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Archive for the ‘Roses’ Category

The last time I sojourned on the East Anglian coast was in West Mersea in Essex last June, and I was interested to see which plants would be flowering later in the year as summer starts to move into autumn.

Above is the glorious Holkham beach on the north Norfolk coast. A true antidote to London with its huge skies and endless sandy walks (and supplying handfuls of razor shells which will make fantastic plant labels for next year’s sowings in spring).

Well into September and Valerian is still giving great shows of colour just down the coast in Blakeney,

although hollyhocks and roses are definitely at the tail end of their flowering season.

It was good to see a new generation of these flouncy beauties lining up in preparation for duty next year.

Despite the sandy soil, roses seems to thrive right by the sea, and even their hips offer a gorgeous contrast in texture and colour to this yellow Verbascum.

A few miles inland in a village called Binham, I had to do a quick u-turn in the car to gaze a bit longer on this wondrous espalier pear tree.

It was absolutely dripping with fruit and I wished I’d knocked at the door now to find out how old the tree was and who looked after this beautiful specimen, growing in such a surprising public space!

Back to the coast and Erigeron karvinskianus was climbing out of walls nearby what I think is its slightly larger clump forming relative Erigeron ‘Azure Fairy’. Jolly lovely combination.

And seemingly growing out of a bit of moss by a none too gorgeous drain, was this delicate white cyclamen. I wonder if it will be forming a bulb under all that concrete?

And finally, this lovely common chicory was doing its horizontal best along a coastal pathway,

whilst a blackbird filled up on elder and hawthorn berries in a wind breaking hedgerow. I certainly do love to be beside the seaside, although I might need a lovely walled garden if I wanted to grow some of my favourite flowers and veg.

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I’ve just spent the morning working in a client’s garden that was packed full of Sarcococcas (Christmas or sweet box). The perfume was intoxicating, mesmerizing even, and it just got me thinking about how important scent is in a garden.

Plants with a powerful winter scent jump to mind easily,

such as the delicious Viburham bodnantense ‘Dawn’ (above),

the subltle perfume of Daphne Bholua (above),

and the delicate aroma of Mahonia japonica (above), with a scent akin to that of Lily of the Valley,

but as the year progresses, I find myself  being seduced into using colours, form and texture for planting plans,

with scent really taking a back seat. So while sitting on a bus, I gave myself the challenge of calling to mind flowers and shrubs that provide fragrance for the garden for the rest of the year.

Euphorbia Robbiae with Hyacinth ‘Blue Jacket’

In  March and April I recalled the heady scent of Hyacinths really knocking my socks off,

and Clematis armandii delicately perfuming the air , especially on warm sunny days in March and April. Oh, and the delicious honey scented Euphorbia mellifera.

Pittosporum tennuifolium flowers

The flowers of Pittosporum tennuifolium are so tiny and dark that you barely notice them , but last April, the sweet scent caught me unawares as I passed by this wonderful (and very useful) evergreen shrub whilst I worked away in my own garden. Will grow happily in semi-shade too.

May did fox me for a while, but Lily of the Valley has to be one of my all time favourite scents, and how could I forget Wisteria (call myself a gardener!).

For June, July and August, fragrant choices abound from Roses (which flowered well in to December last year too!), Lillies,  mock orange-Phildelphus and star Jasmin-Trachelspermum jasminoides. But I started to struggle as I mentally planned ahead for the autumn months.

Roses will still be flowering in September, and then I remembered the delicious scent and waving wands of Actaea Simplex (aka Cimifuga atropurpurea) as I entered into the magical Jardin Plume  last year. These should flower well into October too.

And taking us through November and December is the wonderful shrub Camellia sesanqua, a joyous surprise, both for its loud scent and riotous colour (and also happy in semi-shade),  as autumn turns into winter and the rest of garden looks as if it’s shut up shop for the year.

Erriobotya in bloom 2Another evergreen and beautifully architectural largish shrub (or small tree)  is Eriobotrya japonica, also known as a Loquat. More subdued in colour and perfume than the above Camellia, its scent is a real treat when least expected on a frosty morning in November and well into December.

Then I thought I’d start all over again with all year round colour, then all year round structure and this brought me back to the Sarcococcas, planted where I was working both as evergreen arching shrubs (eventually growing to about 4-5ft, 120-150cm) and more formal hedging. With its small glossy dark green leaves, the ability to grow in shady parts of the garden (even dry shade in mine) and the added benefit of its fragrant perfume, it’s a great structural plant for any garden and one I wouldn’t be without in my own!

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Although I ordered most of my bare-rooted plants weeks ago, new thoughts and ideas for myself and clients mean that there are more plants to order. So having done my last day of gardening work for this year, I can sit down and spend time perusing catalogues and websites again-a very pleasurable activity. I’ve plumped for Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ for a client wants a rose to grow up a tree and although not arriving for a few weeks yet, I could make the most of the promised mild days ahead to start preparing the ground for this scented beauty. The nice people at Peter Beales were happy, as ever, to give good advice about planting a rose near a tree. Try and plant at least 3 feet or more from the base of the tree to avoid competition from the tree roots and prepare the ground very well with loads of organic matter-home compost and well-rotted manure would be ideal. When planting, point the rose towards the tree and use a bamboo cane or rope to train the rose towards the tree. Next, wrap rope in a coil up the trunk to keep the rose stems as horizontal as possible as this will encourage the most flowers. Keep an eye on growth next year and tie stems in as they grow, as once the rose shoots up horizontally, it will be impossible to retrain without lopping off new growth. Paul’s Himalayan Musk is a Rambler, which means (unlike a Climber) that I shall have to wait a year before I see any flowers, as roses are formed on old wood. But I’ve chosen this variety as it’s a vigorous plant which will tough it out on poor soils and put up with a bit of shade, so with plenty of watering and judicious feeding, I will be rewarded with a wonderful skyward display in 18 months time!!

I’ve also just planted this wild rose (Rosa rugosa) as hedging in a neighbour’s front garden and hopefully will see the fruits of my labour this coming summer. There’s still plenty of time to order bare-rooted roses: Toby Buckland’s Nursery offers 10 well-selected cultivars, very reasonably priced wild rose hedging can be ordered from Victoriana Nursery and an abundance of roses can be easily selected on the very user-friendly Peter Beales website

On the fruit side, I’ve just ordered some ‘Joan J’ raspberries (from Ken Muir) to test alongside recently purchased ‘Polka’ canes and my ‘Autumn Bliss’ patch, for what I think is the best tasting variety.

And sweet, juicy Japanese Wineberries can be planted to fill the gap between your summer fruiting and autumn fruiting raspberries. Available bare-rooted from Victoriana Nursery, and Ken Muir.

And finally, I’ve been digging up Jerusalem Artichokes to eat for weeks now, but saving a few to replant in order to double my growing area for more of this delicious veg next year. The less knobbly Fuseau variety of tubers can be bought from Marshalls and can be planted from now until March.

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