Cottage Garden, Garden blogging

The Purple Phase

I love the way the colours change during the seasons.  In the spring, my garden was in its yellow phase, with daffodils, primroses and forsythia.  Then came the blues – forget me nots and bluebells.  Now it has entered its purple phase.


The shades vary from the Lilac in the front garden, (I’m sure is paler this year)…


…to the pretty Campanala scrabbling across the garden front walls. 


Last year I planted  a Johnsons Blue Geranium and it sulked, but this year it has decided that it will flower – only one at the moment but there are more buds.  Despite its name, I include this geranium in the purple shades category.


The Chives are looking good, especially contrasting in colour next to the Fennel.


When mentioning colour contrast, these larger alliums look good with the acid green Euphorbia as a backdrop.


The smaller alliums are flowering, despite some of them being ravaged by tiny snails who were eating the outer sheath of the flower.  You can make out the Astrantia behind just beginning to flower.


Finally, on the purple theme there are the dark purple Iris in the front garden.  The slugs and snails have been a nightmare and totally stripped the leaves.  I picked off 4 snails on the flower buds this morning.  I wish they would leave them alone.   

The more lush green leaves are Day Lilies and they will flower when the garden is in its summer red and orange phase. 

Cottage Garden, Garden blogging, Garden Visits

A Sunny Sunday Afternoon at Monk’s House, Rodmell East Sussex

You know those days when you start out to do one thing and end up doing something completely different? Today was one of those days. We drove to Stanmer Park near Brighton, but the world and his wife were there, the restaurant was fully booked and there were no tables available in the bar area. We could have sat outside but the staff looked few and far between and we quickly came to the conclusion there would be a very long wait for food so we decided to move on. As we were not far off the A27 and near Lewes we headed in that direction. After a good pub lunch in Kingston, near Lewes, I remembered we were on the road to the National Trust property Monk’s House in Rodmell.
   
I had been there about 3 years ago but my friend had not so it seemed like a good place to visit on a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon.  

When the rent on Leonard and Viginia Woolf’s Sussex weekend bolt hole came to an end, Leonard found and fell in love with a 17th century cottage in nearby Rodmell.  He bought Monk’s House in 1919 at auction for £700 and it had no running water or electricity.  The water came 5 years later followed by electricity 5 years after that.   It was originally 3 workers cottages which over the years had been knocked into one.    Monk’s House was close to Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Virginia’s sister the artist Vanessa Bell.   They were part of The Bloomsbury Group – who were an influential group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists, which included John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey.  They would come down from London for weekends and summer holidays and lived a somewhat salacious lifestyle. 

  
 

  

Leonard Woolf, a novelist, started out very much an amateur gardener at Monk’s House, but was so absorbed with gardening, he became quite an expert and even grafted his own fruit trees.  Apparently Virginia had to book time to get him away from the garden so they could go for  walks together.

 The view of the South Downs just beyond the orchard is breathtaking.   The tranquility is almost tangible, the birds were singing their hearts out and we found we were talking in whispers.   It struck me as an ideal place for a retreat, and there were several benches to sit and contemplate.  I can see how Virginia found the inspiration and peace to write.  

 Standing near the house, you look out on a part of the garden filled with spring flowers.  Some of the tulips were nearly over but there were many more waiting to burst into colour.  Beyond this part of the garden is the orchard filled with fritillary and bluebells, with the 17th century church in the background.   

The garden at Monk’s House is open daily from 12.30 to 17.30 and Rodmell, East Sussx is between Lewes and Newhaven.  You could make a day of it and visit Charleston which is nearby.  
 

  

These photographs are a great reminder of a warm, peaceful, Sunday afternoon, surrounded by colourful tulips, birdsong and a sense of history.  

Cottage Garden, Garden

What a Difference a Mowed Lawn Makes

At last its been dry long enough for the lawn to dry out and for the first time since the beginning of the winter months, I dug the mower out of the shed and mowed the lawn!   I never seem to learn not to walk on the wet lawn in the winter and yet again I have a number of  bald patches.   Some of the patches I have dug over and enlarged the flower bed – you can never have too many beds can you!  A spot of lawn seed purchasing is on the list.

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Today I felt really inspired.   It is amazing the difference cutting the grass can make, all of a sudden the garden started to look tidy and ready for spring.

