Bowing to the lilies…

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Primula auricula ‘Jungfrau’, Tostat, May 2018

My early morning follows a very ritualistic pattern. Up around 8, now I am in a retired state, there is no way I am carrying on with 0600 get-ups.  Dog and cats sorted, then out into the garden for a circuit, carrying a large mug of tea, which gets me half way round and then I make another for the second half.  En route, the strange ‘bowing to the lilies’ thing happens. Were a complete stranger to be observing me, this is exactly what it would look like. A slow dropping bow to the left, and then up, followed by the same on the right.  Of course, I know that I am merely checking for the red lily beetle, but the other day I caught myself at the bowing, and it made me laugh.  So the silent observer would then have seen laughing out loud followed by mad muttering to self.

Lucky there is no-one looking really.  Other strange things happening include double auriculas suddenly deciding to have one single flower or two in the group- very odd.  I bought these auriculas as tiny little plugs years ago at Chelsea in my major plant smuggling period.  They just about hang on here, in the shade in the summer, and then pick up enough to flower in the Spring, usually in March.  Not this year.  I am rather fond of the blackberry custard colouring of ‘Jungfrau’, and I love the deep caramel of ‘Bill Bailey’, but look what he’s gone and done.  Now the odd thing about ‘Bill Bailey’ who has always been a double with deep caramel, as per the two flowers in the photograph, is that Wootton’s show Bill as more like the strange single flower that popped up this year.  I think that auriculas must be more promiscuous than I had realised.  A mystery.

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Primula auricula ‘Bill Bailey’, Tostat, May 2018

Meantime, the part of the garden with a more formal look, low-hedged oblongs with paths crossing them, has undergone a major rejuvenation.  The upside of this is that it is really wearing the transformation well- the downside is that I have promised on a stack of bibles to be tidier around the place.  My hidey-holes for old pots and whatnot, an awful lot of whatnot, have all gone and so I am exposed as a pretty poor tidier-upper.  I am trying to reform.

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View looking South down the crossing path, past my big pot (Xmas), Tostat, April 2018
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Looking the other way in the evening light, Tostat, April 2018
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Featuring the big pot, Tostat, April 2018

I love our old roof tiles edging the gravel- we just had enough as they break so very easily.  And 00s of wheelbarrow trips brought the gravel round from the pile outside the front of the house- thank you Jim and Andy both.  It’s not quite my old, more sloppy way of doing things- and it will be a discipline for me.  But I am reminded, again, of what I know- that jumbly, carefree planting, and the tolerance of a certain amount of weedery, is vastly helped by some formality that creates definition.  You need both- freedom and discipline.  Maybe the auriculas are trying to tell me that.



Comeback kids…

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Unknown rose, Tostat, April 2017

One of the joys of wandering round the garden at this time of year is discovering the ‘comeback kids’- those plants that may already be in the last chance saloon or who may have had a rough year last year.  This unknown climbing rose growing on an arch has always lived dangerously.  It is one of those early flowering roses that, normally, can easily be completely decimated and reduced to sodden rags by a wet Spring.  And it has also fallen victim, I think, to some slightly over the top path weedkilling (yes, we do do this a couple of times a year- sorry.) which must have just nipped it.  So, a couple of years ago, it was back to twig size entirely due to our sloppiness.  But this year, a dry Spring, lots of sunshine and not too much wind, has taken it back to pole position on top of and covering the arch, and it is looking glorious.  It always pays to wait.

Another plant that has pulled through is Deinanthe caerulea ‘Blue Wonder’. I bought it on a whim a couple of years ago and have been seriously underwhelmed- till now.  I loved it for the strange, pointy leaves, and have always found the weird flowers odd, firstly they barely qualify as ‘blue’ and are certainly not wondrous.

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Deinanthe caerulea ‘Blue Wonder’, Tostat, April 2017

Bu this morning, I was really reminded about why I bought it.  The vibrant lime-green leaves are flaunting their point-iness, and it is looking luminous in the morning sunshine. Here is a photograph of the underwhelming flower from last year.  It has a lovely structure, but the wishy washy colouring is not much cop.  But, if you like the foliage, I would recommend it in a pot, as so far growth is very slow, and it measures about 40cms x 40cms, so it would easily get drowned out in a boistrous border situation.  It likes semi-shade and moisture- which is the main reason for it being in a pot with us.

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Deinanthe caerulea ‘Blue Wonder’, Tostat, July 2016

Now for a tiny sensation, Dianthus deltoides ‘Flashing Light’.  I am not one for tiny plants, but I love red, and this one really packs a punch, even though it is even tinier than Dianthus cruentus.  One of the bargain basement purchases at the beginning of winter last year that I can easily fall prey to, this very small dianthus is very pretty and very tiny.   The sparkling red, not shown well in my photograph, makes it like Barbie jewellery in the hot, dry border. Only in it’s first year, I am hoping it will like us and get going next year.

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Dianthus deltoides ‘Flashing Light’, Tostat, April 2017
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Choisiya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’, Tostat, April 2017

Bright like toothpaste, this Choisiya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’ is blooming fit to bust this Spring-Summer.  This was a refugee from the hotter, drier border about 5 years ago, where it had toiled as a twig for 3 years while I frowned at it.  Not surprisingly, I wasn’t listening to it but since I finally did, and moved it to a more moist position, it has galloped away.  The fragrance is lovely and so are the flowers close-up.  Just shows what you can encourage if you abandon stubbornness and listen to what your plants are saying.  Note to self.

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‘Aztec Pearl’ close-up, Tostat, April 2017
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Primula auricula ‘Jungfrau’, Tostat, April 2017

I adore this little Auricula.  At Chelsea in 2015, I risked buying a set of five plug Auriculas from sheer sentimentality.  I had some which had travelled with us across Scotland when we lived in Linlithgow, and they loved a rocky wall, with good soil, cool temperatures and moisture.  None of which I have here in Tostat.  So, for a couple of years they have hung on, planted out in a wide bowl in semi-shade and watered regularly.  This year, after almost caving-in in the winter, two of them have flowered for the first time.   I am so thrilled.  And surprised that it is the cool beauty of ‘Jungfrau’ that I prefer to the more bling-y ‘Crimson Glow’.  There you go.

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Primula auricula ‘Crimson Glow’, Tostat, April 2017