There are 2 square flower beds at the front of the house, both had purely red roses in them but unfortunately the roses in one bed started dying off. Slowly, each year, 2 or more would die and it just looked sad. We decided it was probably honey fungus doing the damage, as a tree close by had recently been taken down and potentially the roots were left to rot underground and this is where honey fungus can start. Anything in the Rosa family becomes a target of this fungus. So we have replanted the bed with ‘freebies’ to test what can actually live in a soil infested by honey fungus.
In the centre we have the lovely Euphorbia mellifera…. if you have one, you usually have seedlings near-by. Ironically this is sometimes called the ‘honey bush’ due to the sweet smell of its insignificant flowers. It is a very versatile evergreen shrub. I love it – and it survives honey fungus!!!!. Surrounding that we have some gorgeous ferns .. I think they are Matteucia strutheopteris and they survive honey-fungus and then some fabulous bulbs .. Scilla peruviana (Cuban Lily) These are fantastic ground cover. They come up now, flower in the Spring and continue to thrive for a couple more months before we cut them back. What a great plant for difficult conditions. And…. they survive honey fungus
Then we have the gorgeous Dahlia Hillcrest Royal – if anything would beat off competition with a pure red rose garden this is a serious contender
We have dug them up this year to divide in the spring and also to propagate from:
The head-liners of the border right now are the Dahlias. They will flower their little hearts out until the first frost. We still have at least a month down here in the south of England, to enjoy them, providing we keep on top of the dead-heading. We tend to do this twice a week but can get away with once a week.
We cut them when the outer petals are looking scruffy, as Emma demonstrates in the following video. However if you leave the flowers longer and the petals drop off, sometimes it is difficult to identify which are new buds coming and which are over. There is a simple method of identifying the new buds from those that have gone over:
Between the 2 flowers of Dahlia Honka above, there is a new bud coming which is round.
And here you can see (top left) a flower on the same plant that is over and is slightly longer and more pointed. So off with its head!
The pink flowers above are the fashionably late flowering perennials, Echinacea purpurea – just bursting out now. There are other interesting varieties and beautiful shades of Echinacea purpurea but none are as reliably hardy as this tough old boot and it is fabulous.
This is one of my first Dahlias in flower this season – D.’Karma Chocolate’ with a background of Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, a white Hydrangea and brilliant red Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. I love the colour combo.
This bright pink Lychnis coronaria is another ‘Free spirit’ self-seeding around the garden and amazingly adding a well spaced and enjoyable colour combination to the purple Phlox in this border.
I had to add this photo of Trachelospernum jasminoides flowering madly at the front door. The perfume of this evergreen climber is heavenly.
Note to self : Allium sphaerocephalon need staking early on. We missed the opportunity and what a disaster. Allium sphaerocephalon luckily, look great in a vase.
The first week in May is usually the date in the gardening calendar which we, (in the south of England) really look forward to. Our greenhouses are bursting with plants that we desperately want to get out into the garden to make room for our tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines to be planted in their final places inside the greenhouse. Even my kitchen table at home has become a seed nursery and dinner is now on trays. The Dahlias that we have overwintered in the garden with a good covering of fern mulch to protect against the worst of the winter weather and frozen soil, are still covered up, but we can see the new foliage peeping through.
There have been rumours, given we had such a mild winter, that we have seen the last frost until October. Whilst it has been very cold still at night, and I know we are only half way through April, I made the executive decision this week to remove the mulch and expose our treasures to the elements. Half our Dahlia stock was dug up last October, divided, potted up and left in the shed. These too are showing new growth, so we have had a week of popping them back in their final growing positions. Digging some up in the winter is a great opportunity to plant them somewhere else each year for a change. A bit like moving the furniture!
Mother goose had already done some of the job for us as we caught her on her clutch of eggs in the corner of our garden. A great surprise for all of us, as we haven’t had geese here before.