I nearly missed Carol’s wonderful GBBD this month, between recovering from the Malvern Spring Show, giving the allotment some much needed TLC and catching up with blogs. When I saw GBBD posts appearing in my inbox this morning I almost decided to give it a miss, but it is such a valuable record of what is looking good when, and I have found myself referring back to previous posts so frequently, I was out with my camera in my dressing gown trying to capture what is going on right now.

Sweet Rocket

I am entranced by Sweet Rocket at the moment. True, it is towering over everything in the Magnolia bed, having grown to twice the advertised height, and consequently being battered by the wind. But it is a glorious splash of colour in an otherwise shady spot and the insects love it.

Pink Rose

We don’t know what the rose is, it was a gift to MIL some years ago, and had been languishing in its original pot ever since. Last year we bought a pot and treated it to a little more room, and it is rewarding us with rather pretty flowers – though no scent.

Euphorbia Oblongata

If the rose is subtle and under stated, the Euphorbia oblongata is anything but! Fortunately it is on the other side of the garden. The advice from Sarah Raven is to grow this as an annual, as “it never flowers as well in its second year”. I had intended to pull it out last Autumn but never got around to it – and am delighted I was so lazy. It has gone mad, and the bees adore it.

Aquilegia 'Miss M I Huish'Self sown Aquilegia

This is the time of year we begin to discover what the rather promiscuous aquilegias have produced from last year’s illicit pairings. At the top is Aquilegia ‘Miss M. I. Huish’. I grew it from seed a couple of years ago because it was what I had, although I prefer the simpler forms. Evidently it crossed with a spurred deep purple one and produced a frilly purple one, which is fine, I like the contrast between the two.

Spurred Self Sown Aquilegia

I’m more chuffed with the result the other way around, a spurred aquilegia in the near-black of Miss M. I. Huish. But this year they fight in vein for my attention, I have a new love. I saw a yellow aguilegia growing under an acer on Cat’s blog some time ago, and fell for it. I find yellow rather hard to include in the garden, and had never really thought of growing yellow aquilegias, but I filed it away, and then went to Malvern. They were everywhere! I grow Iris versicolor – the blue flag iris – in my pond (and recently failed to divide it), and couldn’t resist the idea of the two together, however briefly.

Iris Versicolor
Aquilegia chrysantha 'Yellow Queen'

The iris is more a soft purple than blue, and has pale yellow markings. I came away from Malvern with three Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Yellow Queen’, which have spurs (which hook on to anything and everything, making them a nightmare to transport alongside other plants in a plastic bag), pale creamy yellow outers and deeper yellow centers and stamens.

Iris Plus New Aquilegia

I think the two together look wonderful, its just a shame that the irises finish flowering so quickly. Mind you, I think every garden needs sudden bursts of temporary beauty as well as other more long lasting plantings.

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'

Another Malvern purchase, Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’, will be a more long lasting foil to the new aquilegia. I was going to go for ‘Walker’s Low’, because it has a really long flowering period, but it has a rather spreading habit and ‘Six Hill’s Giant’ is more upright, which I think works better alongside the strong vertical foliage of the crocosmia.

Another plant that was everywhere at Malvern was the geum. I’ve grown Geum ‘Cooky’ from seed, and planted some at the front of my pond border, but I had been wanting more orange further back – I’m after spashes of jewel-like colour to contrast with the other more muted plants. I came back with two.

Geum 'Princess Juliana'
Geum 'Princess Juliana'

‘Miss Juliana’ is a very deep orange, and certainly makes its presence felt.

New Plants Sing Out

From some angles its wiry stems hold the bright orange flowers against a backdrop of deep purple acer foliage, which I rather love, but the blue of the nepeta softens the effect.

Geum 'Mrs J Bradshaw'

‘Mrs J. Bradshaw’ is red, and goes beautifully with another Malvern purchase.

