Friday 15 June 2012

June bloomers

The rain is hammering on my windows as I am sitting down to write this post – will it ever stop raining?! We had a brief spell of nice weather earlier today, with overcast and sunny intervals, but it didn’t last for many hours. I am so sick of all the rain now, I need a long period of warm sunny weather to make up for all the cold and rain we have had. It has rained almost every day since first week of April, only interrupted by a short period of sunny days the last week of May.

I did manage to get some photos taken today, and some yesterday between the showers, as it is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens and I think it is a nice way for gardeners all over the world to show what we have in bloom right now. It has not been a normal spring here in London, not even a late spring; it is the latest spring on record for me and this is my 11th spring being in this house. The last camellia dropped a few days ago, which means it flowered from 19th February to 12th June, almost 4 months, thanks to the cold weather! That’s never happened before. My first rose flowered 23rd April last year, this year the first rose opened up 18th May. My red lilies were in full flower last week of May last year; they have only small buds so far this year. Yep, seriously late, but we are getting there!

My garden is lush and green thanks to all the rain, so I guess it is good for something at least – good for the gardens and good for the water storages all over Britain, it has rained so much lately that the hosepipe ban we were told we would have to struggle with until Christmas now has been lifted, after just over 2 months! Best remedy for water shortage; impose a hosepipe ban and it will rain for 2 months - and there is no end to the rain, apparently we will have the same unstable weather for the next whole month!

If you are a frequent visitor you might remember my woodland corner from before, I made this last autumn and planted crocuses and anemones in between the already established plants I had here. The crocuses and anemones have all disappeared by now, but the Arisaema amurenses are still going strong. I think I need to find something to plant in between them that flowers later in the summer, something small that won’t disturb all the corms and bulbs in the ground.

I still have cyclamens in flower, although they are coming to an end now and I am letting the last flowers go to seed, I usually do that so they can spread. They do take a couple of years before they are mature enough to flower, but hey, I can wait, it is after all free plants :-)

This big clump of a plant started out as a tiny one I got as a present 8 years ago, it is a Disporopsis pernyi, often called Evergreen Solomon's Seal, but it is not actually a Solomon’s Seal, just a look-a-like. It is a completely trouble free plant and tough as nails.

Disporopsis pernyi is a perfect plant for a woodland garden, it thrives in shade or semi-shade and is quite drought tolerant. The flowers resembles lily of the valley, but have a very different scent; more a light, lemony scent if you stick your nose right up to them. The slugs have been very active in my garden the last couple of months, normally they leave this plant alone but they have been helping themselves to a nibble here and there even on these tough, leathery leaves.

In mid June, my peonies would normally have finished flowering, but this year they haven’t even opened up. I have however more flowers than I have ever had, so I guess the rain has been good for something. I wish I didn’t have to stalk them though, they would look so much better on photos without the bamboo canes, but even at this stage they would be horizontal without the canes – fully open they would just break with the slightest wind.

Not long to go now, a couple of sunny days and this beauty will be fully open.

Some of the peonies are stripy, some are quite uniform pale pink. This was one of the few plants that were already here in my garden when I moved in, although I moved the peonies from its original place in a rather shady part of my garden to a sunny spot. They didn’t like that at all and sulked for 4 years – no flowers at all, but have since produced lots of lovely flowers every year.  

My poppies have finally opened up! This red one is called Papaver Orientale 'Beauty of Livermere'.

And this is Papaver Orientale 'Princess Victoria Louise'.

This is the first hydrangea flower to open. I have three hydrangeas, one Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' which produces white flowers, and two hydrangea macrophylla which produces flowers dependant of the pH in the soil. It is always exciting to see what colour the first flower on each plant will open up as, since subsequent flowers usually tend to be fairly the same colour. This one is called ‘Blue wave’, but this year it is anything but blue! It has been almost blue some years, and it has been a lot pinker some years. It is possible to regulate the pH in the soil to get perfectly blue flowers, but I think it is a bit like a Christmas present in spring every year to wait for the first hydrangeas to open – what colour will they be this year? I still have to wait for the other one to flower, it is in a shadier spot and have a week or two more to go :-)

I bought two small pots of Gerberas in a supermarket about 5 years ago, meant to only last that summer, but mine have overwintered and flowered prolifically every year since. I think I paid £1 for each of them so that was a good investment :-)

A bit bigger investment, but very well thought through was the purchase I made in January of three David Austin roses. I have wanted to buy some of those for a long time, but didn’t really think I had room for any. After reorganising my garden last autumn I managed to find room for three! The first one is now in full flower, Rose Susan Williams-Ellis, and she is such a lovely rose with a very sweet and fruity scent.

This is also a lovely rose, a pot rose I bought in a supermarket many years ago, meant for having indoors, but after it was finished flowering I planted it outside and it is smothered in roses from May until I cut it down again in February. A very good investment for a few quid!

This has been my absolute favourite rose of all time, mainly because this shade of red is my favourite colour, but also because this rose, Crimson cascade, is such a prolific bloomer. It was the first one to flower this spring and it will continue to flower into January.

This rose is called Freedom, and what it lacks in scent it more than makes up for in colour and appearance! Every flower is like a sunburst among the dark green foliage.

Here is another sunny star of the garden, it is actually called sunshine, Dahlia ‘sunshine’, and here is the first flower to open this spring. I have three plants, divided from the one I bought in B&Q on sale, half dead without any flowers and looking rather miserable, but for 50p I thought it was worth having a go rescuing it. That was 8 years ago, and boy has it been a great addition to my garden. I lifted and divided it 4 years ago into three plants, and I could possibly soon divide it again, if I had somewhere to put the new plants! I never lift the tubers in the winter, they stay in the ground all year round.

