The mega-lightening and thunder show last night over Tostat finally brought to an end our 4th or 5th mini-canicule or heatwave that we have had since early May- and at long last, a decent downpour has revived the garden which has been hanging on by it’s fingernails. The ground is well soaked, though, honestly, it will not have penetrated that far considering the general overall super-dryness, but I am not complaining at all. The green levels in the garden have been refreshed, and everything looks as if it has been through a carwash.
I am waiting for my book delivery before I review the summer-dryness situation properly. I need some inspiration to break the thinking habits I reckon.
But today is grey and overcast, which actually means that the garden gets a chance to absorb the rain and use it, as opposed to sticking it’s tin hat on again against the beating sun. And we had a quite a few days like this in England in June, after we had survived the two blisteringly hot days. Wandering around Gloucestershire and Winchcombe with our friends, some lovely little moments were to be had.
Helping Jill to water a friend’s garden, was a delight rather than a chore. A real plantsperson, the garden-maker had a stack of treats to see, for example, this stunning Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’ that I have read about but never actually seen before.
An enchantingly delicate, double white Geranium pratense, which I think is ‘Double Jewel’, also grew there, not a shouty plant at all, but very pretty. Unlikely to do well with me, but I can admire it all the same.
And it wasn’t all about rarity. This lovely combination below is achievable easily with very ordinary plants which work beautifully together- a spot of rigorous pulling out now and then needed for the lychnis probably, but that’s all.
I had forgotten how good hollyhocks are. Gloucestershire seemed to be full to bursting with them in all colours, but I really loved this vibrant red just outside the church in Winchcombe, which is really worth a visit by the way if you are passing.
This black Centaurea montana ‘Black Sprite’ was to be seen in various gardens, including Kiftsgate Court. It is a newish variety, but is absolutely gorgeous, with healthy and vigorous foliage and these stunning spidery flowers- and looks as if it should be easy as anything. I am searching for seed as we speak, there is more available in the US, so it may have to be bought there. Just discovered that our local perennials nursery has it- good for Bernard Lacrouts!
Also gorgeous was the statuesque Cephalaria gigantea, which was a frequent player in Gloucestershire gardens. It’s height, nearly 2m, and go-with-anything cream pincushion flowers, also the airy structure which on the whole seemed to take wind and rain in it’s stride, all these factors make it a lovely plant to try. I have already bought seed from Chiltern Seeds.
Rosa ‘Graham Thomas’ seemed to be the go-to yellow rose for many gardeners. Who can blame them? It is a cheerful, buoyant rose that seems to be pretty trouble-free, and, according to David Austin, it has been voted the world’s favourite rose.
A complex Dahlia this one, which I think is ‘Night Butterfly’, so it isn’t usually what I would go for, but mixing in with the Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ and offset by the creamy-yellow Thalictrum flavum ssp. glaucum ( I think!) I thought the combination was lovely, bringing vividness to a shadier spot.
I was so thrilled last week when I found, goodness knows how I hadn’t noticed it before, a surprise gladiolus growing in the very newest bit of border that I started this year. I am not a huge gladdie fan, but the colour of this one looked very promising and I couldn’t have chosen it better, if I had chosen it! But this morning, decapitated by the rain ( so you see, the obvious staking had not happened), it is reclining in a jug in the kitchen- ah well.