Sanguisorba menziesii

This is Sanguisorba menziesii. The deep plummy bottlebrush flowers again tone everything down a little, and also pick up the purple foliage of the acer, the emerging Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ and the lovely dark divided leaves of another new purchase:

Antrhiscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing'

Yes, I succumbed. Having totally failed to grow any from seed, and having saved money on some really good value purchases elsewhere, I struggled out of the showground with Antrhiscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’. It rewarded me by threatening to take the eye out of anybody foolish enough to come too close, and got rather too friendly with the the long spurs of the yellow aquilegia. They have now been permanently separated – until the anthriscus self-seeds itself.

I’ll leave you with a little more plant porn, and urge you to check out Carol’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post if you haven’t already, where you can follow links to gardens all over the world. Happy GBBD, and thank you Carol for hosting.

Californian PoppyBee on euphorbiaLovely ComboFlowering Salad With HeucheraNepeta With Crocosmia Leaves

63 thoughts on “GBBD May 2011

  1. Your spurred aquileigias are just beautiful. I’m growing something from saved seed – should be a similar one, but after my explosion of baby pink instead of dark red, I’m not so sure. But everything is beautiful!! (I particularly love the yellow against the dark heuchera – mm.)

    1. I couldn’t bring myself to inflict my baby pink aquilegia on an unsuspecting blogging world. But do try growing some from seed, they can’t all cross breed and produce pink monsters, look at my wonderful dark spurred one!

      The yellow against the heuchera is pure accident – the rocket is growing in a pot that just happens to currently be sat by the heuchera. I find these happy accidents teach me much more about colour than any of my careful planning. Last year it was a pot of dwarf runner beans in full scarlet flower next to the plummy red of Kanutia macedonica.

  2. Someone is going to inherit a beautiful garden filled with wonderful plants when they buy your house, Janet. The yellow aquilegia certainly does complement the iris, they look lovely together. What a delicate looking rose, but a shame it doesn’t come with a scent, that would have been perfect. The bees go made for Sweet Rocket, I grow it purposely for that.

    1. Thank you Jo, what a lovely thing to say. Although the bees like the sweet rocket they do prefer the salad version, if I had more room I would grow more of it, but am growing some at the allotment that I plan to allow to flower.

  3. Your garden looks beautiful Janet, full credit to you. Superb positioning and planting. Great photos as well. Do you open your garden? Funnily enough, l was out and about early this morning taking photos too. Will post soon!

    1. Thank you Trevor – and no, definitely not! My photos carefully don’t show the piles of not-yet-cleaned empty pots, the prunings waiting to be shredded, the small piles of compost from spillages I haven’t quite got around to clearing up. I couldn’t stand having to be tidy, even for a short time! But thank you for thinking someone might want to see it. Will look forward to your post.

  4. Wow, so much to love! Thanks for the mention of my blog. I’m so happy you were inspired…that is the wonderful thing about all our blogging friends I think, the inspiration to be found! I’ve been inspired by the Euphorbia’s I’ve seen in yours and other gardens and plan on adding one this fall. They have such beautiful texture and color.

    1. You’re welcome Cat, I agree, I love the inspiration I get from other people’s blogs. I am relatively new to Euphorbias, other than ‘robbiae’ which is wonderful for shade. I am growing Euphorbia palustris from seed, but I think it will be next year before any of them become garden worthy. Its such a huge family of plants, there seem to be ones for pretty much any situation, and if you avoid the sap, wonderful in a vase too. Look forward to seeing your shots of them when you plant one, you have a knack of capturing the essence of flowers and foliage.

    1. Hi Greggo, an allotment is an area of land made available to amateur gardeners to grow fruit and veg. They are usually in large groups of plots, often provided by the local council in the UK, at a small yearly rent. For those of us with small – or no – gardens, they provide the opportunity to grow food to eat. They can also be very sociable, you get chatting to other plot holders and pick up tips, some have annual competitions and social events too. Hope that helps!

