellow bud of the rudbeckia just staring to show.
The pots of agapanthus are always a joy. They need very little attention and come up year after year although there is one pot we have had for nearly 20 years and the flowers are getting less and less so that definitely needs splitting and re potting.
The sweet peas have nearly reached the top of their support and are probably coming to the end. The stems are getting much shorter but I am still managing to get enough stems daily to fill a couple of bud vases.
One of the most difficult things to achieve in a garden is continuous colour and interest throughout the seasons. We certainly struggle with this. Whilst as previously mention when first designing the garden we planted many shrubs both evergreen and deciduous along with perennials and each year we add annuals there are always some periods where gaps appear. This is particularly once the lupins and delphiniums have gone over. One way to help rectify this is to visit other gardens to see what they have in flower so this week we did just that and re visited Great Dixter which is not far from us.
It certainly provided the answers, I had been thinking of adding more phlox next year after reading an article by Sarah Raven who recommended the very same for its longevity of flowering. And there was an abundance of phlox in various colours. I also liked the wild celery, see below as well as the Eupatorium and Thalictrum or meadow rue. It was well worth the visit as I also purchased a lovely pale pink astilbe and lysimachia clethroides which I have been after for ages!
The other way of filling gaps is by placing pots in them planted with lovely blooms but pots need a lot of watering so succession planting is better.
July, along with October tends to be the month we cut the boundary hedges. And I do mean we, hubby cuts and I collect the debris. We are always mindful of nesting birds hence leaving it until July. You cannot really see them hidden behind the boarders but they do look neat and tidy.
The above photo was taken on the 28th July and we ended the month with soaring temperatures, along with most of the country we had over 30 degrees but at least we had our trusty breeze.
And as with all posts, I end with a garden bunch. This month we have cosmos, larkspur, amaranthus, crocosmia, lavender, mint, rosemary, bupleurum and choisya foliage.
Here we are in June, another wonderful month for gardeners and a time to enjoy all your hard work. Yes there are always jobs to be done but so much to admire too. It will depend on where you are in the country as to what needs to be done as in colder areas spring flowering shrubs have probably just faded and require pruning. Whereas here I only have the philadelphus which has just come into flower and of course smells wonderful.
This reminds me of why we choose certain plants and shrubs, scent is an important element in a garden and can come from many sources. As well as the philadelphus we have lavender which is great to brush past, although we are still awaiting the replacement plants for the bed by the path. Herbs tall and ground level provide a variety of powerful scents, dill, fennel, rosemary, sage, thyme, mint and oregano are the main ones we grow. I recently planted a mini herb garden outside the kitchen for ease of picking! I need to remove half of the skimmia’s behind but will wait until autumn to do that as I want to put them in the front garden which requires clearing.
All the roses we have are scented, the honeysuckle which has nearly finished but we have the sweet peas and jasmine to look forward. And how could I nearly forget the lovely Daphne planted at the top of the steps up to the garden from which I get a lovely whiff every time I pass.
I am also interested in texture and form so love a seed head as much as a flower, just look at this clematis and of course the nigella pods are fantastic too.
The weather has turned quite chilly but we have had some desperately needed rain. Whenever it rains the garden takes on more vigour and vibrance. The sweet peas seem to have doubled in height and there is even a flower but I think I need to pinched them out to get them more bushy, a job for tomorrow! You can see the amaryanthus are coming along nicely too.
I have one solitary white peony, the first time it has flowered. My daughter bought it for Mother’s Day some years ago, I am not even sure of the variety but it could be Shirley Temple. Hopefully it will continue to produce more blooms each year.
The new plants for boarder by the path and round the deck seating area have now arrived and are in! The lavenders look a bit sparse at the moment but by next year should have bulked up and the hardy geraniums should flower right through the summer as long as I dead head them! It was very good timing as we had rain just after planting and are due more over the next couple of days which will help to get them settled in.
We do not have ‘rooms’ in our garden or secret areas as such because as mentioned in the initial blog about the development of the garden we did not want to obscure the view of the river and pasture. However I did initially design the boarders in colour themes but this has got a bit muddled over the years with self seeders and filling in but I quite like that as it means the garden is evolving naturally and organically. And of course now we have one continuous boarder rather than 4 separate ones. But I did begin with spring pastels going into stronger spring, summer blues and pinks.
