Where do I start? I can hardly believe it is over a month since I have been here – I had intended a quick return after my two week holiday in Dubai but the weeks have flown by without time to sit down and put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard but that just doesn’t have the same ring!). The garden is transitioning into summer with the last of the flowering shrubs, the first roses, bearded iris and a host of biennials adding colour to the beds. Asparagus and rhubarb is in full flow and I have broad beans and peas that will be ready to eat in a week or two. I am hoping to find the time to pick the first gooseberries this week to make a gooseberry jelly and a delicious muscatel cordial and I still need to go around the garden doing the ‘Chelsea Chop’.
The year really does feel like it is racing away – spring has been so beautiful but its final days are now marked by the arrival of the peonies. These beautiful blousy flowers are popping open all over my garden – the result of spending the last 7 years indulging my peony addiction by adding ever more plants to my beds.
Last year was a complete peony disaster with almost all of my buds rotting on the stems before they opened. May and June were cold and very wet last year and my peony beds in the Cutting Garden were flooded for quite a long time causing all kinds of problems – I did fear for the long term health of my plants but they have bounced back with vigour this year. The spring has been warm and dry and the peonies have responded by producing the best crop of buds I have ever seen – I am keeping my fingers crossed they will all result in beautiful blooms like the three that I cut to share with you today. These are Bowl of Beauty in the centre, Alexander Fleming to the left and Sarah Bernhardt to the right.
I think the warm spring has brought all the peonies and bearded irises out early this year – I am not sure I have ever had so many flowers in May before. I hope that the very heavy rain showers we are having this week will not do too much damage.
I have put the peonies in a jug with some lovely lilac and pink stocks today. Stocks are a flower that always frustrate me in the growing process, but they are an absolute delight when the flowers appear. The seed for these stocks was sow in January and kept under cover until mid April. I planted some plants under cover in my greenhouse bed and the rest outside, but there was only about a weeks difference in the flowering date. The advantage of having some under cover is that they won’t be flattened by the heavy rain, so I will probably do the same thing next year. Also they look lovely flowering in the greenhouse at the feet of the sweet peas which are pumping out the flowers now.
I planted a combination of lavender stock seeds and a mix called Turkish Delight which is a gentle array of pink, lilac and white shades. The seeds were from Plants of Distinction and although stocks are usually thought of as late spring flowers these are called All Year Stocks and say they can be sown year round – I am going to sow a couple more trays to see if I can have stocks later in the year.
We had a fabulous holiday in Dubai and I came back feeling very refreshed, although it feels like a long time ago now. I will try and write a post about our holiday soon and share some photos of our trip with you. Another post which I really must write is about the Gather & Grow workshop which took place on 4th May. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and hope that our attendees had as much fun as we did! I did not get as many photos as I would have liked – I was a bit busy on the day – but there is a video which you can watch on my Instagram account and I will try to post it here when I write up the day. Gather & Grow for Summer is taking place on 22nd June and there are a couple of places left if anyone is interested. This time I will be concentrating on getting the most from your garden roses and growing annuals and biennials for a flower filled summer and Brigitte will be using the roses, annuals, herbs, fresh foliage and any peonies that are still flowering to create a beautiful summer centrepiece.
Last week I made it back to the Chelsea Flower Show after a 3 year break and had a very inspiring day. I have come back full of ideas to add more interest to my borders and I am keeping my fingers crossed for a beautiful addition to the garden that I am hoping to buy. Next week I might be visiting the new RHS show at Chatsworth which is very exciting – I went to Chatsworth for the first time with my mother last September, so it will always hold a special place in my heart as the last house and garden visit we made together.
As ever on a Monday I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase every week of the year. I am not doing to well with the every week bit this year, but I have set my aim for the year to really get on top of my garden and I am spending a lot of time outside getting my hands dirty, leaving very little free time for my photography or writing. I do feel that progress is happening though and although I will never be completely on top of this garden I am at least feeling a little less overwhelmed.
So, with a list of posts I would like to share with you, as well as a long overdue catch up of goings on in the garden, I will say goodnight and wish you a very happy gardening week!