  5. Your garden plants and pictures of them are really spot on Janet. I agree, once upon a time we would only look for plants with a long flowering period, but as you say, sudden bursts of temporary beauty can be very rewarding. The Malvern show does seem to be creating quite a stir these days.

    1. Hi Alistair, thank you. Totally static gardens would be rather boring, wouldn’t they. I enjoyed Malvern – as you can probably tell – and I’m not sure I would have got as much out of Chelsea which is both busier and somehow comes across as posher. Malvern felt very accessible.

  6. Stunning macros, Janet. You do closeup so well. I think I need to add Geum to my garden. I keep seeing yours and can not stop wanting it.

    1. That’s a tremendous compliment coming from you Donna, thank you. That’s the downside of blogging isn’t it – the endlessly expanding wishlist! Look forward to seeing your geums when you get hold of them…

  7. Hi Janet

    You certainly came away from Malvern laden with goodies. I too would have come away with Anthriscus as it’s very pretty and not often grown in many of the garden I frequent. I’ve been given a pass along black columbine that was grown from a cutting this year though I’m not so sure if I will see a flower this year on it. Your little cookie geum looks very nice – that would be a great addition to the border I featured today in GBBD. You’ve captured your garden so well today despite being attired in a dressing gown – I wonder what the neighbours thought!

    1. Hi Rosie, you’re right, the geum would fit very nicely in to that border of yours. Fortunately our garden is very well obscured by trees and climbers, so I don’t think the neighbours will have seen my dressing gown…

  8. Absolutely spectacular combinations. I love the orange geums, but find them short-lived so I buy a few every year. Same thing with our native Aquilegia chrysantha. You really have so many of my favorites in this post.

    1. I shall have to watch out for the geums and aquilegia and hope I can collect seed, at least from the latter, and perhaps split the former? Does it divide OK? One of the people on the nursery stand that SIL bought her (slightly different) geum from said it was the way to propagate them. Delighted I have some of your favourites in my garden!

    1. Hi Christine, I think the irises are my favourite things right now, with the new aquilegias coming a close second. For a week, maybe two, they are truly spectacular and the bees go nuts for them.

  9. You have so many beautiful blooms in your garden today. I love the pink rose, what a beauty. So many pretty Columbines too.

  10. Stunning pictures, Janet, and I have serious purchase-envy :-) We made it to the show on Friday ourselves, and I had earmarked the anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ in the morning too, but alas when we went back to make our purchases in the afternoon it had sold out on all the stands, along with the achillea ‘Paprika’ that I had fancied. I didn’t even see any Nepeta as that was on my wish list too. Of course, we still struggled to walk back to the car with all our purchases so can’t complain :-)

    1. Hi Sara, glad you made it to the show – look forward to seeing your new purchases! It can be a long walk back to that car park, but I’m sorry they were out of nepeta and ‘Ravenswing’. I failed to find a phlox for my magnolia bed gap, but there again made up for it by buying an extra geum…

      1. Ah, we bought a couple of phlox paniculata at the show (as I think we lost the lovely scented pale violet ones that were here last year to the digger ). And I have sowed some anthriscus seed, in the faint hope that I may manage to get one or two that way… although if you have had no luck from seed then it may stay on my wish list a bit longer!
        Ah your geums look stunning – love the sanguisorba too. I have serious border/plant envy :-)

  11. I’m glad you mustered the energy to post what’s happening in your garden. It’s a great display, and I would have missed it if you’d taken the month off. (I cheated and showed some wildflowers for a change.) Aquilegia remains one of my favorite genera. Your versions of it are wonderful, and I especially like the dark one. Striking as striking gets!

    1. Hi James, I’ve just a lovely time looking at the photos from your nature reserve tour, what a wonderful place, thank you for sharing it. Glad you enjoyed the garden tour, I am really hoping I get more dark spurred aquilegias self seeded for next year, I’d love to spread them around a little more.

