Category Archives: Flowers

June roses

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June is the time for roses. Rosa ‘Compassion’ is a winner for colour, scent and it tolerates shade. That makes it a good choice to cover a fence or wall.

Beauty in buds

A classic clematis – Clematis montana ‘Tetrarose’ will bring colour and scent in early summer. But in bud – it brings a totally different sense of beauty.

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Signs of spring

When the first tiny Narcissus open their buds, we know that Spring is on the way. I’ve chosen Crocus tommasinianus to accompany them – they are equally early and dainty. Two colours that work perfectly together and signal sunshine on the way.





Rose beds in winter

20150303_120427 (3)It came up in conversation that rose beds are not interesting in winter. But have you not heard of bulbs?  They make the perfect underplanting for roses, because they appear when the roses are asleep and disappear again when the roses are getting ready to bloom. We should thank the brilliant garden designers at Capel Manor for this picture – they have placed clumps of blue Crocus and Iris reticulata  throughout the rose garden so there is colour throughout the borders during February and March.

And of course – everything is in bloom in summer..


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The question of stems for winter colour


Cornus are the choice for winter colour – and there are varieties of cornus with red, orange, green and purple stems. I found these at the Clockhouse Nursery: Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ and Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ . Where to put them in the garden though? Bare stems don’t work very well against a wall or a fence. They show best against evergreens or against the sky,  and the best place of all is a position where they can be reflected in water.


Spectacular colour – small space


In Autumn we tend to we run out of flowers and foliage takes centre stage. Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ makes a spectacular autumn feature for a small space. Here it shines in the October sun at Capel Manor, making a startling contrast against the greenery behind. We love this for a small garden, because it’s a graceful tree with interesting foliage and the canopy won’t block too much light. That means you can use the space below for different plants that will provide colour earlier in the year.

A foliage feature

While this blog is mostly about colour and scent in the garden, we love foliage as well for elegant contrasts of texture and colour. Anemanthele lessonia is the new name for Stipa arundinacea or Pheasant’s tail grass, a tidy, clumping grass with pretty stripes of orange throughout the summer, which will turn to gold as Autumn approaches.


As summer flowers finish and make space for the shrubs and grasses, it’s shapes that catch the eye – so placing spikey grasses amongst tidy domes of glossy shrubs is simple and just spectacular.  The nice thing about Pheasant Grass is that it looks good whatever the colour of the shrub it sits next to.





Big landscapes, bold features


The Saarphati Park in Amsterdam is like an English park in the sense that it follows the principle of Landscape Design.  Within the park there are footpaths and streams, lawns and lakes and landmark features. In our first picture, you glimpse the classical temple, just out of view in the distance, right.  A short walk further, and you see the feature close to.



Perennials work well in drifts – and the more the better. Rudbeckia fulgida var. Sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ are so bold, they don’t need a contrasting colour to make them shine. They just stand there, in their thousands, as if to say “Hello, we’re here to make you smile”.


High summer, hot colour


It’s a hot and hazy day, and whizzing past the Essex cornfields, basking in glorious afternoon sun, we zoomed in on Hyde Hall where there is plenty for the eye to see, and plenty to keep the bees busy..

Contrasting colours make the most impact – and never more so than when the sun is shining.  Massed Agapanthus with Helenium and Allium make a stunning combination. At Hyde Hall,  they are stunning on a large scale. These are complimentary colours to make the heart sing.  Pale ultramarine blue and the brilliantly brassy oranges are direct opposites in the colour wheel, and the dull purple alliums just add a touch more depth. We discovered the name of the – little egg-shaped ones: Allium sphaerocephalan. This kind of planting draws the eye (or the bee) from a distance, and gets even better close up.


Hyde Hall’s plantings perfectly reflect the wide landscapes of the South Essex prairies. It’s a dry garden, exposed to the sun and wind, with very little shade. The designers who laid out the garden are expert at mass plantings that fill the space with shape and colour, and move in the breeze. Just feel the warm dry air and warmth in this picture – a great memory of summer.


Almost like a “painted” garden – here we are looking at Gaura lindheimeri,  which provides the effect of pink and white lace, with Verbena bonariensis, and beyond them the soft mauve spires of Perovskia and a bold clump of golden grass, which is maybe Oryzopsis miliacae, with just a smattering of Verbascum, gone over, so we won’t know which variety.  Truly, garden texture has never been better than this. This is a huge island bed which works beautifully from all angles – the combination and layering of plants changes as you walk around the border.

Surely this must be the prettiest car park in Essex. It’s filled with Gaura lindheimeri, Stipa tenuissima and friendly Verbena bonariensis.