Summer with the Bees in Scotland

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Inula magnifica, at the Bees, August 2016

A lightening dash to Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago gave me the chance to swap my burnt-to-a-crisp garden for one that was overflowing with colour, insects and gorgeous things all doing beautifully in fine, Scottish weather.  It is always a delight to visit a friend’s garden as you can really have a good nosey around and also spend a long time chewing over the ins and outs of this or that plant.  Time flies.  So, in the Scottish garden was a full-tilt flowerer, Inula magnifica, and true to name, a bee arrived at the right moment on the Bees’ Inula.  I don’t grow this as I am pretty sure it would want more moisture than I can give it, but it is such a splendid thing reaching 2m in height and standing proud with great, billowing leaves. I do grow Telekia speciosa, which is a first cousin, and I love it, though here right now we are talking plant corpse condition.  Fatter centres and more stumpy petals on the Telekia would seem to be the main difference between the two.

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Telekia speciosa, Tostat, June 2015
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Dahlias on top of their game, the Bees, August 2016

Fabulous and super-sized dahlias were doing magnificently. I am embarassed to show you any of mine other than Dahlia Twynings After Eight, which has been the exception to the rule this year of stunted growth, repeated brutal attacks by slugs and snails and no flowers. Ah well.

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Dahlia Twynings After Eight, Tostat, July 2016
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The Shed, the Bees, August 2016

I adore this shed.  I wish I could steal in during the night and whisk it away to Tostat, where, admittedly, it would look very Scottish next to our pigshed, currently under renovation.  This shed is so solid and serious about what it does.  I love the home made table outside with potting stuff on it, and the sense of considerable work in progress. Yum.

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Persicaria amiplexicaulis Alba, the Bees, August 2016

I love the see-through delicacy of this new-to-me white Persicaria, Persicaria amiplexicaulis ‘Alba’ which has been planted in the midst of an elegant Miscanthus, and the two are a very good match.

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Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’, the Bees, August 2016

This is such a good plant.  The dark, wine-red stems, handsome green, tinting towards autumn foliage, and the custard yellow flowers with extravagant centres, studded as if with jewels.  Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’ is a trouble-free plant, only wanting enough moisture to fully develop its stately presence, up to about 1.25m high and wide.  With me this year, it has faded fast before even flowering, but I am sure it will return next year to try again.

And there were white lilies on the other side of the Miscanthus, not far from the Persicaria, still blooming and lighting up the gloomy end of the afternoon. They really demonstrate so well the power of white and pale colours to bring luminescence where you need it.

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Lilies snuggling up to Miscanthus, the Bees, August 2016

And, lastly, there was a mountain of tumbling sweetpeas, bringing colour and freedom to a pyramid wire structure- and just a glimpse of the beautiful brick wall which encloses this part of the garden.  Which always reminds me of one of my favourite books as a child, ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

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Lovely, tumbling sweetpeas, the Bees, August 2016

“…And then she took a long breath and looked behind her up the long walk to see if any one was coming. No one was coming. No one ever did come, it seemed, and she took another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly–slowly.

Then she slipped through it, and shut it behind her, and stood with her back against it, looking about her and breathing quite fast with excitement, and wonder, and delight.

She was standing inside the secret garden…”

from Chapter 8, ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, published in 1909.