  12. What a lovely collection of flowers and again beautiful photos, its always a pleasure to visit and read your posts. I have never managed to keep geums growing. I buy them, and follow all the instructiosn but they never survive so I have given up.
    Thank you for showing your garden. R

    1. Thank you Ronnie. I’m getting more and more concerned about the geums, I hadn’t realised they tended to be so short lived. I suppose I should just enjoy them while I have them and hope for the best.

  13. Everything looks incredible!! I love the Raven’s Wing. I’ve never heard of it before. I also love the bottle brush flowers. They remind me of a native wildflower in my garden. I have nepeta and it needs a lot of room. It can really spread. But if you cut it back by half when the blooms start to fade, it will tidy up and and be less sprawly. It’s a great plant for pollinators.

    1. Thanks for the tip re nepeta, I will remember that. One of the reasons I bought it was the way bees mob it! ‘Ravenswing’ is a lovely plant, wel worth growing. I am hoping that by saving seed I can have more next year.

  14. I like your description of the promiscuous columbine. One of my favourite things each spring (in my old garden) used to be seeing the new variations that would appear each year from the many coloured flowers. I haven’t yet planted any aquilegia in my new garden but if I do I’ll be starting with yellow, they are so beautiful.

    1. Hi Margeurite, I think the large spurred yellow aquilegia is a North American native, so could do well in your garden? And it is worth putting up with the occasional monstrous offspring to get the beauties.

  15. Well for a hasty post you have out done yourself. I don’t even know where to begin …the iris and columbines are my favs and yours are gorgeous…mine are still hiding…thx for the plant porn

    1. You’re welcome Donna, I know you will reciprocate once yours come out to play!

  16. Dear Janet, I am so glad you visited my blog because then I searched for yours. And what a treat to tour your amazing garden. I wouldn’t know where to begin to comment on all your lovely blooms. I am impressed by your columbine collection. I have had no luck with them, but maybe I will give them another try. Stunning photographs. P. x

    1. Thank you Pam. I hope you have another go with the columbines, and that it works this time, they would go so beautifully in to your garden.

  17. Hi Janet – well you snuck in a megawat of colour here. So many beauties but in combination you’ve created such wonderful planting schemes. Must see if there is a place for Euphorbias in my garden. Enjoyed the ooh-ahh flower porn so much

    1. Hi Laura, you produce such wonderful phrases – I love the megawat comment! And always happy to oblige with plant porn ;-) Thank you for the plant combinations comment, its the thing that I most want to learn and develop. And yes, find room for Euphorbias! I am a total convert.

    1. Thank you Claire, its funny, I discovered how much I love the blue + orange combination purely by accident, when I had a nepeta in a pot and saw how well it went with an orange wallflower. I’m curious to see what happens with Euphorbia oblongata if I let it stay another year.

  18. I’m falling for those geums – the citrus orange would go with so many of the yellows and purples right now. Lovely photos – my sanguisorba blooms much later – another couple of months here in CT.

    1. Hi Cyndy, I can certainly see geums in your garden, though I am getting a little nervous of all these tales of them being short lived. I think the sanquisorba will normally start flowering towards the end of May, but this has been a crazy Spring.

  19. I’m almost without words; its all looking so beautiful, and I love the new combinations you’re putting together. We seem to be doing a similar thing with blues and yellows, and I must say that area of the garden is giving me lots of pleasure at the moment. Yellow Rosa Molineux is the solid centre with Nepeta, Salvia, Hemerocalllis and some blue Iris all close to Phlomis russeliana. Your sanguisorba is stunning too, such a lovely dark colour. I fear the Knautia that germinated when you sent me seed may be weed from the compost! they are also not looking happy, I transplanted them into slightly larger pots and they are not happy!