My rhododendron Dopey is in full flower, some of the flower heads are coming to an end but there are buds still to open so I think he will go on for another good few weeks. Dopey is a dwarf rhododendron and is now fully mature. He is part of a series of 7 dwarf rhododendrons named after the 7 Disney dwarfs, and I just wish I had room for them all in my garden :-)

Close-up of Dopey. I can give you a full list of the seven dwarfs, if you are interested in starting a collection. They all grow to a max height and width of 70-80cm.
Here are the colours of each of them:

  • Sleepy is pale lavender
  • Bashful is pink
  • Dopey is red
  • Grumpy is yellow-white
  • Sneezy is bright pink
  • Doc is pale pink
  • Happy is actually called Hoppy for some reason (!!) and is palest pink that fades to white.

And here is a little teaser for you for next GBBD, ever heard of Acanthus spinosus or Acanthus spinosa? I think both versions are just as used. What about ‘Bear's breeches’? Some people will call this a weed and not something for a garden, but I really like this architectural plant with the enormous, jagged, deep green glossy leaves. The spectacular spikes with white flowers with purple hoods that shoot up from the foliage and last for several weeks are equally impressive, as long as you don’t touch them – they are exceptionally sharp! This year I have an incredible 12 spikes, never had that many before, so again, thanks for all the rain, think it has done wonder for the Acanthus. It hasn’t really opened up any of the flowers yet so don’t worry if you don’t think this is anything to oh and ah over – I’ll be back with more pictures of this one next GBBD.

And next time I will show you all the plants that were nearly in flower but not really there, like the lilies, which I have around 120 of, the astilbes, which I have 2 of, my begonias, which have just barely started poking out of the ground, my 2 clematis, which are almost flowering, one has opened up one flower but that was it, but they both have lots of buds, crocosmias, which have no sign of buds yet, my other Dahlia, new of this year, the dregeas, which have lots of buds but no open flowers yet, hopefully some Echinacea Purpurea, but the plant show no sign of buds yet, and hopefully some Gladiolus, but again, no sign of buds yet. I’ve got two types of Hemerocallis, 7 plants in total, they have all tiny buds but there’s a long way to go yet (very late!), and I also got more roses that haven’t yet started flowering. That’s all to come the next month plus some I have already mentioned above. Next month I will probably have even more pictures to show you than today, hope you have enjoyed the tour of my garden, why don’t you head over to Carol’s place at May Dreams Garden’s  and see what’s flowering in gardens all over the world right now?
Until next time, take care.


  1. Hi Helen - I think your garden is looking stunning, I love all the lush green growth. I too like ‘Bear's breeches’ and planted some in a difficult shadey spot and have to say it does the job. It covers and ugly area in deep shade with its gorgeous large interesting foliage. What's not to love?

    Your blooms are all gorgeous! Happy GBBD :)

  2. Your garden is lovely, and your photos are beautiful. I love the look of the Disporopsis, and am green with envy over your roses and the peonies.

  3. Helen I love the fullness of your gardesns. They are so beautiful and I especially enjoyed the peony. Happy GBBD!

  4. We in Kansas are quite opposite your precipitation amounts and are earlier than normal with our blooms. Very nice array of flowers. I like the foliage of the bears breeches.

  5. Hope you get some sun! It's interesting to see how weather affects the timing of flowers. Everything is lovely and lush, and I think you have a wise attitude toward hydrangeas.

  6. aloha helene,

    beautiful, it does look like spring in your garden, i love all the roses and your beautiful david austin, wish i could grow these in my area, its just to wet and humid.

  7. Your garden looks splendid! I love acanthus - not sure if it will be winter hardy in my area, but I plan to give it a try. Your roses are beautiful and everything else too!

  8. Hello Helene
    I love the Solomon's Seal Wannabee! and oh the peonies! the roses! the dahlia! And Dopey still going strong - so pretty!

  9. You know I love the roses! But those peonies about to burst into bloom look so sweet. What anticipation you must feel! I can not believe your camellia bloomed for four months!!! I guess that was a good thing about your strange weather - and the fact, of course, that you don't have a hose pipe ban anymore!

  10. Well 'Dopey' is simply lovely! He certainly doesn't live up to his name. Love those Roses!! The Peonies always take my breath away too. Everything is looking so good after all the rain. How amazing that you've managed to get those Gerberas coming back every year. Well done! The Disporopsis is so sweet, but my favourite this time is that beautiful Dahlia. Fingers crossed there's a break in the rain soon.

  11. Helene... your gardens look spectacular!! Larry

  12. Thank you all for your kind messages! It’s amazing to see how much the weather has had an impact on my garden this year – but that’s gardening for you, I guess :-)

  13. Oh, I just love peonies! Your garden is beautiful. Glad to find you via the Garden Blogger's Bloom Day! :-)


  14. Beautiful post...I REALLY need to add some Cylamen to my garden this fall!

  15. Oh, please send some rain our way. We've hit of a drought here at PlantPostings. Your garden looks like a sweet, healthy oasis.

  16. Lovely photos, I particularly like the oriental poppies, the gerbera and the dahlia.
    I'm growing Acanthus mollis which is like yours but without the spiky foliage. I've got a flower spike too, no flowers yet though.


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