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The Ribes Sanguineum (Flowering Currant) is starting to have those pretty dark pink flowers, and soon it will be a wonderful pink display of drooping clusters.

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I found a few Forsythia flowers coming out with lots of buds, so that is going to look splendid in a few weeks.  Underneath some of the shrubs at the  bottom of the garden there are a few primrose plants, and these have managed avoid being nibbled at the moment.  Something likes to eat them but I have never found out what.   This clump of daffodils have remained uneaten also.  I think I read somewhere there is a little bug that likes to eat them but I can’t remember what I should do about it.

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One of my favourite shrubs in the spring is Spiria Japonica ‘Goldflame’.  Whilst, in my opinion, it is nothing to write home about in the summer, it deserves a mention at this time of the year.  The leaves emerge into a bronze-red in the spring, almost the reverse of other plants that turn that colour in the autumn.

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Last year I left the Elder Sambucus Nigra and it grew to a great height and cast a lot of shade over the garden, when sun was badly needed.  Therefore this year I thought I would be tough and cut it down by half its height.   I am doing it slowly, and at the moment it is still looking slightly odd.   There were a few branches that were overhanging next door, on which they hung some of those peanut plastic bags, and the birds were not interested as they have been untouched for months.   So, with great difficulty I managed to lean over the wall, cut the branches and successfully hauled the branches back on to my side of the wall to dispose of.   This old tree is not going to be killed off easily, although that is certainly not my intention, it is full of little knobbly purple sprouts as you can see.   I know it won’t produce any flowers or berries this year, as they appear on growth from the previous year, but at least I will have a little more sun.

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The pots on the side patio are coming into their own now, and the tete-a-tete daffodils that I feared were looking rather stunted are now a decent size.  I am looking forward to a splendid display of tulips.

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Finally, the Jasmine Jasminum Officinale, which has flowered throughout the winter is amazing and smells glorious.   It usually flowers in June and July giving out a heady perfume in the evenings, so I am expecting it to continue to flower throughout the summer.   This was a tiny house plant and about 10 years ago I planted it out into a sheltered corner of the house.   The year before last it was getting really out of hand and I cut it right down the ground thinking I had killed – clearly not!!

 

 

 

Cottage Garden, Flowers in the Garden, Garden blogging

Come into my garden 

Welcome to my contribution to an English Cottage garden.  Today it’s sunny, warm and we have had some rain, which is much needed.  I am feeling really pleased  with my garden so am going to give you a little tour.   It maybe one of the smallest gardens in the garden blogging fraternity but it keeps me busy and there is a lot in it. 
It is west facing and surrounded on three sides by a Victorian stone wall.   I have lived here for 14 years and been plagued by the ivy, it is an ongoing battle.  I have a new neighbour to the left and I was more than delighted when he cut down the ivy on his side that had grown into trees!  The difference it has made is phenomenal, there is so much more light in the garden. 
  
The grass is full of clover, I did a feed and weed job on it earlier this year, leaving me with a lot of ugly black patches – at least the moss has died!  It is now very patchy with lush grass where I sowed ‘patch fix’ and a different coloured grass in other places.  No doubt it will settle down, it’s a patch of green anyway although far from being a lawn as purists would have it.
 This year I moved my garden table on to the little patio area at the back of the house.   It is quite cosy here sitting with the Compassion rose towering on one side and the Rasberry bushes and fennel on the other.  The Sweet peas ‘Beaujolais’ seem to be struggling, I was a little late in sowing them and they are taking time to catch up but will get there eventually.  
 
  
On the other side of the Compassion Rose is a small raised bed in which I usually grow vegetables.  This year because I had extra cucumber and tomato plants I decided I would grow some outside also.  The cucumbers ‘market more’ are doing really well but the tomatoes ‘sweet million’ are slow to flower so not sure if I will get many toms this year.
  
 Fortunately most of the ivy has gone from the north facing wall so the garden does get a lot more light on that side than in last years. The soil is heavy clay and despite years of adding compost etc it still gets waterlogged in the winter. This bed is full of Astilbe, Hostas, Achemila Mollis and a Hydrangea.  Although Crocosmia likes sunshine, it still grows happily at the back of this border.   The Potentilla is flowering well this year which is a first, it had always struggled in the past. 
 