    1. Thank you Christina, I must admit I am really happy with the new planting. Using roses in a mixed border is something I want to get to grips with, so I shall enjoy looking at your rose+nepeta+hemerocallis etc area. So sorry to hear about your Knautia failure. A pity you don’t live a little closer – I have self sown knautia plus extras from my own sowing I would happily give you. Am off to check your GBBD post.

  20. Gorgeous pics! I’m so glad sweet rocket is your headliner – it’s such a simple flower, but so stunning and just that shade of pinky-purple almost glows as the light fades. I too have loads in my garden – I sowed a packet of Gardens Illustrated free seeds and they all did very well! But I am also wowed by those aquilegias.

  21. Wonderful blooms and photos here Janet – quite a celebration going on in your garden at the moment I’d say. Loved the Aquilegias, seemed to have lost all mine a few years ago. I liked the orange of tequila sunrise but love the pale varieties and the deep ones you have too.

    My situation favours Walkers Low. The nepata is great for bees isn’t it? I have an orange geum in flower at the moment. It was a plant from a gardening friend a few years ago. Don’t know its name, but it looks like it is shorter in stem than yours. Must find out what it is. Happy Bloom Day :-)

    1. Hi Shirl, seeing the way bees mob nepeta was a major reason for choosing it. Sorry you lost your aquilegias – hope you try again and are more successful.

  22. Your allotment system really sounds like it could be a fun time of sharing and communicating with others on a topic all are interested in… neat concept! Larry

    1. Hi Larry, it is, and often friends get together and share plots, plus it is a great way of involving kids in growing food and learning that fresh strawberries picked and eaten straight from the plant taste completely different to those bought in the supermarket out of season.

  23. Everything is beautiful, but that Rose! It looks like creamy pink butter! What a wonderful capture–a good one to frame and share with your visitors. Happy Belated GBBD!

    1. Thank you, we are very chuffed to have saved the rose, and are looking forward to giving it a permanent home in a border once we move. I just wish it was fragrant too!

  24. Absolutely, positively L.O.V.E your Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ – as a matter of fact, just yesterday I was going through my garden journal (the hard copy one!) and found a note to myself from when you had posted some pictures of it last year. The note said “must have” and “Thanks Janet”!

  25. Just a reply to your comment Hi Janet, I’m not really a frilly pink person either but somehow it works in this border. The dark rose R. Tradescant. It has a wonderful perfume and ‘dies’ rather beautifully too. It never did well in my garden in England and there I bought the plant directly from David Austin. It may be a rose that likes the heat to harden its wood. I usually plant my roses in Three’s as D A advises. Christina

    1. Thanks Christina – and for doubling up your reply too. The rose has been added to my ever lengthening list, and I hope for a garden with room for roses in threes!

  26. Janet, you have some beautiful yellow and purple combinations! It’s lucky that you didn’t pull the euphorbia–what a stunning display this year.

    I’ve been catching up with blog posts the last two days and haven’t had time to read older ones I missed, but did have to skim through your Malvern Show post–looks like a great show, not to mention all the fantastic finds you brought home.

    1. Hi Rose, I am now doing the same thing, catching up on a few days of blog posts, comments, emails, having been rewarded for my trip to Malvern with a lovely virus to go with the plants :-(

  27. Lovely post! I’m a big fan of the long-spurred Columbines…they just seem so charming. Love Sanguisorbia…I love how they just give little spots of dark color here and there…I need to remember to interplant them with grasses more. I’ve been wanting an Antrhiscus this year…but hesitated getting one when they were available, and now I think I’ll just have to wait until next year!

    1. Hi Scott, thanks for dropping by. I am a new convert to the sanquisorba, but it is addind exactly what I wanted to the border, lovely deep plummy notes floating above the rest of the plants. I am really happy I succumbed and bought the Anthriscus, I sowed seed for it planning a whole drift of it through the border, but none came up – I will try again with saved seed this Autumn. Good luck finding one early next year!

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