A Brave Face

Rain and strong winds continue to sweep mercilessly across our hilltop, which has been unseasonably cold since the Bank Holiday. Today’s rainfall has been incessant – and shows no sign of stopping – but there were occasional glimpses of sun at the weekend and the opportunity to snatch a few pictures of some of the survivors: shooting the breeze, indeed!

Part of the long border, mid-MayIgnoring the dandelions, which are appearing thick and fast in the lawn despite our best attempts to remove them, the borders are beginning to fill up nicely, albeit at the usual jaunty angle. I was thrilled that last year’s pots of  Barcelona tulips, planted out in several clumps in the borders last autumn, to make room in the pots for this year’s selections, came up tall and beautiful again for their second spring.

Tulip BarcelonaThey look particularly vibrant with the zesty green Euphorbia at their feet, and the blues of Omphalodes capadoccica ‘Cherry Ingram’ and the paler forget-me-nots. I am amazed that they continue to stand so tall, with their petals clutched tightly about them as the winds rip through the garden.

TulipsIn the front garden, some of the tulips are beginning to look rather more ravaged. Although the beautifully painted red and yellow goblets of Tulipa Helmar, shown above, are somehow still pristine; the velvety dark red Jan Reus, and now-fading yellow and green stars of what appear to be T. Spring Green, have blown apart. These were ordered as T. Green Star, but bloomed with a more rounded shape and stripes of green and yellow rather than the spikier white and green shapes expected of the former. Fortuitously they make just as good a combination with the dark reds and yellows of  their neighbours.

I love the colours of this combination, even though the pots are looking rather dishevelled, and I’m a little pleased with the narrow front bed above, where Apricot Beauty tulips tiptoe through a soft haze of forget-me-nots and the dark Blood Red wallflowers I raised from seed – though the odd bold Helmar makes a surprise appearance here too, and there’s room for more wallflowers and tulips both, as I make notes for next year.

Unknown tulip, yellow with delicate red picotee edge

Out and about recently, I also came upon this rather wonderful tulip in a lovely lemony yellow, with the most delicate red picotee edging. I must track it down for another year, it would make rather a fine companion for the reds and yellows we chose this year. Perhaps somebody can identify it?

UPDATE: It appears to be the Darwin hybrid ‘Ivory Floradale’, a pale lemon yellow tulip which can display hints of carmine

Narcissus Hawera and Petrel

The last daffodils are still holding up remarkably well, though their petals are beginning to fray in the tempestuous winds that continue to assault them. These are the late-flowering Hawera and Petrel, both miniature narcissus that I added in the autumn, with multiple flowers on each stem. The delicate white Petrel have a lovely sweet scent.

Lamprocapnos and aquilegiaPink and white Lamprocapnos (I am reluctantly turning to their new name) bob along graceful stems, never still; and the first aquilegia into bloom is this tall purple-coated one that came from my Mum’s garden.

Bee on Epimedium 'Amber Queen'The tiny tiny dark buds that quivered on the impossibly delicate stems of Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’ burst open like fireworks this week – and this busy bee seems to be just as enamoured with them as I am. I find it astonishing how such substantial flowers were hiding in such small buds just a few days before.

Deschampsia flexuosa ‘Tatra Gold’Even the grasses are beginning to flower: these lovely russet flowers now grace the Deschampsia flexuosa ‘Tatra Gold’. The clump of Camassias that I planted in flower last spring are colouring up again, and Viola cornuta alba spills in a pool of white at the front of the border; I hope to spread these around the garden, they are such a free-flowering graceful addition to the planting.

Red ranunculus, and peony bud

Joining the white Anemone coronaria Mount Everest flowering in the front garden, I spotted the first deep red ranunculus beginning to unfurl, with a little glee.  I planted corms of both red and white ranunculus, some in pots but most in the borders, and though I suspect we’ve lost some to the wet winter, there are definitely signs of life.

In the field border, I’ve been hoping for flowers from our first Peony since I first planted out the tiny pot bought from Malvern two years ago; such a relief that it seems to have found its feet this year, and I’m keenly anticipating the first red flower soon – that’s unless the wind and rain destroy the bud first, of course!

The plants we grow here should certainly be robust, with all that our weather throws at them, and are standing up surprisingly well. If only the rain would stop, the wind drop and the temperatures rise once more. I rather miss the spring sunshine that shyly teased us last week.

