Saturday, 3 July 2010

Gardener's Reprieve

It's July,
and a period of leisure has at long last arrived for those
engaged in gardening for recreation only.
Now is the time to sit back and enjoy.

Round about the time of the Chelsea Flower Show
I give clumps of many herbaceous perennials what is known as
"The Chelsea Chop",
i.e., I cut them down almost to ground level.
This ensures a second period of flowering fairly quickly,
and it means that flower beds remain interesting - and tidy - for most
of the season. Pruning of shrubs that have finished flowering
 is over, those that are still flowering can wait until later.
 Birds are busy with second and possibly third clutches,
which means that I leave hedges alone until I am sure that
the youngsters have flown the nest.

The only work to be done in ornamental gardens now
is watering during dry periods, deadheading, feeding, weeding
and, of course, mowing the lawn.

Siting in the garden,
and not getting up to work,
is far harder than working,
as any gardener will tell you.

So I went round and took a few photos.

This is part of  my 'hot' border,
where I grow herbs like this thyme,
wavy-hair grasses and houseleeks.

Dublin Bay performs year after year.
She embraces and smothers her large metal climbing frame
and flowers with abandon for many weeks over the summer.

The sea holly (Eryngium)
also does best in a dry and sunny border. As its name name implies, 
sea holly is very happy in gardens by the sea.
But it does equally well here in the Shropshire Hills.

Nevada is a large rose, 7ft by 7ft.,
with creamy white, semi-double blooms of about 4" across.
At dusk they remind me of  floppy white handkerchiefs.

In my experience, Nevada likes fairly drastic removal of old wood if it is
to keep up its performance over the years. It gives a wonderful show early in the
season, when it is smothered with blooms all along its stems.
It has intermittent, less generous  crops later on.

 This is 'Graham Thomas',
an English Rose, widely sought after for
its wonderful colour and delicate tea scent.
 This photograph doesn't fully show the 
very unusual, rich and deep,  pure yellow colour,
without a hint of lemon.

   The blooms are cup shaped, and formed like a Paeony;
It will flower profusely all summer and is very easy to grow
and undemanding.

Another beauty, "Guinee", a climber.
Very hard to photograph; 
I've tried it in bright sunshine, on gloomy days, at dusk, early in the morning.
This rose is the darkest of all garden roses, almost black.
Its velvet like texture makes it appear dull and lifeless in our cloudy
English climate. But on bright, sunny days it glows with a smooth, purplish sheen.
It is very pleasantly scented, not sweet, but fragrant and slightly tangy.

Guinee flowers profusely in late June and early July, but subsequent flowering is sparse.
It has stiff and rigid stems and is best grown on walls.

Guinee is one of these rare, very showy beauties, very demanding, needing a lot of attention, 
instant and constant deadheading, lots of feeding and treatment for mildew.
You either love it or hate it.
Not many gardeners grow it.
 Everybody who sees it at its best is instantly smitten.
It is the one rose which has knots of admiring visitors standing in front of it
on 'Open Garden' days, sniffing it, cradling a bloom in both hands, feeling the texture,
writing down its name.

 I always warn people about its capricious nature, 
 It can be exasperating, but I wouldn't want to be without it. 

Rosa Rugosa is a completely different animal. Easy to grow, will sucker almost
like a weed, is very large and prickly and therefore wonderful in hedges.
There is nothing special about rosa rugosa, it comes in purplish pink and white,
needs no special treatment, can be cut down to ground level, yet still comes back obediently.
A proper workhorse.

Apart from its usefulness, rugosa has one special, redeeming feature, 
namely the huge, orangey hips in autumn,
which will look very attractive for a long time and my birds love them.

I couldn't resist taking this close-up
of the tiny open flowers of the common thyme.
A herb is a herb is a herb, 
there's little to say about it,
but, by golly, a patch of flowering thyme can stop you in your tracks.

PS:  For anybody wondering, gardener is still alive.
He's been chain-sawing trees today, under strict supervision.


  1. I love the flowering thyme! And your roses are beautiful. I don't grow any hybrid roses, they take more care than I am willing to give, especially down here. But I have red and pink 'antique' roses all over that bloom profusely all summer after a spectacularly resplendent burst in spring.

    We've been housebound here for four days from all the rain from the hurricane that came ashore at the tip of Texas. So soggy out!

  2. Oh ... I had this fantasy of you having buried him in the garden!!!

    Your garden is divine Friko! You seem to know and care for every precious plant like a dear child.

    I especially liked your sea holly, as I don't think I have seen it before. Very showy in such a grand cluster.

    Did you indicate that you have community garden tours ... or an 'open house' event for your garden? I'll come for that too, and hope you have an evening meal or a luncheon planned in the garden. (But not near the grave please!)

  3. Wow and more wow! You are rewarded for all your hard work. Some of my garden is lovely now and some is tired and waiting for fall. Almost all of the beds are still young and therefore, some need spaces made and others need spaces filled. I will look for the Thursday link and post it on my next post.

