Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hidcote Manor Garden II

Since the beginning of the new year, I catch myself getting somewhat antsy thinking about our next vacation. Now that is a little bit early since we are most likely not be able to go anywhere before June but I can already dream and the joy of anticipation is a nice thing to have.

I would love if we would be able to visit England and its beautiful gardens again. To fuel my dreams and maybe yours as well I thought I would continue to write about Hidcote Manor Garden. We saw this garden in June last year and I did already one blog entry about it.

This time I will focus on a part of the garden called the Long Borders, which is a rather colorful exuberantly planted part of the garden containing many old French rose varieties.

But before we go there I would like to tour some of the exclusively "green parts" of the garden. There are areas which comprise precisely clipped trees and hedges, vast open spaces with long vistas, and magnificent mature trees to admire, which Hidcote is also famous for.

This is a partial view of the Stilt Garden, which is said to be inspired by Lawrance Johnston's, the creator of Hidcote, many trips to France. Maybe he enjoyed playing a game of Boules here. These rows of neatly pruned trees (are they hornbeams?) certainly make for an impressively long vista.

Notice the beautiful wrought iron gate at the end of the vista. It provides the perfect focal point for the tree alley. I realized that Johnston made extensive use of elaborate wrought iron gates in his garden which contribute a lot to its beauty.

The tree in the background, which I believe is a Cedar of Lebanon, was impressive, to say the least. Towering like a king over his empire it is located in an area simply called the Great Lawn. My husband is posing in the photo to give you an idea of its size. Hidden under the low branches of that tree to the left there is a gate, which is a  little hard to see, through which we entered later into the Beech Allee.

But first a photo of the Great Lawn. This space is humongous. You can see parts of the Cedar of Lebanon to the left.

Here we are back to the entrance of the Beech Allee. There is another lovely wrought iron gate at the end of the allee leading into to the open space of the surrounding countryside. 

Looking in one direction of the Beech Allee...

...and in the other. It is hard to describe the emotions wandering around under these very tall and magnificent trees. I couldn't help but feeling in awe of nature and getting a sense of that the human ego isn't the most important thing in the world.

Passing by the kitchen garden we walked towards the famous Long Borders. Unfortunately, I photographed against the sun but still decided to include this shot in the post because this scene of majestic old yew pillars together with the wisterias grown as standards is so beautiful that I wanted you to see it as well.

Simply love the old gnarly wisteria trees.

View of the Long Borders.

The tall yew pillars give this border a wonderful structure year round no matter what is the season. As I said in the introduction to this post, Johnston planted many old and rare varieties of French roses in this part of the garden. As a rose lover I was particularly excited to see those, but got disappointed because even though we visited the garden in June, there were only very few in bloom.

It was fascinating and a great tribute to the skillfulness of the gardener, who designed this border that even though the roses weren't blooming much you didn't miss them. The border was planted so densely with other flowers and contained plants with great foliage and texture that they could hold their own. I wonder besides the yew pillars and the roses if it was still Lawrence Johnston's original design.

I was impressed by this silver leafed thistle-like plant. The combination with the alliums is so pretty.

Oriental poppies are another favorite of mine. 

The lupines did so well in this border. I wonder if white lupines would grow in my own garden in San Diego, but I am almost certain that they are very water thirsty plants.

Close-up of the lupines. Aren't they pretty?

And a close-up of the salmon colored oriental poppy. The dark stamens are fascinating.

By the way, Lawrence Johnston created the Long Borders between the 1930s and 1940s. It was the last area of the garden to be planted. Prior to that, it was an old orchard and a few of the original apple trees can be found to this day.

Even though the red lupines shown above were pretty these more subdued pink ones are more to my taste. I love them together with the blue delicate flowering plants in the background.

Looking back towards the Long Borders. Obviously, I wasn't the only one who couldn't stop taking photos. I had preferred to take the last shot of this incredibly beautiful area of the garden without people in it, but I was lucky that there weren't more in the picture since the garden was very well visited. I believe it gives you still an idea of the beauty of this border.

As always, I hope you enjoyed touring this famous English garden with me. I have taken many more photos of Hidcote and there will be further installments of this fabulous garden in the future on my blog. If you want to see part one, please click on the link below:

Hidcote Manor Garden I

Wishing you all a beautiful rest of the weekend!