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24 thoughts on “A Brave Face

    • It does feel terribly wintry, we’re still lighting the fires as often as not and the wind and rain are quite fierce. Thank goodness the garden is fighting on regardless!

  1. Sunday was gorgeous, Monday it rained and the wind got up to 40 miles an hour, today was gorgeous with temps in the low 70s, tonight it will drop to 40 degrees and tomorrow we will have rain…it has been a bit frustrating. Having said all that my garden has never been healthier; your garden photos really look pretty good as well, despite foul weather.

    • Your weather sounds even more tempestuous than ours; we’ve settled into a cold wet windy patch at the minute. As you say the garden appreciates the rain, though ours is looking a little dog-eared in places where the wind has ripped through.

  2. Plants need to be tough to live in your conditions, Sara. I have an Epimedium too and have to seek it out each spring or else the flowers are over before I know it. D

    • ‘Tis true. Nowhere for cossetting or mollycoddling here! I love the Epimedium, and would like to add more, though we have limited shadyish spots until the borders grow up a bit.

  3. You’re a lot further on than we are, up here in frozen north Wales (hail)… and your tulips have withstood the winter blast better than mine. I do hope you find out the name of that lemon yellow, red-fringed beauty, because it is gorgeous…

    • Ooh we had hail a few days ago: most unexpected. Some of the tulips exploded within days of opening; I’m amazed the others are still standing so tall.
      From a little searching, I suspect that the tulip I was admiring may be Blushing Apeldoorn, though the colouring can be quite variable it would appear.

  4. I will alwasy be grateful that you posted about Tulip Barcelona last year Sara, it is beautiful, and I love the way the petals curve back after they’ve been open for a while; I’m pleased to know that they flowered again this year for you as that should mean they will do well here. Despite the wind you have lots of lovely blooms all beautifully put together. Christina

    • I’m pleased that you like them as much as I do, this year one or two of ours have managed to curl back a single petal, a lovely trait. If they return so strongly on our wet windy clay then hopefully they should do very well indeed for you.

  5. What beautiful tulips, I’m surprised they survive the winds. The weather is awful here too, endless rain and wind make it hard to get anything done outside.xxxx

  6. Thank you for sharing your lovely tulips – I am becoming fonder of tulips as every year passes, especially as many of them seem to more amenable to sticking around for longer. Lamprocapnos is such a mouthful and I shall have to practice it a lot before it trips off my tongue – but mine have been beautiful too whatever it gets called. I look the look of your amber epimedium – mustv look out for that one.

    • I love tulips – both the small species types and the bigger brighter hybrids. I’ve been fighting the change from Dicentra so far, but I suppose that the unwieldy Lamprocapnos moniker isn’t likely to go anywhere, so I should start using it.

  7. So dicentra has changed its name. Not sure about Lamprocapnos, they will always be dicentra to me. I was worried the stormy weather and downpours would completely flatten the garden but fortunately the plants have held up well. I want more wallflowers too next year. Just hoping it warms up soon as I may not have any space to sow my biennials if my half-hardies are all still indoors. 😉 The one plus side to the cooler spring has meant a lot of flowers, particularly the daffs have last so much longer.

    • Dicentra seems so much ‘nicer’ than the mouthful that is ‘Lamprocapnos’, but I suppose they are unlikely to change it back again so I’m reluctantly giving in.
      I’m amazed how well the plants have withstood the constant assaults on them – and they have been flowering beautifully and long, a silver lining to our otherwise rather unlovely spring.

  8. I have a bulb catalogue from de Jagers (Maidstone, Kent) which includes a tulip called “Blushing Girl”, which looks like the one you have.

    • Thanks Mark, a good find. That does look to have the same pattern of markings, albeit in slightly paler colours. Blushing Apeldoorn has a little more of the yellow to it; looks like ‘Blushing’ is the word to look out for in the autumn!

  9. Another chilly, breezy and potentially wet day here Sara – beginning to think that that bank holiday was a dream. However all the wet stuff after the dry April has really spurred growth. I like your dark red wallflowers with the tulips weaving through them. I’m still sticking with dicentra – using my age as an excuse 🙂

    • At least we saw some sun this weekend again. The garden does seem to be thriving after all the rain; I’d be happy if the temperatures rose a little now though!

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