The idea was then to have a more vibrant bed with lime green geulda rose in spring and oranges, yellows, bright pinks in summer.
The last bed, before we put in the cutting flower bed, has cool colours and plants to reflect our proximity to the coast. It has mainly whites, greens, greys with a touch of yellow from the ground cover sedums and blue from the salvia’s and agapanthus. The cardoon and ‘Miss Wilmotts Ghost’ thistle provide texture.
And I like this shady boarder with the dappled light coming through highlighting the white foxgloves under the willow.
We also have seating areas and I cannot believe it has taken me 6 years to discover what a sheltered sun trap the deck in front of the studio is!
The other part of the deck is a good spot for an aperitif on a warm evening overlooking the river. As I said earlier you need to be able to enjoy the garden!
And then there is the mooring from where hubby fishes.
And Winnie meets friends!
On to jobs, I have pinched out some dahlia’s and put them in a pot hoping for new plants, the salvia cuttings I took previously look pretty healthy. There is nothing like creating new stock for free!
I am constantly dead heading, the geraniums and roses in particular at the moment.
Rain again which is great as we planted some more lupins yesterday and it has given me the opportunity to take a photo of the droplets on the alchemilla mollis I referred to in last months post.
And how nice is this to see bees on the veronica!
The cut flower bed is doing well with the cosmos beginning to flower and the larkspur and amaranthus gaining height by the day.
It is now the 15th June and British Flowers Week. This event was founded by New Covent Garden Market in 2013, ‘it is an annual, national celebration of the wealth and variety of British cut flowers, plants and foliage’. It involves promoting British flowers with numerous events and last year we went to see Simon Lycett’s installation at The Royal Opera House created with the help of members of Flower From The Farm which is a co-operative of British cut flower growers. It really was stunning with all British flowers and foam free.
Like so many events it is going to be virtual this year with lots of on line talks and demo’s which I have been dipping into. So far I have listened to interviews by Simon Lycett with Shane Connolly, Rebel, Rebel and watched You Tube demo’s by Jam Jar Flowers and Tattie Rose. I also entered into the spirit and posted a photo of my flowers for their ‘windows’ feature with the garden as a backdrop.
Well that was this year’s British Flowers Week and I think with the current situation British Flowers are really coming into their own as many growers are having to find outlets for all the flowers they would usually have used for weddings. We have come a long way since we first opened our florist shop in 2006, I so wanted to use and sell local and British grown flowers. It was not until a few years later and even then there was only one guy who grew sweet peas and a newly established grower that I was able to do this on a small scale. I could not even buy from Covent Garden as they only sold whole boxes which for a small village florist just was not practical. Whereas now the the whole market is on board with British grown hence the event. Obviously I was so ahead of my time – haha!
Back to the garden and it is nearing the end of June. We have had strong winds and some rain so have had to check for damage and put in some additional staking. But things are looking good. The lupins and delphiniums are nearly over, I will cut both down, the delph should certainly give a second flush later in the season.
And the salvia’s are splendid, I cannot believe it has taken me so many years to appreciate what a great plant this is. There are many types but I prefer the shrubby herbaceous perennials.
Other things which are doing well at the moment are the acanthus, they have such a wonderful textured flower, shame about the leaves which tend to suffer from mildew.
The courgettes with its lovely vibrant flower and we have one raspberry, I cannot wait for them to ripen, we had loads last year.
This post would not be complete without another shot of the cut flower bed, how it has grown in just 2 weeks!
The burgundy amaranthus are looking great and work so well in summer and autumn bunches.
Can you believe we are half way through the year already. June ended with rain which is always good for the garden as long as it is not too heavy. It will give the plants greater vigour and I am looking forward to next month when we should see many more of the boarder perennials in flower.
Here is this months vase with all pickings from the garden – the last of the lupins, roses, scabious, cosmos, lavender, feverfew, alchemilla mollis, salvia, spirea, rosemary, nigella seed heads and a few stems of grass
May is one of the nicest month’s in the garden but another very busy one. It also has a key event in the social/garden calendar – the Chelsea Flower Show which this year is going to be very different due to lockdown. It will be virtual but at least it is happening, it is so inspirational but more of that later.
