Think twice when designing a Rose garden

Elaeagnus x ebbingei, an evergreen shrub, is grown as a ‘standard’ in this garden.  Last year I left it to grow a little bit wild over the summer so we could enjoy the fabulous scent it gives out when flowering in the autumn.


Autumn came and went and the (insignificant) flowers came as hoped, but the scent did not linger in the air as I had wished for.  Our semi-formal rose garden looked quite  shabby for the duration of summer so my hand was forced  to keep them trim this year.  Armed with secateurs it took 2 of us the best part of a day this week, to get them back in shape. We could have pruned them with shears, which is a quicker process, however this will cut the leaves, which then get a brown edge and spoil the overall appearance of the plant.


Having done that job, I returned to the garden for a second day this week to start pruning the box hedges around the roses.  These can be started with a hedge trimmer and given a neat finish with shears.  Again this is a very time consuming business.  With 2 of us working, we still didn’t manage to get round all the hedges in a day.  There is a lot of clearing up do afterwards.  Our relatively strong backs were also not thanking us for a day of diligent pruning – at such a low level.

When that is done I see that the roses are beginning to go over and they require a lot of time dead-heading.  A very worthwhile job to acheive a longer flowering period.  Whilst doing this we are also weeding under the roses  despite a good mulching at the beginning of the year.  In a bad year for ‘black spot’ usually after a warm damp Spring (fortunately not this year), we are also sweeping up all the dead and yellowed diseased leaves from under the roses.

When we finally feel we can leave this area, we know that the Nepeta underplanting the roses needs cutting right back to get a second flush of flowers for later in the year..

Hang on a moment … before we know it, we have spent all season in this area and the rest of the garden is going to pot.

For these reasons, stunning as this garden is, I strongly recommend giving rose gardens lots of thought when planting.


In another garden I work in, the roses are dotted through the border.




This could be a better picture to demonstrate how well this can work, so you’ll have to just take my word for it,  but it really does…


The Extraordinary and the Beautiful

Phytolacca Americana – Pokeweed has these spectacular pink green flowers that become mushy black berries in late summer.  It is poisonous to humans but provides a feast for some birds.




My gorgeous Rosa New dawn has crept into the photo



Also photo bombing is Black Bryony.  Another poisonous plant with glossy green heart shaped leaves and wonderful red berries. It is a twining climber common in our hedgerows…so beautiful but so dangerous.  I’m always in two minds whether to remove it or leave it be.

In the same border I continued to cloud-prune my Phillyrea latifolia this week.





I’m actually quite proud of my intervention with nature 🙂



My top tip for summer gardening…



I was recently asked to write a few words about summer gardening and so I thought I would share that with you:

The Summer can be the hardest season of all for gardening. After the rush of growth in late spring, keeping up with all the jobs to do to keep the garden looking just ‘right’ can seem like an uphill battle. There’s the weeding, the watering, the dead heading, the pruning, mowing, edging, hedge trimming, tying-in and more and more watering. The ground is often too hard to work and there’s always something you forgot to stake, by which time it is too late.

Then you have to contend with the ants, bees and horseflies, slugs, snails, rabbits, chickens and in some gardens even deer.

Children playing games and diving into the borders after lost balls and dogs digging holes and the neighbours cats – well I won’t even go there…

The sweltering heat and relentless sun can burn you up and slow you right down.

Then family and friends are outside enjoying being in the garden. Eating drinking and admiring your handiwork and all you can see are the jobs that still need to be done.

My top tip for summer gardening is stop look and listen. Sense the lingering perfumes on the air and the breeze wafting through the leaves and petals. See the light shining through all the different greens and coloured petals. Just enjoy the remarkable detail and structure nature has created from the tallest tree to the tiniest weed.

This is the most important thing to do in a gardeners year, as all too soon it is gone.



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We have been enjoying the roses and the little Erigeron this week,

whilst spending plenty of time weeding.


Bea and Pauline are still happy even after a very hot day, I love these girls!

Pauline was in the greenhouse today staking tomatoes, here are her tips



Make time for your flowers now as some don’t last for long





Gardening is….Satisfaction

First of all, there are no black fly on the broad beans… woohoo

Secondly, it was only 2 months ago that I was pruning this climbing rose on the garden wall… (Madame Alfred Carriere)



Admittedly I thought mid-April was a bit late but hey ho


… it worked beautifully!

The cloud pruning is working too – 3 years down the line




Just need a ladder to finish it next time.

Staking earlier on this year has been a blessing for these huge peony blooms



The sweet peas have started to flower already on their hazel wig-wam


And I couldn’t wish for more bees bees bees on the chives chives chives.  So easy to grow and divide, anyone can do it:


Cotula hispida – a darling alpine flowering now

Cotula hispida

If you are ever wondering what to plant between stepping stone paving, this is the gem you should buy.  It has fluffy silver green foliage and daisy-like flowers without the white petals, like little yellow buttons on dainty stems.  It is very hardy and spreading.

Well worth getting down on your knees for!




A handful of flowers for home…



Thank you to my lovely client Nigs for allowing me to pick some beauties for my vase


I am supporting British Flowers Week again this year!

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More summertime jobs and the weather is warming up nicely


Pauline (above), Bea and I were whipping through the borders yesterday having a good old clear out of spring flowering plants that are sadly now over, but making room for the almighty perennials that have sprung up in the last month..


The garden is looking spectacular and is just the best place to be on days like this




The First days of Summer



Today we had a delivery of mushroom compost – basically  a year old horse manure that has had mushrooms growing in it. Good  for keeping down the weeds, not particularly high in nutrients and also good for helping the soil retain moisture during the summer months.



Not so much fun and games getting covered in horse poo from head to foot:

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Other highlights of the day – The London pride is flowering and so are the wonderful foxgloves: