Of Doubles And Dawn

At this time of year every day brings something new to discover in the garden – and this year I’m seeing our garden at hours of the day that I have fervently shunned in the past in favour of a warm bed…

Early summer morning garden

Early summer morning garden

I’m definitely not a crack-of-dawn girl by nature, but on a sunny May morning I can certainly see the appeal of this time of day, when the play of light and shadows in the garden is rather magical.

Viburnum opulus 'Roseum' - Snowball bushI’ve even managed a few hours of working in the garden – at far more respectable hours – in the past week or two, mostly trying to keep up with our weeds, particularly the pernicious couch grass which ensnares parts of each border. This coming week I need to pot on some cosmos seedlings in the greenhouse, and try and stake the snowball bush pictured above, whose gloriously heavy heads of flowers have weighted the branches down across the border in a rather unseemly manner.

Aquilegia Ruby Port

Our later aquilegias have joined in the show this week too, with the swathe of Ruby Port that flood across the kitchen border dancing with dark red stars. These rich double flowers gradually turn upwards, which is a rather nice habit, and not one I’ve noticed in other cultivars.

A quick look back at my posts from this time last year reminded me that the imposter that I was contemplating in this bed, whose foliage differed from the rest, was in fact a specimen of Aquilegia fragrans that I raised from seed. Its delicate pale flowers have opened now, along with an identical sibling planted in the field border.

Aquilegia fragrans flower

Aquilegia fragrans

It stands out rather well against its ruby red cousins and Acer dissectum ‘Garnet’. Contrary to its name, though, I cannot find a trace of fragrance in the flowers of either plant.

A handsome double yellow plant (not pictured) that I raised from seeds purchased at Touchwood Garden has returned again this year, to my delight, and the rather strange spiky pink and yellow buds on another plant from seeds bought when I visited the national collections at Touchwood Garden, flowering for the first time this year, opened this week into rather beautiful double lemon-yellow skirts with pink waistcoats. Not what I expected of a plant whose seeds were labelled ‘Black and Bruises’, collected from darker coloured specimens, but what beauties nonetheless.

Seed-raised aquilegia flowers in close-up

Seed-raised aquilegia flowers in close-up

The lemon yellow flower petals fade towards ivory after a few days, but in my head I have begun to think of this plant as ‘Rhubarb and Custard’.

Seed-raised aquilegia in bloom

It forms a wonderful colour clash with the bright vermilion flowers of the seed-raised Geum Mrs J Bradshaw which have begun to bloom alongside, against the dark backdrop of Sambucus Nigra ‘Black Lace’ foliage. One of the things that I love about a rather laissez-faire style of gardening are these crazy combinations that appear – which I would never compose intentionally – that somehow work regardless of the rules. Or perhaps I am just not discerning enough and should be relocating one plant or other post-haste! Yet instead, they make me smile…


12 thoughts on “Of Doubles And Dawn

  1. Sara I love your name rhubarb and custard, it fits the flower perfectly, imo. all your aquilegias look beautiful, mine have not started to flower yet, lots of buds though, I understand seed rarely comes true from the plant it is taken as only the pollinators know the other parent, I collected from a white and a blue aquilegias, the seeds are growing and I look forward to seeing what colour flowers emerge next spring,
    I think early morning and late evening light are the best, especially at this time of year when day light can be quite harsh if the sun is out, nice you are getting a little time in the garden, the photos of your garden look lovely, Frances

    • Thanks Frances, look forward to seeing what grows from your saved seeds too. Yes the ends of the day do have the best light, and it’s wonderful to have a few snatched opportunities to get my hands dirty and feel the (gales!) wind on my face 🙂 x

  2. Unlike you, I am normally an early riser – mainly because of my job, which often entails travelling a fair distance to work. I actually like having a wander round the garden before heading of to work (in the Summertime that is, not in the depths of Winter). It is very therapeutic and calming. And as you say, the light is often very different and conducive to the taking of nice photos!

    • Ah yes when I’m in the office I’m usually on the road by 06h30 so do see some lovely early morning light in the summer – and lots of inky darkness in winter – but it’s rarely by choice 🙂 I usually cut things rather tight so leave little time to do much more than admire the light from the window before zipping out the door for my commute! A walk around the garden is a lovely way to start the day if time allows.

  3. On the rare occasions that I’m up before 7 am in the summer then I’m always struck by the quality of light and the calmness in the air at that hour. I’ve even seen bats flying in and out of the ivy but for that I need to be up by 6 am which I have to admit is challenging but certainly worth it.

  4. Hi Sara, my V. roseum has flopped all over the place under recent bad weather. I normally prune it after flowering but decided not to last year. Loads of bloom but far too heavy for the slender stems. Looked great for a couple of weeks though. D

  5. Early mornings can be wonderful out in the garden with sunshine and birdsong. Does your LO like early mornings? The aquilegias look wonderful, you have the makings of a good collection.

    • Our LO has been pretty keen on 04h30-06h30 for a few nights now, yawn. He’s less of a fan of sleep, day or night! Too much to do for busy little hands and feet that are into everything!
      Thanks, I’m pleased with our aquilegias so far.

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