As May drew to a close, the garden was alight with flares of early summer colour.
I always love watching the different stages of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ as the tapered buds expand into a globe of flowers, growing more spherical as the individual flowers open, always busy with bees.
Ornamental grasses shiver in the breeze; the semi-circular kitchen border and parts of the long border have exploded with self-sown Briza maxima: serious editing was needed to allow their neighbouring plants some breathing space, but I love their pendulous flowers, tinged with a hint of red that perfectly suits the dark ruby foliage of the acer, and the flowers of Aquilegia stellata Ruby Port that dance through them.
Another small annual grass which is in its element this year is Agrostis nebulosa ‘Fibreoptics’. When I grew this from seed two years ago, I was underwhelmed by the initial plants that I put out, which did not have the impact I had hoped for. After self-sowing they have formed far more robust clumps, their airy flowerheads en masse giving a wonderful dreamy feel to the front of the border.
The calendula ‘Indian Prince’ in this bed and elsewhere around the garden that made it through the mild winter unscathed, to give an early display of warm colour, have begun to soften in colour as the flowers age.
While early June sees many of the early aquilegias fading gently away, the later ones are a continued delight. The first flowers on one of the plants I raised from seed bought at Touchwood last summer, from a mix of double yellows called ‘Shooting Stars’, have opened to reveal beautiful semi-double, spurred flowers, kissed with a warm apricot blush that I find enchanting.
Such beautiful flowers, I shall certainly be collecting more seed from these to see what a second generation brings, as well as watching avidly for the remaining plants from this batch, and the ‘Black n Bruises’ seeds that I sowed at the same time, the plants from which are yet to flower.
Another special aquilegia grown from seed the previous year is this A. skinneri ‘Tequila Sunrise’ which has come into flower too; I suspect I may have lost some of my others from this batch as they have yet to show themselves this year. The pair of tall long-spurred yellow-flowered Aquilegia longissima which flanked the mounds of Geranium magnificum in the long border also seem to have disappeared; I will sow more for next year in the hope that perhaps they will be more long-lived, as I am very fond of their colour and long elegant spurs. Thankfully the plants of golden columbine, A. chrysantha, which stand much shorter for us at around a foot high, have thankfully been bringing some yellow-spurred magic to the front garden, but I do miss their tall elegant cousins from the main borders…
As well as the late aquilegias, early summer brings the oriental poppies into bloom.
One by one, their hairy green buds are erupting into flares of scarlet at the back of the field border. They are accompanied by smaller dashes of red from Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’, grown from seed last year.
I rather love these bright reds against the lush green foliage of early summer, and the last flares of blue from the perennial cornflowers and forget-me-nots around them.
Everything changes so quickly in the garden at this time of year. There has been a daily barrage of ‘firsts’ in recent weeks: the first greenhouse cucumber (La Diva); the first Dahlia to flower (David Howard); the first strawberries from the planters in the greenhouse… It’s all I can do to keep up!