First year sleep, second year creep, third year leap!

Roses must be my favourite plants. Today we have our second autumnal type storm in June, sandwiching a heatwave. It’s down from 28C to 13C with a strong northeasterly and lots of rain. However this early summer period has produced a fantastic show of roses although some are looking a little beat up right now. So a chance to reflect on some of the varieties and give a crude score. We’ll start with the only two roses present when we moved in.

Alberic Barbier An old fashioned rambler nearly 30 feet wide in our garden. Lots of yellow flowers rapidly fading to white. The scent is light but with so many flowers it accumulates. Big flush now and then throws up small numbers of blooms through the summer. This rose is near evergreen here and is moderately thorny. 4/5

Golden Showers A slightly stiff upright climber, first introduced in 1956 by Lammerts, USA.. Big blowsy intensely yellow flowers with a very good tea scent. The blooms stand up very well to the weather. It flowers in two big flushes so deadhead thoroughly after the first flush. Good hips in the autumn. I have planted another at the front of the house. 4.5/5

I have since crammed in some twenty varieties, most now in their third season and after an intermittent start many have now leapt as in the old adage above.

Climbing Iceberg Said to be better than the shrub and so it has proved. Vigorous and covered in masses of long lasting pure white blooms which seem quite resistant to the weather. Quite flexible and easy to train. Light scent. Although reputed to be a bit prone to blackspot there is very little (my roses are sprayed). I expect a major deadheading session in a week or two and hopefully a big second flush. 5/5

Gertrude Jekyll Apple green foliage and very strong fruity scent. 4.5/5

The Generous Gardener Now quite vigorous with a moderate to strong scent which does carry. Proving a bit tricky to train as a bit stiff and young shoots tend to break off if not careful. 4/5

Little Rambler Tiny leaves and clusters of many tiny pink flowers with a moderate scent. Quite bushy with moderate growth. 4/5

A Shropshire Lad I have two of these on a pair of obelisks. A bit disappointing compared to its reputation. Scent is quite light and flowerheads prone to snapping off. 3/5

Night Owl Really good floribunda with large clusters of open deep purple flowers and a strong scent. 4/5

Keith Maughan Lowish climber with lots of small sharp thorns. Clusters of lovely single apricot flowers with a good scent. Spotted this in a local garden centre and one of my favourites. Introduced at Chelsea in 2008 by Peter Beales in memory of Keith who sounds like a good guy. 4.5/5

Scented Carpet Ground cover rose which is unexpectedly climbing up a wall pretty well. Clusters of single pink-lilac flowers with a very clean scent. 4/5

Summer pruning 2

After a busy summer it is time to start updating the blog. This summer has been a little strange with strong drying winds and wild swings in temperature. Some plants appear to have carried on regardless while others have flowered sporadically or late. The post below shows the result of summer pruning on catmint (Nepeta). Hacking back perennials in July when they are in full flower is a bit scary. However new shoots rapidly appear followed by new flowers after about three weeks. The plants look much better and keep going well into the autumn. If you don’t feel quite brave enough leave some of the old shoots.

Summer pruning 1

Not pruned
Not pruned
Pruned
Pruned 

Left to  its own devices the catmint is a bit grey and floppy with few new shoots and does not attract many bees.

 

 

Pruning in July produced a much more compact plant with many flowers and brighter leaves. Not least it attracts many more insects.

Spring has sprung (at last)

Spring has sprung, at least in the sense that I have been able to garden without my ski gear on. There are some clumps of old daffodils, the majority of which are to go. A few clumps are attractive and are to stay,  but are not identified. I started to plant anew in the autumn but, annoyingly, have lost the labels.