See you in the garden!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

December Roses

All the rain that we were having here in Southern California in December brought the roses back to live after more than five years of severe drought and many were blooming beautifully again. Hence I would like to resume my habit to show you which roses have been flowering in my garden in the last month. I have to say, though, that there were more roses flowering, I just chose the ones of which I got a good photo for this post. So here they come!

I am really happy with this picture of rosa 'Auckland Metro'. I shot it while venturing outside between rain showers. The bloom is drenched in natural rain drops. I feel somehow the roses can withstand natural rain better than irrigation water. It might have to do with all the chemicals that are put in the drinking water nowadays.

Here is a bud of 'Auckland Metro'.

And another rain shot.

'Grandmother's Hat' showing a lovely, saturated, pink color in the cooler weather that we finally had in December.

The buds of rosa 'Bewitched' are particular elongated and always very elegant.

The fact that rosa 'Iceberg' is very common and easy to grow in California, doesn't diminish the beauty of 'Iceberg' in my eyes.

Another shot of 'Iceberg'.

I like how the sun back-lits the flowers of 'Iceberg' in this photo.

Certainly one of my most unusual roses is 'Nimbus'. The mauve color of this rose has a very brownish tint, which makes it quite special.

What do you think? Isn't the subtle coloration of 'Nimbus' to die for? 

The noble rosa 'Pope John Paul II'. One of my all time favorites!

Fully open flower of 'Pope John Paul II'. A little bit tattered by the rain. White roses always seem to be the most vulnerable to the exposure of water on their petals.

The Tea Rose, 'Georgetown Tea' was especially floriferous last month. 

Close-up of a bloom of 'Georgetown Tea'.

Another image of the bush of  'Georgetown Tea'.

Rosa 'Moonstone' lovely, huge flowers on a very sickly bush.

Small spray of rosa 'Piere de Ronsard'.

The same spray later with one fully open bloom. 

One rose that was absolutely outstanding last month is 'Belinda's Dream'.

I am so in love with the pale pink, perfectly formed, big blooms of this rose.

Above is a bush shot of 'Belinda's Dream'. The winter flush was almost as prolific as you would expect it to be in spring.

Some more images of 'Belinda's Dream', just because this rose is so incredible beautiful and I wanted to show you the different facets of it.

I hope seeing the photos of my December roses brought a bit of joy to you, my dear readers, but especially to those, who are suffering from a cold winter. I know how harsh the winter can be from my many years of living in Berlin, Germany, and really feel for you!

See you in the garden!

Warm regards,


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Notes From the Garden

It feels like I haven't blogged about my own garden for ages. So I thought why not start the new year with a post about just that?

This nice big hole was staring at me for quite a while until I found time in December to finally plant something into it.

The rose to the left is rosa 'Belinda's Dream' a gorgeous light pink rose and the ground cover to the right is a white flowering campanula.

I had intended to plant a blue flowering iris in between those two plants because I thought these colors would go well together. The problem is, though, that the irises that I grew from rhizomes and planted first in containers so that they could develop a decent root ball before they go into the ground have all lost their labels. Did something like this ever happen to you? But I remember that all irises had colors in the blue and lavender range, so if the one that I have planted doesn't turn out to be blue, it still will most likely fit in color-wise with the existing plants.

This poor iris got really neglected, but...

...after it was cleaned up it didn't look so bad anymore. The root ball is certainly nicely developed, just as I intended. I hope it is strong enough to fend for itself growing in palm root competition.

Freshly planted in the dark, rich soil it feels almost as if the plant is giving a sigh of relief, being released from the pot and able to stretch its roots.

If you step further away, the plant looks rather small, though. It is obvious that it has quite some growing to do. Go little iris, go!

The ones of you who are following my blog regularly, know that I love roses and you will hardly find a post about my own garden in which not a rose is sneaked in one way or the other. And this post is no exception.

I am very excited about this little rose. Its name is 'Gruss an Aachen', an older Floribunda, bred 1909. I got this rose as an own root rose in the beginning of last year and it didn't have a good start and I thought a couple of times I would loose it. But then somehow it came around and this is its first fully developed bloom. The shot above was taken in the early diffuse morning light.

This image was taken later in the early morning sunlight. I love to observe how the roses are changing colors depending on the light conditions.

