in various stages of undress
I have never really admired peonies before; they tend to flop, droop and dangle their massive blooms all over the place. My garden is very windy and peonies need staking and confining if I don't want their primadonna ways to smother their less ostentatious neighbours. Their frilly knickered glory is also short-lived and I have been rather ruthless with them up to now. But plants are like books to me, I wouldn't deliberately kill one or give it away to any other than a really good home; as peonies don't take kindly to being transplanted I have had to tolerate them in my borders.
But in a vase they look spectacular. So that's where they will end up from now on. A worthy setting for the star of the show.
Whereas the Weigela, covered in a mass of pink blossom, is a welcome addition to the May/June borders, being self-sufficient, hardy and very sturdy. Above all, its scent is gorgeous, sweet and fruity. It is also perfectly happy to be pruned back after flowering and will spend the rest of the year in the shadows, lending its green leaves to the lush background so very necessary to give structure to an English country garden with its emphasis on herbaceous planting.
Bob The Flower and his assistant grow annuals, a few easily propagated herbaceous plants and one or two common shrubs and sell them at weekends in summer in a car park in the centre of Craven Arms.
Bob started about ten years ago in a small field he rented from a local landowner. He now does a roaring trade. People mainly come for his trays of bedding annuals, hanging basket and container plants, as soon as the danger of night frost is over. I bought a whole carbootful of annuals and container plants, all garishly coloured, to fill the many gaps left in my borders by the killing frosts of last winter.
Bob's plants are cheaper than those from expensive nurseries; he also sells vegetable seedlings. I bought French beans, beetroot, courgette and lettuce (little gem) plants from him. I really couldn't grow vegetables more effortlessly or cheaper.
Plenty of arse over elbow action going on at Bob The Flower's
When we got home this chap was waiting for lunch. We only seem to have one grey squirrel, although they normally hunt in large packs. He has been with us for years, has made his home in the owl box in the horse chestnut tree, regularly steals the bird food and uses the birds' drinking dish for a bidet.
I am not fond of tree rats, which is all grey squirrels are, but one chap, so long as he doesn't bring his missus and expect us to subsidise a large brood of layabout dependants, well, where's the harm.