An Instagram retrospective of June & July 2017
June began scorchingly. In fact, you could have been forgiven for thinking we weren’t in good old Blighty, so warm was the sun and blue the sky. Rather a difference from now, but that’s the joy of the British weather.
“What’s that smell?” asked the nice lady whose garden I was looking after this afternoon, as she brought me a cup of tea and TWO biscuits. 🍪🍪 (As a rule of thumb, don’t ever garden for people who don’t bring you tea. It’s not an infallible guide, but it’s a pretty good indicator. Biscuits and/or cake seals the deal.) 🍪🍰 It was a nice “What’s that smell?”, in spite of the heat, the slightly sweaty gardener, and unlike yesterday when the same question led to the discovery of half a rotting badger in the orchard. So we both wandered about the garden, sniffing flowers, until I dragged the ladder over to the enormous yucca** which for most of the year sits around looking like Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. Sure enough, the marvellous white flower spikes crowning the huge muppet plant were emitting the most heady jasmine-like fragrance – with the sun and the sky, and the perfume, we could have been on a tropical island, rather than a small garden in Kent. Or, as was mentioned, “somewhere even more exotic than Torquay”. 🌿 It may just about be possible to look slightly rugged for a second or two, hopping about atop ladders chucking around large throbbing petrol engines with long blades attached to them, but anyone who knows me even slightly will be aware that I spend most of my working day in conversation with earthworms, discussing the weather with robins, or skipping about sniffing flowers. And drinking tea. ☕️ 🌿 ** actually a cordyline, as spotted by @jackjjw, but we call it a yucca in a generic kind of way. Or Oscar, which is better. 🌿 #iphoneography #mystoryoflight #tostandandstare
What is it about a good paeony that's so pleasing? Is it the fat flower buds nodding on long stems? The generous, tightly packed petals? Or the way that beautiful flower sits so perfectly in the palm of one hand, like a plump little Christmas pudding. Only... you know. Much prettier to look at. Probably all these things, and more. You can never have too many paeonies in your life. 🌸🌿❤️ #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #olympuspenpro #tostandandstare #thepinkstagram
Another outing for the splendid #mygardenrightnow hashtag from VegPlotting’s Michelle Chapman had folk across social media sharing images of their gardens. Here at home, the alliums were out, and the geums were lending their colour to the borders, even if Bill was insisting on rampaging through the plants.
Observe, if you will, the #borderterrier sized hole in the border where a a big allium should be. Bill is looking his most innocent just now. 🌿 Delighted to be taking part in the #mygardenrightnow hashtag project with @vegplotting for Chelsea Fringe this weekend. Why not join in with a pic of you in your own, doesn't matter what state either you or the garden is in! 🌿 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
June really kicked off the pink rose theme, followed hot on the heels by the pink paeony trope. I don’t think it was just on my instagram, but there’s no denying I have an eye for pink flowers. I’m not sure I can account for this, except by observing their resemblance to scoops of ice-cream, to which I’m rather partial. This is as good an explanation as you’re likely to get, and as justifications go, it’s quite as convincing as many we’re asked to swallow in these interesting times.
I seem to have developed a thing for pink roses. There, I've said it. I know it's not very butch (though did you know that until the early twentieth century pink was thought to be an appropriate colour for boys?), but there it is. I even bought three, and planted them "for Emma" coughs… these have yet to produce their first flowers, so for now I'm enjoying everybody else's. There may be a rash of pink flowers about to break out over my grid, for which I'm immensely unapologetic. 🌹 🌸💕🌿#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thepinkstagram
Still with the pink roses, I'm most awfully #sorrynotsorry. In all honesty, I'm just getting started, and the pink paeonies have come out now so you might as well settle in for the duration. Alas as this isn't my rose but rather one I've snapped in the garden of a client (who didn't plant it), I can't tell you what it is a lovely healthy plant, though, and beautiful blooms of tightly packed petals. 🌸🌹🌿💕#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #lovelyairylove #thepinkstagram
Maybe the last of our new pink roses this year. Those little bare-root sticks I planted in March have done us proud, I can't wait to see the plants put on bulk over the next rest of the year in preparation for a more sustained show in 2018. Roses never cease to amaze me – and to think, I never used to like them! This one is Scepter'd Isle, repeat flowering, disease resistant and wonderfully perfumed. It was Richard II's favourite rose, apparently. 🌿🌸🌹✨🌿#mystoryoflight #lovelyairylove #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thepinkstagram #gothictonic 🌿🌹🌿Utter rubbish.
Last week's turbulent gusts proved too much for some flowers in the garden, which just means we get to enjoy these paeonies indoors for a few days. An ill wind, they say. 🌸💕💨Today's forecast is SCORCHIO ☀️☀️I have hedges to cut, and I'm just trying to remember if they're in the shade. I think they might be. But don't forget, folks… wear sunscreen. ☀️🌿🌸☀️#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thepinkstagram
We’ve been receiving further treasures from the Plant Post Club run by the lovely folk at GeoFleur. Not only fascinating (and hard to murder) succulents and cacti, but gorgeous ceramics too. Such a treat!
So far, keeping me away from the #succulents seems to be working – none have yet died, and the collection is gradually increasing. This little wonder is Crassula marnieriana, or the jade necklace vine, which arrived in its fabulous ceramic pot courtesy of the lovely folk at @geo_fleur and their plant post club. A treat every month! 🌵👏🏼🌵#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk
As a foil for all the pink I've been throwing at @Instagram lately, I thought I'd introduce the restful glaucous blue tones of Echeveria colorata. Several plants do a combination of pink and blue grey, Rosa glauca, stachys among them. Even this succulent will eventually develop a bright pink flower spike. For now though, I'm just enjoying its calm tones and the play of light and shade over the geometry of its leaves. 🌵✨🌵#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #succulents #tostandandstare
Meanwhile, outside in the garden, the houseleeks seemed to be enjoying the weather as June turned to July.
