Back in Dorset and it's pouring after a few beautiful days. But rather a relief as I returned with another vanload of plants which were looking rather exhausted but today all are happy as could be, even unplanted. I'm toying with the idea of another large vehicle full of plants to come down from the Herefordshire gardens as there is just so much in the field still. It is quite interesting seeing what is going to beat the weeds as no one is tending the plants now. I was picking centaurea, aquilegia, alchemilla, nepeta, penstemon and lysimachia rocket foliage, solomon's, astrantias, trollius, ranunculus and the utterly gorgeous little R Flore pleno, a darling little bloom, tiny, white, double, delicate and arching. Also peonies, brunnera, campanula, nectorascordum, sage, stachys byzantina, libertia, artemisias, bistort, sweet rocket.......the list could go on and on and there is just so much to come! And thousands of scillas still in the top gardens and huge patches of Solomon's, now fully established and thriving, and euphorbias large and small. It was actually rather hard to leave and I felt awfully profligate leaving so much behind. I think I may have to go back very soon.
People thought I was nuts putting in so much alchemilla as a whole long crop in one strip of the field, but the year before last we picked almost 100 buckets full for June and July weddings, this year one could probably get at least 200 buckets full. When grown like that it is tall, long and strong stemmed and utterly superb. I like it best at this early stage before it goes very frothy when I think it just becomes rather a lazy cliche.
Another thing that is lovely in those gardens now is the Sorbus Joseph Rock, gorgeous pinkish white berries in absolute profusion. It looks as though everything is going to fruit heavily this year, so much blossom everywhere. Iris sibirica don't look so good though, probably just overcrowded after six years in the same place without division.
It is very strange leaving a garden that I have loved so much and put so much energy into. The cottage gardens is looking really quite lovely now, yes it is going wild and there is quite a lot of couch creeping in but it doesn't really affect the look as the garden is so full. Clumps of white and pink love lies bleeding seem to have trebled in size, nectaroscordum are colonising different areas, Anthriscus Ravenswing is appearing all over the place, brunneras have completely lined one bed, and euphorbias flowering in huge clumps. There seem to be a lot of different scabious appearing where they fancy, self sown seedlings from a lovely dark mauve knautia I originally got from Charis Stockton at Abbeydore, and I think other seedlings from the large yellow one and probably also from the little dark K macedonica. I didn't bring any back, but may yet do so! Astrantias are doing well, and campanula Anna Loddon has clumped up hugely in the top garden and the field. I'm too late to move any of my lilies (I forgot about them earlier on) but it looks as though it's going to be a good year.
So the garden here felt very bare in comparison when I got back. A day later, when the comparison is not so fresh in my mind it feels a lot better. And it will fill out in time, with a whole different palette as well as some of the same. I'm particularly looking forward to my long line of agapanthus under shrub roses as aggies didn't do so well at Hay. Roses are beginning to flower here, not just the R lutea which covers the east wall of the house, but white shrub roses that I don't know the name of (how I wish I'd listened!), dark red shrub roses ditto and all the main season ones are budding up well. The tree peonies are fabulous, there's a bright yellow one but also two deep deep red trees, completely covered in flowers. And I've counted at least 15 clematis at various stages. And the iris are beginning...So it's not all bad.
But I can't believe I carefully moved several good clumps of self seeded poppies as I had such beautiful colour combinations in the field, and each clump seems to be dark red. None of those delicious double frilly white and pink numbers, or the delectable mauve and white. Just red. I have sown lots more though, so let's hope there will be some lovely colour combinations as I do love their delicacy.
On the annual front cornflowers are about to flower here, dill is doing well, ammi is nearly there and nigella is bursting. And there are rows and rows of germinated seedlings of all sorts of others. I think it's going to be OK!