  4. Your garden is magnificent. Thanks for sharing. I was particularly impressed by Nevada and then I realized each flower was not 7ft x 7ft. It is still beautiful and finding a vase for a 7ft x 7ft blossom would be tricky anyway:)

  5. What a treat to see a bit of your garden! Guinee is a beauty -- repaying all your care.

  6. Oh!
    I have never seen/heard of Dublin Bay before, and it's wonderful...the Guinee is marvelous. I like "almost black" flowers just for their difference. The sea holly looks sort of like a cross between mountain bluet and thistle...I've never seen that before either.
    And of course the other roses and the thyme are wonderful.
    Quite a showplace you have, and a lot of work. You should feel proud of yourself, and sit back and enjoy for a half hour here and there.

  7. Just like when I used to take a walk with a friend of my mother's. She is where much of my interest in nature came from. Pointing out and explaining every blossom, the leaf patterns, how to identify the family (genus?) by the shapes, etc.

    Your flowers are amazing to me. Thank you for inviting me to come along.

    And thank you again for stopping by my blog and following.

  8. So glad you posted photos of that wonderful bed of thyme - what a great showing! And all the roses you have too - only the tough unassuming Therese Bugnet shrubs survive my winters. Every time I need a rose fix, I will come back and visit your garden images. Thank you for sharing.

  9. You know I can't fully share in the delight of your garden, being as ignorant as I am, but I am most intrigued by the transformation of Friko the Townie to Friko the Ardent Gardener. How long did it take to you to become so intimate with your plants? (There is no facaetiousness in my comment, by the way. And why the hell don't these boxes have spell-check?)

  10. I'd been fondly admiring my rose bush , just the one in a big pot , valiantly waving three pink flowers . Then I came in and saw your magnificent display .

    I might need a couple more pots now . "Nevada " and its soup-plate size blooms is very tempting ....

  11. Gorgeous garden! Like Deborah, I'm a bit to ignorant on the subject to fully appreciate your work. But, Oh My! Just beautiful.
    Thanks so much for sharing it.

  12. Hello Friko
    I recently began following your blog. What a beautiful garden you have!
    We have a Rosa Rugosa hedge and last year I made some rosehip syrup from the hips.
    Your 'Guinee' climbing rose is very attractive. I have a weakness for dark-coloured flowers.

  13. Beautiful photos - especially the roses and thyme.
    All that pruning, dead-heading and chopping may give you a few minutes rest, but I can't believe that you'll be able to sit in contemplation for very long.
    I've made note of everything that does well in dry conditions. We are about to leave our cool, wet spring and enter into our warmish, very dry summer. Whatever can't survive and thrive on little water is out, out, out.

  14. I'm glad gardener is still alive. What a beautiful place you have.

  15. Hi Friko - so glad Gardener's had a reprieve. Your garden looks wonderful - I'm still trying to control the weeds here and failing miserably.

  16. Oh Friko, you sure do have a lovely collection of blooms in your garden. I could learn a lot from you. Your descriptions sound like you have a wonderful relationship with your wonderful vegetation.

  17. I could watch garden work all a long Summers' afternoon!

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  18. What a totally beautiful garden you have.

  19. ellen abbott - oops - want to borrow my wellies?

    Bonnie - yes, I do have 'open garden' occasions, people come and pay an entrance fee; the money goes to charity. I also sell them all my spare plants, but no meals; for meals you have to go to the tea shop. i would make an exception in your case, though.

    Tabor - gardening is a work in progress. Even an established garden always has holes. Mine is full of them this year after the frosts. It'll be an opportunity to replant differently.
    Look forward to the link.

    ER - how about using an ornamental building aid? A crane? With a bucket at the top?

    Vicki Lane - she sure is but like a beautiful woman, very labour-intensive.

    Thank you June, I'll do my best. Trouble is, gardening like having their bottoms in the air rather than on seats.

  20. June - that should have been gardeners, of course.

  21. Reflections - Nice to know this blog is following in the footsteps of someone you liked. I am happy to follow your blog. See you there.

    taylorsoutback - Patricia, we have more than 55 different roses in the garden. I don't know the names of all of them. But all of them are beautiful. They are mostly David Austin roses.

    deborah - Friko the townie and Friko the gardener are one and the same, you get two for the price of one. I am very intimate with my plants, I breed them, split them, cultivate them and finally discard them. And it takes no time at all, just a ruthless and determined nature.

    S&S - Don NOT put Nevada in a pot. She'll split its seams before you can get the pruning shears out. Nevada needs space.

    Kate - thanks for your kind comment.

    Christine - Hi there, you'll have seen that I've visited you too. You can surely grow any rose where you are. Your rain is even wetter than ours.

  22. Pondside - Very sensible. I have yet to learn that sort of common sense, I will always try 'just one more time' to grow a totally unsuitable plant and then spend a whole season cursing it, pampering it and still lose it at the end.

    marciamayo - he doesn't deserve to be. Thanks for the appreciation.

    mollygolver - You are doing it wrong, just grow so many things that the weeds get lost in the crush. That's what I do.

    Hilary - I love my plants. You could call me a 'plantswoman' as well as a gardener. I want them all well and healthy.

    Cloudia - you could, could you? well, don't come here, I'll soon set you to work.

    Vagabonde - thank you very much.

  23. Fabulous pics, Friko. I love to see great swathes of colour, banks of a particular thing - gorgeous!

    I've never heard of the 'Chelsea Chop' - but may have inadvertently performed one (literally) on the Lupins. I am encouraged.


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