 

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I have a side patio which is south facing and a real micro climate, and sun trap.  It is looking exceptionally lush at the moment.  The white Agapanthus has graced me with two flowers this year and the Passion flower is just beginning to bloom.  I am growing a couple of cucumber plants in the greenhouse just to see which fair better, the ones outside or these.  At the moment it is neck and neck, I will report back in a few weeks.
  
 White agapanthus
Marketmore Cucumbers 
 
  
   Passion Flower
 
I haven’t blogged much in the last few months but I do hope I still have some followers and you have enjoyed this little trip around my garden on the coast in West Sussex. 

Cottage Garden, Flowers in the Garden, Garden, Garden blogging

Flowers in the Garden Early May

Oh, how glorious gardens are when the flowers start appearing.   Looking back on blog posts in previous years everything in my garden is a week or two later than usual.  We had some rain last week but not enough to really soak the soil and the temperature dropped for a week or two.  However, yesterday and today there is a distinct warmth to the air and we are due for a warm sunny week ahead.  This should bring everything on, nature has a way of catching up.

Rather than do a lot of writing in this post, I think the photos will say more than I can.  Starting off with the front garden, the lilac this year is magnificent and the perfume is whafting down the road.


Last year the Iris did remarkably well despite the snails and I am glad to say that they are looking great this year.   The Choysia on the side patio outside the kitchen door is abundant with fragrance.    

 I love the Clematis ‘Josephine’ that is scrabbling through the Elder sambucus nigra.    

 I always forget to plant something under the alliums as their leaves start to die off and look untidy when flowering.  Maybe this year I will remember; I read that Alchimilla Mollis is a good plant for this.    I bought an Erysimum Walburtons Fragrance Star a few years ago and it is still going strong.

 The Aquiligia are just about to flower and I am always so happy to see this pretty double pale blue one, which is ahead of all the others.    

 Even the strawberry plant is in flower.

 Last year I tried to raise Stock from seed and although it grew quite strong it failed to flower.  Much to my surprise, it did ok through the winter and is now in flower!

 The Dicentra is almost on its way out.  Such a shame it doesn’t flower the whole of the summer, it is such a lovely plant.   The verbascum is in flower with spikes of different colour.

 This is the bottom flower bed, with carefully contained Spanish Bluebells at the back and the forget me nots creating a blue hue.   I have managed to eradicate most of these chunky bluebells but they do give colour to the garden.   Just in front of the compost bin, there is a pretty clump of orange poppies.

 There are still a number of flowers just about to appear including three peony flowers, which is very exciting as it hasn’t flowered for the last two years.

 It is any wonder that gardens are thought of as being cathartic.

Cottage Garden, Flowers, Flowers in the Garden, Garden, Garden Meme, Photography

Spring Has Sprung

I can’t believe how lucky I have been this week.  In need of a break, I took this week off work and the weather has been fabulous!  Unseasonably warm, at least until yesterday when a sea mist hung around all day and the day had a slight chill to it.  It was so lovely being outside and I tidied up the garden and did a stock take of what I had. Today is sunny, not quite as warm, but still good to be out in.  I always experience a sense of joy as I look around this time off the year and see all the dearly loved plants from the year before making another welcome appearance.  

The garden is full of spring colour I want to share it with you.   Before winter took hold I planted a large number of daffodil bulbs from an assortment bag.  Not as many as I expected appeared but those that have are so pretty and varied. 

     The primroses and primulas have spread well over the years.   

 The other yellow spring flower is Forsythia, it is like a bright yellow ball at the bottom of the garden.  The tiny Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) and the Forget-me-nots are beginning to create a pretty blue haze.  You may have noticed something white on the soil.  This is slug deterant scattered as a barrier around the Day Lilies because the slugs and snails have chomped a few of them down to stumps.  

 Take a look at the peony above!  Doesn’t it look great?  I love the dark red stems at this time of the year.  

I have to share the beautiful Ribes with you.  Such a shame that this shrub will start to smell of cat in a few months time.  Only another 5 days to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and I will be able to share more blooms with you, especially if the weather remains warm.  The garden is so happy and, coming up to two years following the removal of the bowel cancer, so am I to still be here to enjoy it.