In our garden the rain has made everything look so vibrant and put a real spurt on. So many plants are beginning to bloom including the hardy geraniums, lupins, scabious and climbing roses.
The choisya is a mass of blooms and smelling wonderful as are the above mentioned roses.
The veg bed is coming along with the leeks and courgettes planted along with the tomatoes and basil in the greenhouse, all hubby’s domain! There are still some zinnia’s in there too which will soon make it out to the cold frame.
The cutting flower bed has been weeded, dug over and ready and waiting for those plants which are currently hardening off.
Everything you read about growing from seed is that once plants which have more than one stem, so branch like, are between 20 & 30cm high, you should ‘pinch out’ the central stem to promote grow. This can also help extend the flowering period.
Here are the cosmos and larkspur now in situ. I have pinched out some of the cosmos so as to do a comparison.
We are now at the 7th of May and in the middle of another few days of glorious weather so we are continuing with planting out anything ready in the cold frame into the garden gradually filling up the boarders. The ammi has gone in, I put the viola’s my sister sent as seeds for my birthday into pots which should flower later this year. They are with the pots of succulents, agapanthus and pelargoniums which will hopefully be in flower in the next couple of months. They are last years pelargoniums so it will be interesting to see how well they do.
The tiny allium buds showing last month are now in full bloom nestling amongst the bronze fennel.
Sunday 10th May and it is Garden Day UK which was first launched nationally last year and according to their website ‘it is a chance for people to down tools, don a flower crown and spend time celebrating their gardens. Everyone is invited from balcony and indoor gardeners to flower border fanatics and lawn devotees and the most important thing is to take time to enjoy your garden’
It is a shame it wasn’t yesterday as most of the country basked in sun whereas today is rather grey. and breezy. But I made my flower crown from flowers and foliage in the garden and even put a frock on for the occasion!
And I have to say we constantly enjoy our garden even if viewing from inside on a dull, windy day. The senecio, (Brachyglottis) is looking good after it’s earlier trim and such a useful plant for floristry, I used it in my flower crown above.
Fortunately it is deemed a good idea to have a part of the garden left to nature letting wild flowers seed and nettles grow which help with the wild life and that is exactly what this patch is with the wonderful cow parsley. It is down near the river so ideal for dragon flies looking for insects to feast on.
You may recall my over eager planting of the Salvia Amistad which had to be protected, well it looks like it has survived with new shoots showing at the base and some flowers. It is supposed to grow to a height of 1.2m so a way to go yet. We saw it in all it’s glory when we visited The Salutation Gardens last year in Sandwich, such an inspirational place.
I can hardly believe we are half way through May and it only goes to shown how variable the weather can still be. The last few days have been chilly with some areas having a frost, fortunately not here. It does mean recently planted annuals have not grown very much but the roses are getting better as the month progresses.
They look great with the large headed clematis, a close up below. Given the flower timing, we apply the rule ‘flower before June, don’t prune’
And the pink thrift in the front shingle garden are looking very vibrant.
The nest we found in the front garden last month turned out to be a pheasant and not a mallard. The eggs have now hatched but mum and chicks left the premises pretty quickly, I think they were spooked by the dog!
And so here we are on the eve of the Chelsea Flower Show. We were incredibly fortunate when we had the shop to be asked to provide floral arrangements via a local nursery, for Capital Garden Products a company supplying fibreglass pots, troughs, planters and urns. We did it for 3 years and it meant going on site on the Sunday before opening to do the arrangements and then a refresh on the Wednesday. It was such a thrill be see all the gardens and pavilion being given the final touches and have the opportunity to walk round without the crowds. Below are the urns we did in 2014.
Chelsea Flower Show week has arrived and what beautiful weather. It is great that the RHS decided to go ahead with ‘virtual’ Chelsea and it has been good watching various YouTube video’s with designers, florists and gardeners. I have seen Andy Sturgen and Diarmuid Gavin’s gardens, floristry demo’s by Nikki Tibbles, Shane Connolly, Larry Walshe, Hiding in the City and talks by Sarah Raven, Simon Lycett and Tom Massey. So that’s my Chelsea fix for this year.
Obviously nothing can compete with the real thing but it has still been inspiring. I wonder what would have been the trends, colours and new plants to have emerged had it gone ahead, I think sustainability and climate change would have been up there!
