the name of the rose

P1290430Last week, whilst thinking about how to fit more roses into my garden, I dug out these photographs. Way back in June, on the summer solstice no less, we took the girls and Sybil for an early evening game of frisbee in the grounds of Ashton Court.

Frisbee isn’t really my thing, so I wandered off to the rose garden instead.

P1290443There is nothing particularly remarkable about this formal garden: it contains hundreds of roses, all of which are planted either in long borders or circular and crescent shaped beds. A simple metal fence, installed in 2006 to keep the deer out, surrounds the whole. Though unexceptional, I always leave Ashton Court rose garden with a head full of ideas.

P1290444 P1290458Sadly, although I leave inspired, there’s not much I can do about acting on the inspiration.  Unless you know your roses really, really well, you haven’t a hope in hell of identifying anything at Ashton Court. Apparently there are over 160 different cultivars in the rose garden and not one of them is labelled.

P1290456Consequently, tracking down the roses I fall in love with feels virtually impossible — I’ve tried comparing my photos with tiny thumbnail images in catalogues to no avail. Is the one above Teasing Georgia, I wonder? And could the one below that be William Lobb? Looks very like it, but no, the buds are not mossy.


P1290460As it was all replanted fairly recently the planting plan must surely exist somewhere. Extensive googling has thrown up nothing so far. But I have it on good authority that a plan does exist, and I’ve made it my mission to track it down. Wish me luck.




P1290135I don’t suppose these will last more than a day, as I find woody plants don’t seem to fare very well in the vase. But it seemed a shame to consign these stems to the compost alongside the other deadheads, stalks and general pruning I amassed this morning.

P1290142Since planting them three years ago, my two Cistus plants have grown so enormous that they now meet as one in the centre of the bed. Fortunately their relatively scraggy habit allows similarly thug-like plants, such as hardy geraniums, to co-habit: the geraniums use the cistus as a climbing frame.

I like the contrast between the tiny geranium flowers and the floppy, showy pink of the Cistus. Although each flower only lasts a day or two, buds keep appearing and the flowers will keep the garden colourful until late in the year; my house too, no doubt.

snip, snip

P1290050At last! Flowers to cut for the house.

P1290079Not quite enough to fill a large vase (yet), but three small ones clustered together will do.

Linking with Little Green Shed’s Nature in the Home round up, as it’s always inspiring to see what other people are gathering from their gardens around the world.

spring cheats

P1280141Spring has most definitely sprung since my last post. And when away from my desk I have been enjoying the few bulbs I managed to plant last autumn — though I must confess that these grape hyacinths, like the Narcissus in this post, are something of a cheat.

About a month ago I bought a tray of potted bulbs going cheap at the market, the green shoots were just up, and I planted them in a trough. Since then I’ve been digging them up, a clump at a time, and bringing them into the house to enjoy whilst working.

Even though the weather has been fine their growth is fairly slow outside, but once in the house you can almost see their stalks moving as they take off. I’m quite enjoying this slightly cheaty approach to gardening — more on the path of least resistance for gardeners soon.

it’s raining again …

… but there’s an upside to the relentless rain: the garden is looking lush and green.

P1270693Or at least it looks lush and green from a distance. Closer inspection, conducted yesterday when the sun made a brief appearance, revealed that there is much work to be done.

P1270694And last Autumn’s uncharacteristically restrained bulb order hasn’t helped. Back in November I was delighted by the speed with which I was able to plant my bulbs, but now I am filled with regret. I watch and wait over one wine crate filled with tulips — Attila — and an old wash tub filled with ranunculus*, all the while wishing I’d planted more.

P1270709Yesterday afternoon I spotted pots of  Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ in M&S (£1 a pot) and I decided a little set-dressing was in order. I bought as many as I could carry and decided to concentrate my efforts on the part of the garden I can see from the kitchen.

The rest of the garden will have to wait until the weather has improved. For now I have a bit of instant Spring —meteorologically-speaking it is Spring, but half the time it still feels like winter — in the form of bright narcissus against clouds of Clematis armandii.

*at least I think it’s a tub of ranunculus — note-keeping is not my strong point. I do remember ordering some, I think I planted them here…


P1270360This time last year these anemones were flowering in my garden. Planted in an old wine box, their jewel-bright flowers provided an exotic splash of colour throughout the winter (first appearing in October 2012 and valiantly doing their thing until mid-March 2013).

They haven’t returned this year, but I’m not too disappointed. Much as I love Anemone coronaria De Caen — the sooty stamen, which look like someone’s been at them with the mascara, and the soft, velvety petals which come in such glorious colours * — I always felt they looked somewhat incongruous in the garden. I’ve decided I prefer these anemones in the vase, which is fortunate as the florists are filled with them at this time of year. That’s not to say that I won’t be tempted to buy more corms later this year though.

P1270359The deep violet blue flowers above (my favourites, I think) were at my parents’ house in London this weekend, and the ones below are here in Bristol.

P1270370I bought this bunch last week when the buds were still so tightly closed that I had no idea which colour/s would be waiting for me on my return. I got a nice surprise yesterday: a blowsy explosion in my favourite jug which, by chance, suits them perfectly.

For some wonderfully detailed, highly magnified photographs of individual flowers click HERE— it’s amazing what a google search can lead you too.

this evening

P1220302I understand from various photographer friends that 5am is the best time to photograph a garden. Sadly I cannot get my lazy bones out of bed at that time, and so although I know that 8pm is nothing like a fair substitute, it will have to do.

This is how the garden looked ten minutes ago.


P1220303The trellis is a little overbearing (though I’ve managed to avoid it in these shots), but by this time next year it will have weathered nicely and, I hope, it will be hidden by climbers such as Clematis montana Tetrarose, which smells delicious.

P1220294 P1220301The bottom of the garden is a bit of a hotchpotch, and my runner beans are holding it all together while I decide what I want to plant here in the autumn. But yesterday these wonderful irises (White Bridge from Nyssen) finally opened. A second clump, in a shadier spot, have yet to unfurl. I’m itching to cut a few stems, but can’t bring myself to rob this part of the garden of its star performer.

P1220293One of the prettiest geraniums, Splish Splash (who thinks up these inane names?) also opened this morning. I planted it around the base of R. William Lobb last autumn and I hope it will look good alongside the deep pink rose which should open soon.

But the real excitement for me, and the reason I went out with my camera this evening, was the sight of the first flowers of Ferdinand Pichard. More on him tomorrow.

NB The geraniums in the shot above the irises are Mrs Kendall Clark (pale blue) and, deep breath, g. x oxonianum f. thurstonianum (hot pink star-like flowers), both firm favourites of mine and fantastic as a cut flowers.