Of Golden rain and Granny’s bonnets


Laburnum vossi


the giant thistle, Onopordum acantheum, still a baby, with Verbascum in the foreground

A week of high pressure, sunshine and warmth has really pushed the garden on. Indeed, this has been a weekend of watering to ensure that the sunflowers, new herbaceous, sweet peas and transplanted polyanthus don’t suffer a check. In previous years, we’ve found that the sweet peas can often suffer quite a check in growth once planted out. This year, we germinated the seed much later and as soon as they were ready to go out (early May), we planted them out. No yellowing leaves, no check – something to note for next year – don’t be in too much of a hurry to plant them in the spring!

20130609-172034.jpgThis weekend, we have started to plant out the Dahlias – between the two teacup yews in the walled garden and round in the ‘kitchen garden’, the air of which is now filled with the scent of the white lilac.The dahlias should provide a welcome blast of strong colour right through until the first frosts. As well as a dwarf variety, we are also growing Bishops Children again with its lovely dark-red foliage, a perfect foil for the almost tropical-coloured blooms. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll get the other bedding planted out; for the moment, it can stay cosseted in the greenhouse, with a weekly feed of Phostrogen to keep it moving.


Tree peony in the woodland (species not known)

The rhododendrons in the woodland this year have been marvellous and just keep on coming – a positive legacy 20130609-171910.jpgfrom last summer’s washout! With them the focus of attention at the moment, I nearly missed the tree peony flowering there – unlike the yellow Ludlowii which seeds itself in the walled garden, this one is a more modest size and a has a rather old-fashioned, poppy-shaped, dark red flower.


the east-facing border, with Perennial cornflower (Centaurea Montana) and Heuchera in the foreground


lupins in the south-facing border – quite a spectacle!

As the days go on, the herbaceous starts to change from green to technicolour – irises, geraniums, blue perennial cornflower, lupins in all shades, to name but a few, but my favourite are the Granny’s Bonnets – aquilegia,


Aquilegia, ‘Granny’s Bonnets’, surely one of the most diverse cottage-garden perennials






a contrast of golden and dark-purple acers (Crimson King) growing in the policies near the pond. The deciduous trees at this time of the year are at their best.

which we grew from seed a couple of years ago and which are themselves now starting to set seed. Each clump offers a different colour combination – some blowsy, some quite unassuming – all very beautiful.


Laburnum vossi

Finally, our Laburnum, now freed from the deep shade caused by a tall holly,  is in full blossom now – a cascade of golden rain – surely one of the most beautiful early summer trees.


the south-facing border looking east, with Aquilegia in the foreground, Verbascum and lupins in the distance

8 thoughts on “Of Golden rain and Granny’s bonnets

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