Here is a full bush picture. The rose is still small, growing in a two-gallon container, but by now I am fairly confident that I won't loose it anymore and that it will grow into the lovely plant that it is meant to be. 

I kept track with my camera of the opening of the bloom. I am very fond of the fully petaled rosette flower form with the teasing light salmon-pink center.

The last photo shows the completely open bloom. Isn't this a beauty? Rosa 'Gruss an Aachen' is known for its color variations and I am curious to see what this rose will come up with in my garden in the future.

Last year I planted some Leucojum vernum, 'Spring Snowflakes' as a substitute for snowdrops, very late in the season and the bulbs never bloomed and as a matter of fact, not all bulbs bothered to show even up. This year though this cluster of five bulbs looks very good and I have high hopes that I will get some blooms.

Another exciting thing to report about: My first self-seedling of a hardy geranium. I have only two varieties of hardy geraniums in the garden: 'Biokovo' and 'Rozanne', so this one is most likely a child of these. The plant looks pretty strong and the leaves are relatively tall. Now the really interesting question is, what will the blooms look like? Can't wait to see them.  

In the front yard, I pruned this Pygmy Date Palm hard, I almost feel that I mutilated it a little bit. The reason is that its fronds constantly block the walkway to the house and it can be quite annoying when you permanently run into palm fronds when you try to get to your front door. Hard pruned or mutilated, in any case, the palm will grow back quickly and will rectify any pruning that is overdone.

These two containers at the base of the palm are white flowering lantana, the label says: 'Trailing White 1', even though I couldn't really find a white lantana variety with that exact name in a quick internet search. I only found 'Trailing White', so that is probably what it is.

Anyway, lantanas are supposed to be very drought tolerant and are flowering a long time, so I thought I will try them out. These two will most likely not have an easy life growing at the foot of this palm, but if they survive, I think they will make a nice pair with the blue flowering penstemon that is already established.

Lantana is supposed to be very pollinator friendly which is another plus in my eyes.

The pure white flowers are rather small, but they come in masses so that they have quite a visual impact.

This is one of my 'Verbena Bonariesis' plants. I started the winter clean up in the front yard already and cut it back to about a few inches above the ground, but I am unhappy with the look. So I would like to turn to you other active gardeners and ask if I can cut it completely back to the ground. I am relatively new to this plant and I have never cut it back before. I certainly don't want to kill it by cutting it back to hard.

This is actually one of my disappointments this winter. Do you know what this is? These are Paperwhite Narcissus. What is wrong with them you ask? They all came up blind, meaning none of them carried any flowers, only leaves appeared. I don't know what the cause is, but I assume the competition with the palm roots in my front yard didn't leave them with enough energy to produce blooms. Any thoughts of you, my fellow gardeners, what I can to do still get them to flower, or at least next year?

On this photo, you see my small side bed on the right side of the front yard. There is nothing very impressive to notice on the first glance, but you have to know that both roses are relatively new and they have grown tremendously. To the left side is rosa 'Charles Darwin' and to the right is rosa 'Cymbaline'. I am really expecting great things from them this spring. 

We are back to the back yard and looking at the South facing fence. You may notice the big hole in the middle. There was once a rosa 'Baronne Prevost' growing, but I always had problems with this rose. It was suffering severely from powdery mildew and never really did anything. If it flowered at all the blooms stayed small and were just very few.

So this winter I finally had enough and decided to take it out. The location is not ideal but I will try to plant another rose there, that hopefully, that will fare better.

By the way, to the left side of the hole, you see rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard', which has become a real monster. I would love to have another big healthy rose joining it and beautifying the fence that I share with my neighbor.

It may sound odd to you, but big holes in my garden are always giving me great joy. It is the joy of anticipation, of good things to come. For this hole, I am contemplating to plant  a second rosa 'Charles Darwin', which has been completely healthy in my garden so far or to go with rosa 'Mary Rose'. The latter has shown some powdery mildew infection this year, so maybe I stay clear of that one.

To end with something more exciting for you (hopefully) then a photo of an empty big hole I leave you with an image of rosa 'Heritage'. It is hard to believe, but the rose is still producing these amazing flowers.  Did I say I love roses? Maybe you share this love with me, too. 

Hope the new year is off to a good start for you!

See you in the garden!

Warm regards,