The first half of July was a damp squib across these isles, and I gratefully abandoned our shores for a week of gratuitous foreign sunshine mid-month. I returned a week ago, to find that summer had finally found her way here, and the garden had unfurled in the long-awaited sun and higher temperatures.
The field border, the earliest to be prepared and planted last year, incorporating the most plants preserved from the original neglected remnants of a garden here, is overflowing with foliage and colour.
Some familiar favourites from last year, such as the wonderful Eryngium planum ‘Blue Glitter’, have returned. The Leucanthemum that I reduced in size in the spring appears untouched by my ministrations, swathes of daisies still dancing across the border, this year joined by the vibrant raspberry cushions of a scabious raised from seed.
The unopened crimson buds look rather like another favourite, the Knautia macedonica, which is still liberally sprinkling the opposite border with its deep red flowers. Occasional poppies in scarlet and plum come and go amidst this swathe of daisies, although their presence is not as dominant here as last year, and Ammi majus which sparkled here last summer now romps in the new semi-circular border beneath the kitchen window.
I loved this border last year, despite its infancy, and worried that it would not have the same impact again, but it seems that it was a foolish worry, as already this year’s display has captured my heart once again.
The drifts of Salvia sclarea var. Turkestanica are majestic: this biennial is a plant that I will certainly grow again. Blue spires of Campanula pyramidalis have also begun to open towards the back of this border, and are every bit as beautiful as I hoped. Across the garden, handfuls of bright stars have also begun to creep up the stems of the white version, to dizzying effect amid bergamot and Verbena bonariensis.
This long border, which runs from the small terrace to the horse chestnut and beech trees, where the boundary kicks in a little before running down to the end, was planted later last year in sections. Already it has filled out, and in places it is hard to believe that it is so young. Verbena bonariensis runs riot near the house, handing over to the first Echinacea purpurea, drifts of Gaura lindheimeri, salvias and monardas and a host of other gems.
The Sidalcea malviflora sold as ‘Elsie Heugh’ is very deep pink, and I suspect that it is instead ‘Party Girl’, but it sits well in the verdant green foliage here against neighbouring reds and pinks of Monarda Cambridge Scarlet and Salvia microphylla ‘Wild Watermelon’.
There are gaps in both borders; at the back where shrubs have yet to fill out, where the magnificent Cardoon was felled by strong winds earlier in the year, and most noticeably at the front swell of the long border. But these will be filled, if not this year then certainly in the years to come, this is about creating a garden for the long term, not short fixes. With this in mind, already the garden is surpassing my expectations, and I am brimming with ideas for the seasons, indeed years, to follow.
It was a thrill to return from towering bottlebrush trees in the Mediterranean, to find our Callistemon fizzing with vibrant raspberry sherbert bristles, with bobbing purple tubes of penstemon flowers and the pale yellow discs of Potentilla sulphurea recta, a lovely sight.
As the month draws to a close, the temperatures have dropped again, and showers and winds have once again swept through, but there were a few glorious days.
It has been a bountiful time in the kitchen garden too, despite little sun and high rainfall and winds for much of the month, but I will have to save our harvests, successes and failures here for another post, along with the other thrills of the ornamental garden, as this end of month review is already rather long and exuberant!
Thanks to Helen, the Patient Gardener, for hosting this end-of-month view of the garden.