Our garden is coming on a treat with this glorious sunshine. The cosmos and larkspur are gaining height and the amaranths and zinnia have been planted. The roses are really going for it, we have some which were here when we moved in and I do not know their names but the one above is a David Austin called Mary Rose and looks great scrambling up the apple tree.
It is important to dead head now to prolong the flowering of all plants and some benefit from ‘The Chelsea Chop’ a technique named as it tends to happen around Chelsea week. This means cutting down boarder perennials by about a third. I am not very good at doing this as like so many I find it hard to chop off buds and lush growth so I have done it tentatively and as a bit of an experiment. One of the perennial geraniums has had a chop as have the asters and below is a before and after photo. I will chart their progress in later posts.
I have also pruned the broom, bridal spirea and euonymus. The geulda rose will be next once the flowers have faded as they along with the above are blocking out light to the dahlia’s which yes, have come back – hooray – some have got quite tall whilst others are just poking through.
Now is a good time to take cuttings from the likes of dahlia’s and salvia’s. I in fact found a broken stem of a salvia so have taken cuttings from that and keeping my fingers crossed.
The self seeded nigella is just starting to show colour, it is quite a carpet at one end of the cutting bed and surrounding an artichoke.
We have had some really hot days the last couple of weeks, such a contrast to the beginning of the month so have needed to keep an eye on anything recently planted. Once they get established they should not require much watering, you always get a much stronger plant/shrub if they have good initial soakings and then leave them to put down strong roots to find water rather than rely on regular surface watering. It is also important to put plants in the right place. I planted a couple of astilbes under an apple tree thinking they would have sufficient shade but one of them always looks a bit sad, it is too dry for it so I must remember to move it in the autumn. Another mistake, as was planting Oxeye daisy or at least the variety I have! It is a lovely perennial but just takes over and seeds like wildfire. I have spent hours removing the seedlings. So the moral here is to do your research and plant the right plant in the right place!
We have a few cardoons and artichokes in the boarders as they are great statement, architectural plants but they need support. The one above will have leaves and flowers way up into the cherry tree and is very heavy so can easily be damaged by wind.
I have a few more annuals to plant up, cleomy and the rest of the amaranths which will go where the lupins currently are. They are looking good at present but are quite short lived and then leave rather a gap.
Hubby’s veg is coming along nicely, the tomatoes are growing well in the greenhouse.
Also the alchemilla mollis is looking great, it is one of my favourite perennials, I love everything about it, it’s colour, form, the way dew collects in the leaves, even it’s name! It looks good with so many plants and here we have it with hardy geraniums, lavender, euphorbia and soon the verbena will be poking through. I use it a lot in my floristry too.
Peonies are another all time fav but we only have a couple at present one of which is now in flower.
And remember those violas I planted up earlier in the month well, just look at their little smiley faces, I was not expecting to see them quite so soon!
So that was May and another record month of glorious sunshine which has been great but we must not forget the toll that takes on our water resources. We have a number of water butts for when we do get rain and as mentioned earlier really try to minimise watering once plants have become established and of course you do not need to water a lawn, no matter how dry and brown the grass looks it does always come back.
Below is how the garden is looking right nowAnd I have decided to end every post with a vase of flowers from the garden, or for as long as I possibly can. So below we have lupins, a garden rose, cow parsley, mint, nigella buds, scabious, rosemary and senecio.And on to flaming June!
The time spent in the garden can really increase now. More seeds to plant, inside and out. We recently planted ammi straight into the prepared bed amongst the delphiniums and I sewed zinnia’s which will need to geminate in the greenhouse.
I will be able to show in later posts how these are coming along but we do have some in the greenhouse just in case!
Some of the earlier planted seeds like sweet peas are now large enough to be planted out which hubby kindly did and made the climbing structure, it does not look very pretty now but wait until it is covered with flowers! It is very important to keep sweet peas well watered.
I could not believe how quickly these zinnia’s started to germinate, planted on the 10th April and showing 4 days later! And no I am not trying to trick you, it is the same batch, I did 2 trays hence the different colour pots!
We put in staking frameworks at the beginning of this month in the boarders to support the likes of the delphiniums and ammi mentioned above along with the lupins.