Old Daff, name not known
Old Daff, name not known
New daff, name forgotten
New daff, name forgotten

Winter scent

Sarcococca confusa
Sarcococca confusa

Winter has arrived. The sodden ground has frozen solid and there is a light dusting of snow. I have been trying to introduce scent as a major element in the garden with mixed results. I sometimes read of plants whose scent “fills the air” but in reality is quite elusive. A still day with just a hint of warmth or moisture is often required.  Another factor is that scent is intensely personal. One that delivers on all fronts, at least for me, is Sarcococca or sweet box. The plant above is Sarcococca confusa, photographed this morning. It is covered in tiny flowers but also retains some black berries. It is easy to grow and also easy to propagate as it produces small rooted suckers. The scent is powerful and does carry. A couple of sprigs will last a week indoors. It is sometimes a welcome finding in municipal planting schemes, a bank of it is prominent in Princes Street gardens in Edinburgh.

Another plant that seems to work is Mahonia. The one below is Mahonia japonica bealei. It is a little softer and less alien in appearance than some of the other varieties. I can also recommend Viburnum bodnantese Charles Lamont. I have put mine in the wrong place i.e. in the middle of a border where I have to clamber over other plants to appreciate its scent and lovely flowers. One reliable avenue to winter scent is to have some of the numerous evergreen plants whose foliage you can crush e.g. Rosemary, Choisya (Aztec pearl is good), Helichrysum and many others.

Mahonia bealei
Mahonia bealei

 

Buddleia and Butterflies

 

I placed four Buddleia Buzz, a dwarf variety, outside the kitchen patio doors. This was to attract butterflies and was very successful as you can see in this video:

This variety has quite short broad bright green leaves. It flowers a great deal with a good scent. It seems to have lost some of Buddleia’s traditional drought resistance. Two of the plants are in containers and need quite a bit of water. The ones in the ground are easier to maintain. When I walk out of the kitchen a cloud of butterflies rises. The video is from August 2015 with music played by me.

Autumn 2015

A low border
A low border

Autumn 2015 has been long and unusually warm over the whole country although we seem to be paying for it now with all the rain. With no hard frosts many plants continued to grow and to flower, a great bonus. The accompanying images are from October 10th. Geraniums, Crocosmia and catmint are in flower. The rose Golden Showers had a major autumn flush and flowered into December. Also seen below is Cosmos Gazebo White (cheap seeds from Wilko). This got off to a very slow start with the cold May and June but then produced hundreds of flowers. The rose is Lady Salisbury.

Rose Golden Showers
Rose Golden Showers
Cosmos with rose Lady Salisbury
Cosmos with rose Lady Salisbury

Christmas day 2015

Rose Schoolgirl
Rose Schoolgirl, Christmas

Christmas day continued the mild theme. I mowed the lawn on Christmas Eve. The day itself featured a variety of plants in flower including various roses (including Schoolgirl above), Erigeron, lavender, hellebores, Escallonia amongst the perhaps expected but unusually vigorous pansies, Viburnum Charles Lamont, Schizostylis and Sarcococca. Daffodils are on the way up and Japanese quince are in bud. This was the norm in Somerset where we lived previously but up here the garden is usually hibernating by now.

Erigeron
Erigeron, Christmas

Winter, briefly!

Well, we had a brief taste of winter in December 2015 as you can see. The heavy snow began to thaw then froze rapidly gluing many plants to the ground. The Sputnik like objects are my new rusted iron obelisks from Leander plant supports. I spent ages trying to find something between the cheap wiry ones and the massively heavy and expensive structures best suited to stately homes. They are each supporting Rose “A Shropshire Lad”. These are first season, planted bare root last spring and have done pretty well.

December 12, 2015
December 12, 2015

Welcome

Happy New Year from a wet and grey North Yorkshire. This blog is an attempt to express my passion for my garden, to record its development and, hopefully, to give some useful information and pleasure. The garden is composed of two rectangular walled gardens, 16x9m and 12x8m linked by a narrow opening. They are sheltered, particularly the rearmost. Here you can sit in comfort for much of the year. The long axis of each lies a couple of degrees off a north south line with the house on the eastern aspect. The header image above is from October 15, 2015 in this Indian summer. There is also a very small front garden. I have been here for two years and am gradually modifying an already established garden. I am no expert!