A busy few weeks ahead, in which I'm going to have to be super efficient if I'm to keep hold of those creative spaces without which modern living can become a bit of a treadmill. Thankfully, my work diary is filled with lovely clients and their wonderful gardens, plants and 'outdoor offices'. And my non work diary with friends, and cake. And plants and gardens! So, busy, but good busy. How do you keep sane when at your busiest, do tell? 🌿🌸#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare 🌸🌿
…while the rest of the garden was going romantically bonkers.
It's all gone a bit Secret Garden at home. Days of heat and strong sunshine followed by heavy rains will do that if you turn your back for a moment and, other than making sure the watering in the greenhouse and the pots is attended to, I've let the garden get on with itself for the last week or so. Consequently the lawn is now sporting a fine plantation of ribwort plantain, all about to go to seed – there may be a bit of grass in there, but not so's you notice. The bindweed is prodigious, and I'm leaving the hedge trimming till the lovely folk at @paskettpr send me a battery powered machine to review for the blog post Hampton Court next week. The place is teetering on the edge of verdant chaos, which is just how I like it. 🌿🌿☀️🌧🌸🌿#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
How did I love the Colour Box garden by Charlie Bloom at #RHSHampton Court Flower Show yesterday? I could barely tear myself away. Charlie created it all with no sponsor, just by asking companies and members of the gardening twitter community to pitch in. This is unheard of for a show garden, and so encouraging. Also, immensely beautiful. 💛💗💚🌿🌸✨#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
The warm weather has brought everything on a little early this year, and some of the lavender will need cutting sooner than usual if we’re to preserve the nice, round pebble shapes of the plants and prevent them going leggy. It’s particularly important to remove the flowers if you’re moving the plants at this time of year, which can be a tricky endeavour at the best of times.
I was asked to move some mature lavender plants yesterday (quite rightly, they were in completely the wrong place and lolling about desperately in an effort to reach the afternoon light). Dissuading an established lavender from sulking itself to death in its new location – even if it is better than the old one – is a bit touch and go, and they need all the help they can get. One thing they don't want is loads of flower on them; making flowers and seed is exhausting for a plant, and it needs to concentrate on making roots and sugars for growth. So, SNIP SNIP, and several bunches of joy for the lovely family who live here. 🌿🌿#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
I became rather enamoured of the David Austin rose ‘Lady of Shallot’, which just goes to show, I don’t just do pink.
The mirror crack'd from side to side. 'The curse has come upon me!' cried...🌹 ...the 'Lady of Shallot', a rose I rather fell in love with at #RHSHampton. One of several apricot hued roses I've got my eye on (branching out from pink, y'see!). 🌹✨🌿#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #gothictonic
The weather’s taken a turn for the dull and rainy, but the plants in the garden are doing their best to put on a brave face.
Five deep red hearts and a furry little centre. This is the scarlet cinquefoil, Potentilla thurberi 'Monarch's Velvet', which is flowering its regal socks off at the moment, and looking mighty fine even after the rain. It's wonderfully low maintenance and gives colour right through summer. It's also really easy to split to build up your stock and give plants to friends, which is the very best way to build your garden, and help others to build theirs! Go out and find one (or a friend who's got one!). ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🔴👑🌿#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
A slightly weather battered Anemone 'Königin Charlotte', still manages to steal the show even on a bad hair day (flowers have them too, you know). Like all Japanese anemones, this one takes a few years to get established, but once she's got herself comfortable she'll gradually start to conquer all in her path. With beautiful and robust flowers like this from now until autumn, who can argue with Queen Lottie? ✨🌸👑✨💕#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #gothictonic #thepinkstagram
With the possible exception of Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, who likes any excuse to sulk.
Annabelle's in a complete strop. This rain in July is no good for a girl with a delicate complexion and a big head on lanky limbs. Even if she is a hydrangea. Just now, she's sitting in the corner like Kevin the Teenager, with a right old monk on. So I've relieved her of a few flowers, brought them indoors and stuffed them rather unceremoniously into a jar. She's glaring at me from across the room now. 🌿☔️🌿#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #gothictonic #fb
Just as August looms over the horizon, the dahlias make their appearance. One of the first to flower this year is also one of the largest and, out of interest, one of the dahlias we chose to leave in the ground over winter, protected by an extra layer or two of mulch.
Rocking the tousled look, this is Dahlia 'Penhill Watermelon'. Huge salmon pink and yellow blooms, almost as big as your head (no, not yours madam. Let's be serious for a minute.). I love dahlias, not just for their colour, but also for their variety of shape - balls, pom-poms, anemones, water lilies, to name but a few. This spiky affair is known as a semi-cactus type, and that's not the effect of wind and rain, it's supposed to look like that! Which just goes to show. Even flowers can have bed hair. 💕✨🌸🌿✨#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #thepinkstagram #fb
The black cat dahlia, 'Chat Noir', looking dreamy here. An effect achieved through years of photographic experience (my fat sausage finger got in front of the lens and I decided I quite liked the look!). Every day at the moment, another dahlia appears, like a flamboyant old friend. It's one of my favourite things about high summer in the garden. 🌿 . 🌿 . #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #fb
How did you find June & July in your garden? Let me know on twitter, or in the comments below.