It’s taken me a while to find a suitable moment to take photographs of the garden for June’s End of Month View, hosted as usual by Helen at The Patient Gardener. Gusts, rain, glancing sunshine, and a full-time job do not good photos make. What’s more, adding to the aesthetical difficulties was the sad spectacle of bedraggled, windswept, slugchewed, topsy-turvy plants, and a back garden that was particularly All About Weeds (mainly creeping buttercup), thanks to recent time constraints. In fact, the whole place is looking less Bette Davis and more Lindsey Lohan on one of her heavier nights, and was most definitely giving off ‘don’t pap me’ vibes. However, the wonderful thing about social meeja is that you can present the world with a sexed-up version of reality by zooming in on the good bits and brushing over the bad bits, so that’s pretty much what I’m going to do.
Firstly, let’s turn our backs on the troublesome front garden for a moment, and observe the calm, handsome, sandstone walls of the tenement, so sturdy and reassuring in their austerity, tall and silent, a veritable Mr Darcy of walls. What better embellishment to this stern edifice than another literary friend, the David Austen rose, ‘A Shropshire Lad’? Tied along wires to promote flowering, it has obliged with several buds, which syncopate onto the painted bench most wistfully. I wish you could smell them.
Now, at our feet we notice a little potted clematis, ‘Filigree’. A clematis in a pot, you ask? Well, this is a first-of-its-kind creeping or mounding clematis, which grows only a foot or so and can be allowed to meander about through borders or hang from baskets or pots. Unfortunately, the slugs came to hear of it, and taking the name ‘Filigree’ quite literally, have reduced all of its flowers to a holey mess. Rather a shame as it is certainly the prettiest clematis I have ever encountered.
All right, we can’t look at this wall forever, lovely though it is. Turn around, face the garden, and let’s look for the positive spots. Immediately, the first two things that stand out are the delphiniums and the geraniums.
When in doubt, plant a geranium, and this vibrant offering, which came as unwanted seedlings from my mother’s garden (“Oh, those things”, she remarked disdainfully when she saw them), have been a delight. Also a delight are the delphiniums, grown from seed last year and pretty much ignored by the slugs (don’t ask me how). I adore tall plants.
Foxgloves are another tall, perennial favourite of mine (and of the bees), which will have their place in the front garden for eternity. The apricot ones were sown from seeds kindly sent to me by Julie at Peonies and Posies.
Elsewhere spikes of white and pink snapdragons poke through the foliage, and Rosa ‘Boscobel’ has opened its buds. Here and there I’ve allowed a few ox-eye daisies to flower, and some Cerinthe major is stoically battling the wind, looking not nearly as happy as its fellows that I planted on the sunnier, more sheltered side of the building. Sweetpeas are making their way reluctantly up the obelisks and some Clematis montana cuttings are ready for planting out. I’ve considered allowing the montana to grow through the privet hedge, but so far haven’t thought of how the hedge would be trimmed, and could just see the whole caboodle getting larger and taller as the years go by.
Now, I haven’t shown the back garden for a while, mainly through embarrassment at its incomplete state and, erm, it’s being a complete state. Don’t you just want to get stuck into those border edges with a sharp edging tool? But never mind, because finally the path is finished. All I need to do now is build the paved terrace alongside the tenement for our woodpile and the bins, barbecue and other equally attractive objects, and thus finish up the pile of bricks which currently bedecks the grass and has been strategically avoided in these photos. That social meeja thing again.
Around the edge of the terrace we have Dianthus ‘something or other’ (B&Q special offer, 4 for £10, name witheld from label in fine example of Dumbing Things Down for the revolting masses).
Of all the annuals I sowed this year, Cerinthe Major is hands-down the most successful, loveliest, vase-perfect, bee-perfect, garden perfect plant ever to have graced a corner of Scotland. My cosmos got ate, my verbena refused to grow, my cleomes were drownded, my ammi are still only 2 inches tall, but the Cerinthe, my goodness, have been just the ticket. This week I paired them in a handblown glass vase with ox-eye daisies and green honesty seedheads, and placed it among the dishes on a ‘pot-luck’ table for our former neighbours, and most fetching was the effect. I didn’t take any photos but will recreate it for this coming Monday’s vase.
Elsewhere some more of my mother’s geraniums are blooming most prettily. I think the lupin was hers too, and the incredible allium, whose name she will no doubt obligingly provide in the comments section below. Really, I think the garden would be half empty if I removed all the plants that my mother has donated.
This rather jolly clematis below, which is brightening up the crumbling old wall, is called ‘Sunset’. The back garden is my ‘bad taste’ garden, where I put all my most vibrant and colourful plants with no caution to clashing colours. Sometimes the effect is serendipitously pleasant, such as with ‘Sunset’ and its Digitalis ‘alba’ neighbours, or with this lilac geranium against a backdrop of white delphinium and Gladiolus ‘The Bride’ (the latter another parental donation). Sometimes not so much, as with some yellow day lillies beside a purple heather.
The soil in the back garden is fairly poor, having been dug up and moved around so much, and so the plants here haven’t embraced life with 100% vigour yet. Nonetheless, my sweetpeas are doing better than their compatriots in the front garden, and the quality of the soil is slowly improving. Meanwhile, pots are handy. A Sempervivum in a pot on our patio table is doing boisterously, my two stepside variegated hollies are in stately form, and this little wall arrangement looks good above the patio. Shame about the Christmas tree that’s blocking it from view in real life.