It can be a tedious task but so worthwhile as the plants gain height.
Many plants are starting to show now and literally increase in height by the day, solomon’s seal (polygonatum) being a great example along with the alliums, peonies, dahlia’s and scabious which seems to be a bit confused as it is rather early.
You can just about see the stems in front of the pesky wild garlic, it is everywhere and so invasive. I know you can use it in cooking and may be I will try it one day but for now I just want to get rid of it!
Again probably quite difficult to see the allium bud but it will not be long before it bursts into flower. Much easier to see the peony buds below.
The Cytisus or Broom puts on a lovely show now as does the Bridal Spirea (Spirea Arguta).
All the boarders are starting to bulk out but still with spaces for the annuals. Here is a view from the top of the garden.
I do not often show the ‘mauve’ bed in the fore ground for some reason but you will see in the months to come it is quite striking with the central black elder, alliums, self seeding cerinthe, verbena, bronze fennel, scabious along with philadelphus and alchemilla mollis to lighten it.
And the shot below is of those circular beds we linked to make one continuous boarder.
Having decided to write this blog I have been going round the garden and realise how many areas still need a lot of attention, particularly the boundary boarders. We have rather neglected these or just dumped plants in whilst deciding what to do with them. One area which half way house is an area at the bottom of the garden which is shaded by next doors trees and has some nice shrubs/plants but needs sorting out. It actually does not look too bad but the cordylines have all merged into each other, the grevillea out grown its space and nature has a habit of taking over here.
Also this is a good time to mention that gardeners are always learning and make mistakes however experienced and of course we should learn from these. I did a classic recently. Having over wintered Salvia Amistad in the greenhouse, we bought it in the autumn last year, with the spell of warm weather we had over Easter I planted it only to get a frost a couple of days later. It is now being protected in the hope that I have not given it such a shock as to kill it! Why I did not stick to my usual rule of waiting until after the first May Bank Holiday before planting anything too tender I do not know!
This is becoming rather lengthy but I did say it was a busy month! Also that a garden is always evolving, remember those lovely lavender along the path from the post showing the development of the garden?
Well this is what they looked like after a wet winter.
So we are replacing them. Hubby’s hard work after removing them and digging over ready for when new plants arrive next month.
Some of the better ones have been planted in one of those neglected boundary boarders and we are keeping our fingers crossed they survive.
A problem we find with boundary boarders is that you have no control over what your neighbours grow or how well they will maintain their gardens and we have bindweed, ground elder, brambles, ivy and those pesky wild garlic to contend with. It is a matter of keeping top of them so they do not take over.
It is incredible how things are changing on a daily basis at the moment, as we are having such a lovely long spell of warm weather everything is well ahead, below are how the Soloman Seal are looking after only 2 weeks, they can be seen a few inches high in an earlier photo.
This reminds me of a wedding a few years ago now. A bride wanted mainly tulips for her May wedding and her mother was growing them. She had done a trial the year before but in the year of the wedding we had a very warm spring and by the time of the wedding all the tulips her mum grew had gone over, so plan B had to be put into action – our trusty wholesaler saved the day. It is a lovely idea to grow your own wedding flowers but you have to be flexible and really have what is available rather than be to transfixed on a particular flower.
Many of the seeds having been re potted are now in need of ‘hardening off’ which means taking them out of the greenhouse to get accustomed to cooler conditions before being planted out.
A cold frame is the ideal place, hubby has been at work again converting old shelving. However if you do not have this luxury, finding a sheltered spot against a wall or the shed will give some protection.
So far I have only mentioned the back garden but we also have 2 areas at the front which need working on including the furniture! This shot includes the crocosmia where we are lucky enough to have a mallard nesting who does not seem to be bothered by Winnie, our cocker spaniel, lets’s hope she behaves when they hatch!
And below is the drive area, again in a photo it looks ok but get close up and the bed has many weeds, grass, shrubs in need of shaping and generally could do with a good old tidy up.
It is now the 28th of April and according to the Met Office, having had the most sunniest April on record, we now have some much needed rain and are expecting more but hopefully not too heavy so as to flatten the lovely lush new growth on the perennials!
