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A June bouquet for July

July 2, 2011

Looking back over photos from the past month I realise that, despite our poor weather, June blossomed as it always does. This is the month when the irises flower, the long borders in the walled garden start to thicken out and the old roses have their brief moment of heady splendour. Here, for your pleasure I hope, is a mixed bouquet of some of the garden flowers that gave me pleasure in June.

Early June: in the walled garden there were wonderful drifts of irises in flower. My favourites were these cerulean blue ones.

I love them despite the fact that they inevitably remind me of Van Gogh’s blue irises, which have never much inspired me.

Similarly, I can’t help thinking of Georgia O’Keefe’s iris paintings (which I don’t like) when I look at this one in the garden; yet the flower itself is very striking. Not beautiful, exactly, to my mind, but fascinating in its detail and sumptuous colours.

In the kitchen garden, the humble chives were in bloom, to the delight of the bees. The raspberry canes were coming along well too in the background.

On a bank in the garden, in the first week of June, there were drifts of sunny golden wildflowers – not dandelions, but I don’t know what they are – lighting up the grass under some ancient yew trees.

There is one plant in the garden that I am really excited about. We have never had one before, and I have spent several years trying to persuade our hard-working gardener to try growing it. This year, she has. It is a Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis), and it is absolutely flourishing in a shady, south-facing bed. Behold!

These ghostly blue poppies, natives of Tibet, have always seemed almost mythical to me. I am thrilled that they are here, and that they seem to like our garden. I hope they’ll stay.

All through the month, there were roses in bloom in one place or another. Relegated to the outside of the garden, a wild or dog rose has been flowering against the walls, its simple flowers and heart-shaped petals making this hedgerow plant surely amongst the prettiest of roses.

In the family graveyard, an old-fashioned ‘cabbage rose’ bloomed in the middle of the month. Where the appeal of the wild rose lies in its simplicity, the attraction of this one is in its sublime scent and its circle of tightly furled petals.

In the walled garden, meanwhile, the roses planted here a generation ago have been at their fleeting and fragrant best.

This white one is a favourite of mine. It grows in a great unruly, prickly mass and turns to soggy brown mush at the first hint of rain. But it has deep pink buds, pure white blooms and a sweet scent.

Then there’s a little dark crimson rose with petals like velvet,

and some almost-purple ones that I always think would have had the Elizabethans – or perhaps I should say Mary Queen of Scots – in raptures. (Regular readers will know that there’s no point asking me the names of any of them, I’m afraid.)

Last year, we had the local blacksmith make a sort of simple trellis along the back of a flower bed. Eventually we hope to have wisteria establish itself on it but, for the moment, the old apricot rambling rose is enjoying the novelty of some support. (If you look closely, you’ll see a little ‘green man’ smiling at you from this photo: my small son with his orange football, hiding behind the roses.)

More recent additions to the garden  – compared to the roses, I mean – include some blowsy peonies. Being a romantic, I prefer the paler pink ones with petals like crumpled tissue paper, but these ones certainly add panache to the borders.

And at the end of the month, I found myself where I started: with irises. The blue ones were long gone, but there were some ethereal white ones taking their turn on the stage.

As we head into July, the beautiful flowers of early summer give way to the fruit season. Our strawberries and blackcurrants are ripe; the redcurrants will be next;

and the raspberries won’t be far behind. No more time to drift about the garden smelling roses: from now on, every spare moment must be spent in the kitchen stripping currants and making purees, puddings and jams. Every month brings its own blessings.

See also: Late summer in the garden; Blooming June: wild flower heaven and My Hysteria grandiflora is coming along nicely.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. hmunro permalink
    July 3, 2011 1:23 am

    Lovely, lovely post. You’ve brought out the bee in me, dancingbeastie! I’m delighted to see that you’re finally getting some peonies (even if you’d fancy them better a shade or two lighter). Mine have yet to erupt — and the ants are still hanging around in my kitchen, apparently waiting for their cue. Sigh. 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      July 3, 2011 3:55 pm

      Oh, thank you! I think I’m looking forward to your belated peonies almost as much as you are – be sure to show us some photos, please! And maybe you could zap the ants with something before they get their chance on the flowers? (My charity to beasties doesn’t extend to critters who spoil our fruit and flowers, I confess.)

  2. July 3, 2011 5:33 am

    Lovely pictures, especially the roses. I’ve just planted my first roses with the encouragement of a friend who assures me even I can’t kill them. I bought old roses, David Austin varieties because I love the scent & the form of old roses. Yours look just gorgeous, my summer’s nearly 6 months away but I can’t wait to stop & smell the roses.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      July 3, 2011 3:58 pm

      Very best of luck with your David Austin roses. They are the ones I would choose if I had to start afresh – although the gardener here, who is infinitely more knowledgeable than I, is not convinced that they could deal with our winters. I think we tend to be a bit scared of trying to grow roses, as there is a sort of mystique surrounding them and how ‘difficult’ they are supposed to be. It’s got to be worth a try, though, right? And they will give you such pleasure if they grow.

  3. July 3, 2011 9:52 am

    What a wonderful, wonderful garden you have, DB, and such a lovely post and photos to describe it. That’s the marvellous thing about old houses with spacious and long-established gardens – such fantastic profusion of beauty and fruitfulness. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      July 3, 2011 4:10 pm

      Yes, it is very special, and I always feel very undeserving – but I do love it. It’s a pleasure to share it sometimes with tour parties, who always appreciate it. And there is something so satisfying about being able to eat fruit and vegetables from your own garden (whether it’s a windowsill or a walled garden), isn’t there?

  4. Borderer permalink
    July 4, 2011 3:34 pm

    I enjoyed the photos and descriptions (always so graphic) of your garden this last week. I too was unable to identify the bank of yellow flowers but would be interested to know what they are. I would make a suggestion of someone who could help in regard to both these flowers and the best way to propagate your mecanopsis . The person in question is Tom Shearer and I’ve copied an extract from a 2004 article when he received his MBE. He produces great quantities of mecanopsis for the Dawyk Botanical Gardens ( an outstation of the Royal Botanics in Edinburgh) and is always delighted to offer help and advice on any horticultural queries. I can forward further details if you wish.
    Thank you for all your posts.

  5. Borderer permalink
    July 4, 2011 3:36 pm

    Oops! The article on Tom Shearer didnt copy so I’ll try again.

    imaage Tom Shearer receives his MBE for services to horticulture and the community of Peeblesshire. Tom, 78, was county horticulture adviser in Peeblesshire and the Borders for 40 years and has lived in Broughton since 1960.

    His own garden in the village attracts a large number of visitors every year and used to open regularly under the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme until the crowds arriving proved too big.

    Although no longer opening his garden as part of the scheme, visitors still call and horticultural societies are always keen to visit.

    As a result of donations for entry to the garden, Tom has raised 30,000 for charity over the years.

    “Each year I put on a display of about 5,000 bedding plants. As well as 1,500 begonias and hundreds of Himalayan poppies and azaleas,” he explained.

    “I consider myself very lucky to have been able to turn my hobby into my job.

    “I have been fascinated by gardening since I was just three or four years old and was very surprised and delighted when I received the letter informing me of the award of an MBE,”

  6. July 9, 2011 2:56 pm

    Oh My Gosh all those flowers are so beautiful!!!!!!!! I think my favorites are those pink peonies!!! They are so Lovely, I would plant those some day if I could, that is how much I like them!!!! Who takes all of your pictures in your blog they are so good, I just love the flower picture we don’t see very many beautiful flowers like that in Arizona Oh No! Thank you for sharing those flowers images with me!

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