Friday 10th July 2020

This week, we Zoomed around another lovely garden owned by one of the infamous Friday Group. A real treat. Packed full of interest, from a clever trompe l’oeil effect to a great choice of fence and shed colours, to some wonderful/some weird scented plants. Loads of good ideas for us to take away and try in our own gardens. It’s all gravy! (Or, in our case, cake.)img_20200710_091749657_hdr

Initially, faced with a very traditional rectangular back garden, the owner attended Deborah Kalinke’s course in Garden Design, and then implemented changes. The rear garden is approached from a balcony with steps leading down – offering a change in perspective. A curving sinuous path went in, two grass circles surrounded by beds, a close-boarded fence was painted black (so good), and a mirrored “gate” was installed, which magically appears to open out into another area of garden. A veggie patch was created “all you can eat in 3 square feet”, the tiniest Mediterranean garden, a shady area, the smallest prairie garden in the south-east, a pebble pond, pots, a little greenhouse. Incredible.  And, a darling blue shed; the icing on the cake, and the owner’s pride and joy.img_20200710_122312958

We all want one

Plants a-plenty, of course. We expect nothing less from a long-standing F/G member. Highlights were: Wisteria – now heading for its second flowering of the year; the dry area planted with an Olive tree, Lemon thyme, Euphorbias, Salvias and a fabulous Jasmine; the vegetable area – Tomatoes, Carrots, climbing and dwarf French Beans, Cavolo Nero, Beetroot, Nasturtiums, Strawberries and a Crab Apple tree. And a mahoosive Rhubarb. And Peas growing up a trellis. How is it done? However it’s done, she goes on to do yet more in the shade – with Hart’s Tongue Fern and other varieties planted alongside Phlomis russeliana, Astilbes and Astrantias. Betula ‘Snow Queen’ also makes an appearance along with a dramatically impressive Dranunculus (sounds like Dracula’s uncle and, by all accounts, smells like him). Grasses and Thalictrums sway together in vertical harmony.

The Plant Ident. centred on five of the owner’s favourites:

Buddleia alternifoliaimg_20200604_175514

The slender branches of the Fountain butterfly bush have a weeping habit and are covered with soft purple or pink racemes of flowers in the early summer – flowering on the previous year’s stems. A hardy (A.G.M.) shrub, it will grow in sun or part shade, in pretty much any type of fertile soil, reaching around 4 m  x 4 m. Buddleias are magnets for wildlife – bees, moths, birds and butterflies – and are virtually mandatory in any naturalist’s garden. Probably in naturists’ gardens too, but perhaps for different reasons.

Malus ‘Laura’ img_20200425_182422

Crab apples are such rewarding trees to grow, giving interest over much of the year. Buds and flowers in spring and summer are followed by fruit which can be picked and enjoyed by humans and birds alike. ‘Laura’ is a small, deciduous tree with leaves which emerge as bronze/purple in spring but turn dark green by summer. The flowers are dark pink with lighter centres and remain on the tree for longer than regular apple trees. The crab apple fruits are maroon/dark red and can be used for making jelly, which has a red tint to it. Grows (slowly) to about 2.5 m., upright in habit, (haughty horticulturalists would say ‘fastigiate’), and doesn’t take up much space. A good choice for a small garden.


Speedwell is a tough, long-lived perennial which is deer resistant, drought tolerant and can cope with a range of soil types. There are many different varieties, and although the name of this particular cultivar is unknown, its vivid blue makes it invaluable both in the border and the vase. Attractive to pollinating insects, it satisfies any gardener’s demand for eco-credentials. Best in full sun.

Lupins (mixed)img_20200527_075603

If you can grow specimens like these, then you’d be mad not to. A traditional cottage-garden plant with pea-like flowers which are loved by bees (good) and slugs and snails (bad). Strong vertical spires in a range of mouth-watering colours. Grow in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Deadhead after flowering, and you may get another flush of flowers. Cut back to base in the autumn after seeds have formed. Often lupins will self-seed around naturally; alternatively, basal cuttings can be taken in spring.

Dranunculus vulgarisimg_20200602_191832

The Stink Lily – highly impressive and highly stinky. Has been described as ‘indispensable exotica’. The smell (like rotting flesh) attracts the type of flies it needs to pollinate it. Nice. Lovely colours though. About 1 m tall.

Rosa ‘Wedding Day’img_20200607_091508

A rambling rose that just loves to ramble higher and higher. This one rollicks about on a Lilac and is stunning when it flowers in May/June. Attractive hips are produced in abundance in October. Glossy, dark leaves offset the fragrant, white, single blooms which are borne in clusters. Stand back, as it can get to 10 m+.

Jobs for the week

Meanwhile, back at Garden House, the week’s tasks centre around weeding, watering, feeding, more weeding, staking, taking cuttings (especially of Salvias and Pelargoniums) and labelling. Sow Ipomoeas (Morning Glory) – it’s not too late – and maybe try for another crop of Sweet Peas. Veggies? Go for Pumpkins, Cavolo Nero, Spinach and Chard. They’re good for you. jeshoots-com-l8nlxbhwbw0-unsplash

Sow now for autumn fruition. You’ll reap the benefits.

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