Thriving on Neglect

My neglect of this blog is symptomatic of my neglect of the garden as a whole. Somehow I lost control just as the garden peaked in midsummer and since then the borders have greeted me mournfully on my return from work each day.

I have always struggled with late summer colour in the garden. The torch lilies I have planted seem to be varieties that flower earlier in the spring, while the calla lilies and canna lilies that promise colour until the first frosts stubbornly refuse to flower for more than a few short weeks. I have only found one dahlia (‘Rose Quartz’) to fulfil my theme and, if I’m able to nurse them through our cold springs, it is a martyr to slugs.

And so I find myself reliant on the final flush from the roses to lift my spirits as I realise another gardening year has passed without achieving a fraction of what I had hoped. Here ‘Super Trouper’ shines out from the corner of the north east bed.

Next to it, the survivor rose rescued from Copse Hill is in bud. The unnamed red rose next to the front door continues to bloom despite several pruning accidents. It seems to have flowering continuously since May.

Etoile d’Hollande is also resurgent on the other side of the front door, this bud emerging from new growth put on since summer pruning. The pink roses we inherited on moving in however speak of my neglect. Those close to the house are enjoying a late flush of flowers which contrast with the hips on those I failed to prune further round the crescent.


Tea and Inspiration 

On Sunday I had the opportunity to visit a nearby garden open as part of the National Gardens Scheme. On a completely different scale to my own the garden was planted with a stunning selection of azaleas and rhododendrons, many of them scented.

It’s unlikely that I will ever plant an azalea dell or a rhododendron walk but I still found inspiration, like these naturalised camassias (one I bought three years ago still lurks in its original pot).

Wild garlic lined a shaded path while an informal avenue reminded me to value the calm green of our trees which I often bemoan for a lack of blossom.

Lilacs were another feature of the garden. This lilac walk reminded me of my own solitary lilac and the need to buy more. Elsewhere they formed the centerpiece of more formal planting.

This more formal section of the garden featured some lovely planting combinations including this golden rose peeking out from behind a white clematis. And then there were the peonies…

Fresh greens

Last weekend the garden at AV Acres seemed to be all about the emerging foliage. There were few new flowers but suddenly all the herbaceous perennials emerged from their winter sleep while the shrubs and trees slipped on their summer coats as if for a wedding. The congregation are just waiting for the bridal party to enter the church.

Plantain lilies emerging from the north east and north west beds despite the slugs’ best efforts.

Hardy calla lilies fighting back after being nipped by the late frosts.

The contrasting foliage of rosa rugosa in the north east bed and Etoile d’Hollande by the front door.

Decisions, decisions

I recently decided to create an informal hedge of filberts, guelder roses and roses along the eastern boundary of the front garden. My hope is that this will create a better backdrop for the north-east border than the neighbours’ cars. 

Don’t get me wrong, our neighbours are lovely. It’s just that my planting doesn’t stand out terribly well against either their cars or the brickwork paving of the drive (I regularly bemoan how intrusive our own drive is).

The filberts and guelder roses are (or will be) grown from cuttings and seedlings but it’s a great opportunity to select some more roses. The colour scheme for this corner of the garden is orange through to yellow, colours I wouldn’t normally choose for roses. Fortunately a nursery I’ve used had a sail so, after an evening  studying the options, I’ve placed my order and am eagerly awaiting delivery.

Tidy Up Time

Last weekend featured a fair amount of tidying up. Sunday saw me finally clear up the north west bed, pruning back the roses and removing some of the older rose campions to make space for the new lenten rose, a transplanted kaffir lily (which I accidentally divided) and a small dog rose. The existing lenten roses looked so much better for having had the older foliage removed but my clay soil, that will have to be the subject of another post.

January flowers

 A Sunday catalogue of flowers in the front garden on a grey January day: 
This rose is a true survivor having been transplanted at least once at Copse Hill and regularly drowned under a sea of bindweed there. Now it and its sibling seem to be thriving in the north-east bed.

A delicate Christmas rose, bought from a garden stall in Norfolk.

A perfectly white Christmas (or is it a Lenten?) rose, which seems to be thriving despite having been transplanted in the autumn.

More Lenten roses, this time bought as seedlings from Copse Hill, and which seem to flower throughout the year.

Me lurking behind the last of the Christmas roses, this time an almost black one in the north-west bed.

Finally a kaffir lily struggling on despite the cold in the north-east bed.

A scene of devastation 


This is the scene of devastation that greets me every morning as we pull out of the drive. Although the weather has been mild the winter rain and wind has stripped the remaining leaves from the roses and flattened the stalks of the herbaceous perennials as they die back. On good days the Christmas roses, rose campions seedlings and rose hips give me hope, on bad days I find it hard to imagine it will recover.