And as April fades into May it is another busy month ahead. It is currently very windy and the sweet peas are suffering a bit, I will have to keep on eye on those, but the apple blossom is looking rather splendid.
So here we go with the start of a year in The Flower House Studio garden!
As you can see there are plants in the garden in January which give colour through leaf or stem but it is quite bare. What you do and when in the garden has a lot to do with where you live. In general it is colder the more north you are and wetter the further west. We are right on the south coast so are pretty dry and generally do not get that many frosts or severe winters but we do get quite a lot of wind.
As I was rather late starting this blog, I am consolidating the first 3 months. January and February are not as busy months as others in the year particularly if the weather is wet and/or cold. The light levels are also very low and daylight is key for growing.
However, January is a good month to have a tidy up, checking for any wind damage and to start getting things ready for what is to come. Sheds, greenhouse and the garden generally benefit from this. Pruning can also be done but you have to know which plants benefit from a winter prune. Any spring flowering shrubs should wait until after flowering so forsythia, bridal spirea, philadelphus and the like. But summer flowering clematis, buddleia, roses, spirea and cornus can be cut back hard, Wisteria is a bit of an exception as it like a prune in January and July.
Apple and pear trees can also be done now but my husband prefers to do this in the summer as winter pruning encourages vigorous growth. However if you have old branches or ones which cross and rub, get rid of those now then shape and thin to allow the light in later. These are very basic pruning rules, so it is best to check for your particular plants.
I have been known to start weeding in January as long as the soil is not too heavy and you can have some colour in the garden from mahonia, skimmia, hellebores and you might start to see the snowdrops poking through.
This is a good time for cutting back deciduous ornamental grasses, right back to the ground before new shoots appear. Evergreen varieties just need the old growth pulled out, they come out with a gentle tug.
Any pruning can be finished too and if you did not sort out your seeds last month do it now as some can start to be sown including sweet peas, cornflower, lots of veg – broad beans, kale, spinach and herbs but they have to be under glass. I have to say I tend to wait until March. But there is always the weeding to be getting on with.
This is when it really starts to happen, days get longer, remember the clocks go forward and spring officially begins. We see cheery daffodils, crocus, muscari and other bulbs starting to come out and the flowering shrubs will gradually become a mass of colour, like the Ribes above. It will depend on the weather though as March can still be very cold with snow, hail, rain and wind, remember the old saying ‘March winds and April showers’
But there is no denying the day time temperatures are usually on the up and with more day light hours it is the month to really get on with planting seeds.Herbaceous plants and shrubs can be planted as well as divided in March as long as it is not too wet and it is a good time to mulch. We missed our opportunity this year with it being so wet and then we went into lockdown so could not get our usual manure. You need have completed the weeding before doing this because although one of the advantages of mulching is to suppress weeds it is not a way of ignoring them.
And we cannot forget early rhubarb, we plant different varieties so we have it from February right through to autumn. It has become a bit of a family joke that whenever people come for dinner or I take dessert to a someones, it will be rhubarb of some sort, be it rhubarb crumble cake, brûlée, fool or just straight forward stewed rhubarb. I love the latter for breakfast with yoghurt and why not if you have got it, use it!
Above are the cosmos and amaranths seeds planted earlier in the month along with the sweet peas below.
We also have larkspur, cleome which really has not come too much, penstemon, echinacea and my husband who is in charge of veg has leeks, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and basil. We have learnt over the years only to grow what we really like and in sensible quantities. I will show how they are coming along in later posts.
Lawns are another area of the garden which start to need attention, if we have had a mild spell they might have already had a cut but March is the usual time they put on a spurt. Remember the first cut should not be too low, just take the top off. If you like to feed your lawn now is the time to do it and boarder edges may need redefining.
There may be many more jobs I have overlooked but we seem to have been busy enough as it is. Getting dahlia’s out of storage and potting them up is one you may have noticed I have omitted. This is because I believe plants should work for me and not me having to work for them! I always felt having to lift, over winter and re pot a bit of a faff so did not ‘do dahlia’s’ but I like them and they are so useful in floristry. Therefore I do have some but leave them in and so far the majority have come back each year. I have had the odd casualty and may have to review what I do this year as it was so wet and may have lost more. It would probably be wise to do as a fellow florist friend does and that is lift some as a back up.
