July Review

Garden, end of July 2012The 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.

Field border end of July 2012

Leucanthemum, scabious and Eryngium planum Blue GlitterThe 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.

Leucanthemum daisies against a background of dill flowers and Lynchis coronaria

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.

Leucanthemum, scabious and emerging buddleia

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.

Eryngium planum 'Blue Glitter'

Allium sphaerocephalonI 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.

Campanula pyramidalis 'Alba'

Part of long border, end of July 2012

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.

Echinacea purpurea

Sidalcea and Monarda Cambridge ScarletThe 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’.

Section of long border from house

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.

Gaps in planting at the front swell of the long border

Callistemon flowers

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.

Path to the kitchen garden, beneath the laden peach tree

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.


23 thoughts on “July Review

  1. Hi Sara, how do you manage to stop weeds growing in from the field next to your field border? One of ‘mine’ borders a field and I have nettle and couch grass and goose grass coming through the wire netting. Really annoying but impossible to weed properly. You don’t seem to have that problem? D

    • Ha, we don’t stop them either. I just have to keep on pulling them out, and more besides – big thistles and dandelions too. In fact about a month ago I spent the best part of a Saturday digging out the giant grasses, thistles, nettles etc that were taking over the young hedge plants we put in along the outer edge of that border. I hadn’t touched those weeds since early spring so they were pretty hefty, I was rather prickled and scratched by the time I reached the end of the border! Along behind the shed and greenhouse we just leave the weeds to it, as access is a bit limited. We get a good crop of nettles to make feed from. 🙂 The farmer does spray the perimeters of his field in spring, but after checking with us he misses the bit alongside our garden so as not to catch any of our plants as well.

  2. OH, so pretty, pretty, pretty! I hope you are really pleased with it, because you should be… And that meadow border – yum. I really like the leucanthemum, but though it can be a bit of thug, I think you’ve got it tamed.

    (I’m not going to say anything about your throwaway remark about a ‘bountiful time’ in the kitchen garden, because I’m not listening. Not listening, fingers in ears, not listening, tra la la la. Hrumpf.)

    • Thanks, I am pretty pleased. Even the gaps are pleasing as they mean I can squeeze more plants in ;). The leucanthemum has sprawled outwards leaving a bit of a hole in the middle, so I think I will split it before next year, and maybe have two or three smaller clumps that will be more compact. I removed about half of it in the spring, and it doesn’t seem any smaller than last year!
      It has been a terrible year for harvests, perhaps I should have scaled back my glee there, but some things have beaten the odds, the courgettes are coming in at a manageable size and pace instead of turning into monsters as soon as your back’s turned, and we seem to have squashes setting. I’m probably cheating wrt bountiful harvests, as the greenhouse, impervious to our crazy weather, is giving us lots of tasty tomatoes and cucumbers which have skewed my judgement. 🙂 And you have to keep optimistic. We have harvests. Hurrah. Not-going-to-talk-about-the-carrots-or-the-beans-that-were-munched.

  3. Lovely garden, gorgeous flowers. You have a stunning view from your garden. So far I’ve had quite a good harvest from my plot but we’re moving into a gap I think. The broad beans and peas are going over and the crops that should be filling their space are only just getting going after the warm weather kicked them into life. The slugs are at it again and have found my pots of carrots and have munched through them. I have no squashes yet and am resigned to not getting any this year now. Oh well!

    • Thanks. We are very lucky to have such views here, the winds are a small price to pay (mostly!). Definitely a hard year for edibles, our worst yet, but while there is something to pick and something still to come I don’t feel so bad.

  4. Your Callistemon looks lovely – I have been tempted to buy one (usually after returning from holiday) but have resisted so far. I think every plant in my veg garden is sporting holes or nibbled edges but produce is starting to appear…..finally.

    • My mother-in-law gave us the Callistemon as a tiny thing in a 9cm pot last year – it has really settled in well. I can’t remember whether she raised it from seed or a cutting, keep meaning to ask. We have a lot of nibbled edges too.

  5. your borders are beautiful Sara and I love the way your joy and excitment come through in your writing, you sound on a wonderful high, you have a lovely lot of variety of plants in your borders, when your irises bulk up the swell in the long border will soon be filled, great work and planning, Frances

    • Thanks Frances. The garden never fails to lift my spirits, there are so many beautiful things to enjoy at the minute, I didn’t dare put them all in one post, so it means there will be more to come soon I’m afraid ;). The Aster ericoides has spread really well at the edge of the ‘bald’ patch, and we also have geraniums and other clumps that should spread too, so I am not too troubled. There is as much serendipity as planning in our garden, the fairies are good to us ;).

  6. it looks so fresh and pretty. I love the daisies in the field border. My bottlebrush still hasnt flowered 😦

    • Thanks, I’m pleased with it. The daisies are fabulous again this year, though I need to divide them for next year as the centre of the clump is woody and there is quite a gap. Hope that your bottlebrush dazzles you soon.

  7. Your borders look amazing! Such a beautiful collection of flowers, especially the meadow border. I realised this year that I’m bored with mine, same old same old so might be time to dig up and replant next year. Very inspiring, especially knowing your garden isn’t very old. Bethx

    • Thanks Beth, despite the gaps I am really thrilled with it. Even last year it surprised me with the speed with which everything filled out, especially with the odd clump of cosmos taking over. They’re a little slower this year, but on their way…I love seeds for the ease with which you can throw something new together. Look forward to seeing what changes you make! S x

  8. Your garden looks amazing, but I’m looking forward to seeing how your veg have done too. That Callistemon bottlebrush bush looks interesting. I might have to get one. Does the plant grow very big? (space in my garden is strictly limited).

    • Thanks Mark. Veg are a mixed bag this year, I’ll try and post an update soon, probably be the weekend before I have the time. The bottlebrush is lovely, they do grow into small trees (3 or 4 m height and spread) in hot countries, but I intend to keep ours pruned as a bush in the border. They’re not fully hardy either, although this one seems to be doing well. Kept in a pot you could give it winter protection if it needs it, and keep its size in check. Perhaps I’ll try and take cuttings in the next month or two, and if one takes I’ll pop it through to you when I’m visiting your neck of the woods, nothing lost then if you decide to rip it out in the future.
      My Mum has one in their small garden, just up the road from you. It’s been in the garden for years, flowers well, and has very light airy growth. It stands about 1.5m high and floats above the plants in the border.

  9. Wow your garden is packed with glorious colour and vibrancy. Your post really conveys the pleasure it it is giving you Sarah. I must try to look out for an eryngium – it looks great with those glowing white daisies and the scabious.

    • Thanks, Anna. I adore eryngiums, the shapes and colours are so striking, and I love the combination with white daisies and red scabious too…

  10. it looks beautiful, have taken notes to fill in some of the gaps in my new flower border. my daisies are flopping forward over the front of the border, any thoughts on something that could survive going in front of them?

    • Thank you, I’m amazed how fast everything has filled out considering these borders have only been planted over the last year or so.
      I would think a robust hardy geranium should survive flopping daisies, something like G. x magnificum or a G. sanguineum cultivar, which forms a defined sturdy dome, rather than the types which sprawl more. We have both and they seem to stand up well to floppier plants nearby, also astrantias and Alchemilla mollis seem fairly happy to be sprawled over…

  11. Beautiful, Sarah, it certainly looks more mature than just one year, no wonder you are excited and pleased. I really must try Monarda, I don’t know why I’ve never grown it. Christina

    • I love the monardas; we have a deep pink one too, though I must move it further forward in the autumn, and a pale pink one just coming out.

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