Thursday, 4 June 2015

Lovely Leaves


Although it's now June and the garden is full of flowers, often it's the foliage on certain plants, both alone and in combination that is drawing my eye. For instance, the young leaves on Hydrangea serrata,


... or the bronze-tipped ones of Rhododendron schlippenbachii.


 I find myself admiring the purple veins of Heuchera 'Green Spice'...


 ...and the lacy layers of Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea'...


 ... or the grey foliage of Rosa glauca overlaid on another Hydrangea serrata.


 Sometimes it's a combination of two different leaf forms or colours, like the emerging pale-grey leaves of a small willow, Salix helvetica, against a backdrop of Joe-Pye weed, Eupatorium 'Chocolate'.


 Sometimes it's a flower and leaf combination, such as a crimson peony leaning over Ligularia dentata 'Othello'.


 Or little Clematis ochroleuca, sprawling over the leaves of Brunnera 'Looking Glass'


Or icy blue Hosta 'Halcyon' under the feathery foliage of Nandina 'Plum Passion' with a dark-leafed heuchera behind, all punctuated by the red-stemmed white flowers of a saxifrage.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Time passes

I realize that I've been so busy tending the garden that I haven't spent much time taking photographs. Spring this year has been unusually warm and dry with the result that many plants are flowering ahead of schedule.
 Here's the garden in mid-May, late on a sunny afternoon:


Behind the back fence Rosa pimpinellifolia, which usually blooms in late May, was already full of flowers, attracting dozens of bees and other insects to its generous amount of pollen. The scent, especially in the evening was lovely too. I love this rose for its early blooming, its small fern-like leaves, its delicate, extremely fragrant flowers, its overall health, its colourful fall foliage and rosehips, and even its winter canes that no less an authority than Gertrude Jekyll describes  this way: "even in winter leaflessness the tangle of close-locked branches has an appearance of warm brown comfort that makes it good to have near a house."
Is that enough justification for growing it?



Two weeks later at the end of May the garden looked like this:


Although I'd taken out the pale pink Aquilegia 'Rose Barlow', so visible in the earlier photo, peonies have already filled the spaces. Along the back fence Rosa pimpinellifolia has shed its petals, and begun to produce copious hips,


 ... but 'Ghislaine de Féligonde' behind the car and 'Lykkefund' on the right have taken over and are full of flowers.

Ghislaine de Féligonde
Ghislaine de Féligonde
Lykkefund (Lucky Find)
Lykkefund
In the centre bed 'Rosa Mundi, although barely visible behind foliage in the panoramic shot ,was as vivid as it's ever been.

Rosa Mundi

This year it has done a curious thing, producing a solid pale pink flower on a single lateral.


I've tied a marker on the stem and will try to propagate it later in the year.

Beside 'Rosa Mundi' is my favourite peony, 'Festiva Maxima', always a treat with its dying swan imitation and its delicious scent.

Between  'Rosa Mundi' and 'Festiva Maxima' is the only German iris I care about. I find them as a group too assertive, but 'Midnight Oil' is such a good contrast with its companions in my largely pastel garden, and so dramatic in its own right, that I don't mind giving it a space. A newly opening flower looks like this:


As the flower matures, the petals shift from a voluptuous mixture of purples to silky black.


Meanwhile, in the front garden Verbascum 'Jackie in Pink' is clashing with crimson peonies. I'll let it bloom for now, but it's got to go elsewhere before next year.


I also have the original 'Jackie', a more accommodating pale buttery yellow.


It too will move  - to complement Thalictrum 'Silk Stockings' in the back garden, which needs a leafy neighbour to highlight its black stems. 'Jackie's stamens will also complement the Thalictrum's misty purple flowers


A dark pink combination I'm pleased with is the fuzzy caterpillars of a Sanguisorba with the blowsy flowers of an old red peony, one of the few plants still here in the garden when we bought this place.


I'm also happy with the way Clematis x durandii is using the structure of Hydrangea quercifolia 'Sike's Dwarf' as supports for its cobalt-blue flowers. In the foreground is Geranium x magnificum.


One of my more recent acquisitions (thank you, Jane) is Arisaema triphyllum, a native of eastern Canada. Various common names include jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip or wild turnip. It was getting a bit too enthusiastic in the garden so I moved it to a tall pot and placed it by our back steps. That way, you can see the intriguing flowers without having to crouch. Right now it's flourishing, even though the pot is in rather more afternoon sun than it would really like.