Also you have to remember I am only commenting on our garden, other gardeners will have different priorities, likes and dislikes but whoever you are and wherever you garden the rewards are great including pickings for a vase or two! Forsythia, ribes, rosemary, euphoriba, hellebore, muscari, broom, bridal spirea and grevillea – spring in a jug!
As it is going to be a while before I write new wedding posts I decided to do regular posts about the garden. These will show how it changes through the year and serve as a journal for me, particularly as I am bad at remembering which plants are where! I see something coming through and have to wait until I recognise the foliage or form and then it comes flooding back.This first post though is to show how it all started and has evolved over the 6 years we have been here. We are in lovely spot in East Sussex on the River Brede near Rye. We overlook open pasture which has sheep grazing from when the lambs appear in March to about October.
Above is looking down the garden from the back of the house to the river and beyond taken in October 2013, the year we moved in. Below is taken at the same time but looking towards the house, before the renovations.
The garden faces north west but gets the sun for most of the day. It is dry with an average annual rainfall of 650mm (25.95 inches) and being close to the sea we do get our fair share of wind. It is probably classed as a medium sized garden measuring approximately 40m in length and 13m wide (130ft x 40ft).
I do not claim to be an expert, I just have a love of gardening and passion for flowers and plants. I did do a garden design course many years ago and my husband and I have created 3 gardens virtually from scratch. Outside space has always been important to us and being a florist it is great to have material on hand.
We did not really get started until April 2015 because up until then we still had the florist shop and not much time for gardening. The garden was essentially a rectangle of lawn with 5 trees, 3 apple, a cherry and plum. There was one small flower bed between the shed and then summer house.The first job was to decide on a design and wanted one that could be on going as we did not want to create all the beds in one go as they would have needed to be planted up to prevent weeding over (we have done that before!) and that would have been very costly.
My husband suggested, and I was hesitant at first, to create circular beds around the trees on the left side of the garden. My hesitation was that the trees would take too much moisture and light but we wanted to maintain the view and therefore did not want central beds. There also had to be places to sit, pathways and the more functional aspects like water butts, greenhouse, washing line, compost and storage areas.
Initial design decided and on to the plants. There can be many reasons which dictate the plants you choose; location, soil type, the style of garden you wish to create, scent, colour and of course your own personal favourites. I also have the added requirement of growing plants, shrubs and flowers I can use in my business. If you do not know where to begin a good rule of thumb is to look at what is growing in gardens around you, if they thrive there then the likely hood is they will in your garden too.
I did a basic plant plan for each bed with the idea of adding more over time and topping up with annuals. The garden style is loosely cottage garden but it is important to have a structure of shrubs both evergreen and deciduous as they help to give interest all year. The above selection got us started and included Euonymus, Spiraeas, Philadelphus, Guelda Rose (Vibernum), Cornus, Elaeagnus, Cardoon, Bronze Fennel, Sambucus nigra (Black elder), Senecio or Brachyglottis as it is now called and my must have favourites of Hardy Geraniums, Alchemilla mollis, and Sedums. There were Clematis, Honeysuckle, Fuschia, Forsythia, Ribus and Roses already in the boundary hedgerows and over the shed which really helped.
The planting was fairly sparse but gave room for growth and you really have to think of 3 to 5 years for a garden to establish.
Over the next couple of years we added paths, a veg bed and greenhouse. I mean ‘the Royal We’ as it was my husband who did most of the heavy work with my supervision of course!
Also the summerhouse became my studio.
We added perennials including astrantia, astilbe, delphiniums, lupins, peonies, penstemons, many grown from seed and more recently various grasses.
The next major job was to expand the beds by removing the grass between them so they all linked up.
The above was taken in June 2017 showing the linked beds and lavender totally obscuring the path but who cares when the scent wafts around as you brush past! We grew annuals from seed which filled the gaps in the boarders and gave great colour.
In January 2018 ‘we’ created another bed for a cutting garden which would have loads more annuals for me to use.
And there it is planted up with sweet peas, cosmos, amaranthus, larkspur, nigella and cornflower.
And this last one is from June last year showing the lupins, delphiniums and ammi in all their glory. I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far as much as we did creating it.
The next post will be about this year and how we start getting the garden prepared for the seasons ahead.
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