May 27, 2012

a perfect weekend

Wow, it really has been a perfect weekend. The sun has shone, not even a cloud in the sky, and the hammock and yurt have gone up in the garden. The hammock is possibly my favourite place in the whole world, it is suspended between two trees in our garden, with a view of a field on one side, this time of year spied through a haze of cowparsley, and the garden on the other, tree canopy up above.

Nowhere is more relaxing when it is warm and a gentle breeze is floating about. The views from the hammock look like this:

We are freakishly lucky to have this borrowed view along one whole side of our garden, requiring nothing from us but eliciting our unbridled gratitude and pleasure all year round, but never more so than May.

The garden seems to be growing an inch a minute at the moment, and I thought a quick round up of a few of the star performers would be useful because I know quite a few of you are quite new to gardening or to growing flowers to cut, so I thought I might flag a few real do-ers that achieve four main criteria - easy to grow, beautiful in the garden, perfect as a cut flower and prolific. All definitely worth a go, in my books. These are all plants I grow in my garden without chemicals and I do not have the time to pamper my plants, so they are toughies! My soil is chalky and free draining, so if yours is very different, you may find other plants thrive best for you, but having said that, all these plants are pretty unfussy.

I love the carefree, airy elegance of wild cowparsley so much, I decided this year to add an ornamental form to the garden, I thought it might look nice with the alliums, and I am really delighted with the combination.  The stems are the colour of bitter chocolate and the flower umbels are arranged like the gorgeous branching stems of the wild cousin. The posh name for the plant is anthriscus sylvestris 'Raven's Wing', and it is available from Crocus and other plant suppliers. New favourite.

The rampantly self-seeded white nigella is everywhere, but I forgive it for looking fantastic in its lime-green frothy-ness before the flowers come out, the delicious looking flowers which will arrive in a couple of weeks and then the wacky looking seedpods that look good in the garden and the vase as a  foliage filler - that is a lot of value for a self seeded annual, no?

The alliums really are stealing the show at the moment, there is no easier plant for max-ing the glamour stakes of your garden, honestly, take it from me if you have well drained soil and a modicum of sun in your garden, throw them into the ground in the autumn and forget about them for ever more and you will have year after year of wow-factor, and they cut like a florist's dream.

 I also love them with catmint and the stipa gigantea grass just beginning to open its pannicles.

I still like the allium -bronze fennel combo, but blimey that fennel gets around, I am digging it up everywhere, and it is a pig to dig (she says, bursting into rap at the memory!).

If purple ain't your bag, the white version is very pretty.

Meanwhile, in other areas of the garden, the anemones are flowering away, just keep deadheading and they go on for weeks. I have heard from a few of you that you have had trouble getting yours to thrive, I have done absolutely nothing to help mine along which just goes to show that certain plants just thrive in certain conditions/soil types and others just grump. I have disappointment after disappointment with hydrangeas, which I would LOVE to grow, and verbascum and foxtail lillies sulk a lot too, so I think you just have to go with nature and focus on what naturally thrives on your plot, annoying as that might be? The anemones do make a fantastic cut flower, usually unavailable in florists, so I am particularly glad they have agreed to flower for me!

The Hesperis matronalis (sweet rocket) continues the white and purple theme, it grows high and strong and the scent is wonderful, especially in the evening. Plus it attracts pollinators and is a wonderful cut flower. Swoon.

This is another prolific self-seeding annual, sow it once and you will never have to again. Result.

So there is my list of wonderful plants to try for early summer beauty in your cut flower garden: anthriscus, alliums, catmint, nigella, anemones, sweet rocket and I will add one more, orlaya grandiflora - another wildly self seeding annual that provides weeks of cowparsley-like charm in the garden and in bouquets, I didn't sow a single seed this year and look at how much popped up!

But love all these flowers though I do, the sight of a green field, a bit of stock fencing and billowing wild cowparsley is what makes these earliest days of summer the best. It is just is not possible to beat nature at her own game, however hard I try! And thank goodness for that! :)


  1. Thank you for such an interesting post. I would love to be able to plan and grow plants in my garden for all year coverage and colour. Unfortunately with a dog running around, most things tend to get trampled on. I love the chocolate stem on the Ravens Wing.
    Your photos, as always, are stunning x

  2. Made a swoony groan out loud at the first picture. JEALOUS! I'm in bed with the windows open so who knows what the neighbours thought. Ha!

    Bookmarking this page for my planning for next year's garden. The bug has well and truly bitten me.

    Wish I'd planted my alliums earlier - I think they're one of my favourite flowers and I didn't even know about them until I read your blog. The purple variety is my fave. Ah well, I can be ready to plant them this Autumn.

    Any broken digits this weekend or did it all go swimmingly? :-)

    Nicki xx

  3. Oh my, a hammock, a yurt, and that view ... how envious am I! I have views across open country here, if only from the upstairs windows. But if I put up a yurt I'd probably barely have room to walk round it.

    I shall just have to live the summer garden life vicariously through your gorgeous pictures :D

  4. So lovely to take a wander around your garden and see what's making you the Alliums.
    We have acquired a hammock recently but as the trees have all lost their leaves we're thinking of putting it up and doing some star gazing at night.......

    Your photos once again Belinda are just gorgeous.

    My favourite Summer flower is the Zinnia, long lasting, hardy, value for money and they come in a rainbow of gorgeous clear colours. You get to cut loads of bunches throughout the season. Plenty to bring inside and more to give away to friends......

    Hope the fine weather continues, hanging out in the hammock sounds perfect.

    Claire :}

  5. That hammock looks like bliss, what a lovely view you have. I saw a new variety of Anemone on t.v. "Bordeaux" that definitely looks worth growing.

  6. D'accord! yes, yes,yes to your must have plant list Belinda...we are of the same mind. My anemones are finally having a go! I think I need to dead-head though! I must also boost my Nigella quota as seeing yours en masse was very inspirational...oh and I NEED a hammock!

    Have a brilliant week,

    Sarah -x-

  7. This makes me want to be sitting out in your garden right now. It looks beautiful :) x x x x

  8. Your flowers look great - no surprise there! my allium is gone, but nigella is thriving. Plan to add anemones, since I finally have two thriving ... it can be done. Can't wait for the later things to come into flower!

  9. I had Allium Christophii for years, I loved their giant seedheads, but the last winter killed them off.

  10. Belinda...honestly, your photogrpahy is just stunning. I would love to know which settings you use on your camera and I am hoping this is not all on automatic! :) xx

  11. Beautiful photographs of your garden Belinda. The anemones and alliums look really pretty! Wish I had a hammock like yours. It looks VERY comfortable :-)

    I hope the beautiful weather will continue a little while longer. Enjoy!

    Madelief x

  12. oh wow. love everything about your garden, as usual.............

  13. What a lovely and informative post, thank you. I planted anemones this Spring which should, hopefully, bloom in the Fall which is nice since everything will be fading. I can only hope they are as beautiful as yours...and firstly they need to show up :)

  14. Lovely garden pics as ever Belinda. I scattered loads of Orlaya Grandiflora seeds around the edge of the garden in about March but nothing has come up yet - will they appear later in the summer do you think?

    I have the same coloured anemones in a pot and also in the ground - I love their silky texture just before they bloom. Nigellas pop up everywhere in my garden too but I love them!


  15. Gorgeous pictures - idyllic garden. Enjoy!