Garden Journal 14.6.21

As we moved through May, “when will those tulips finally go over?!” Was never far from my mind. The tulips gave great value I have to say, but hung on just long enough to cause an awkward jam in the glasshouse, cold frame, standing out areas – we don’t have an awful lot of useable space in our nursery yet.

Still, the time finally came when I could start calling in the larger containers in order to clear out the bulbs and their fading foliage, to refresh compost, and to begin planting for the summer season. Plugs, self-sown specimens, over-wintered tender plants and tubers were all assembled and have waited patiently for their opportunity to stretch their roots deep into some fresh compost – peat free of course!

Bright red flowered annual plants being potted into a large terracotta container in June, at Sulgrave Manor.
Out with the old, in with the new!

At this stage of the game all of the main terracotta containers are planted, the faux lead cubes and a few baskets and ironwork troughs; their predecessor bulbs laid out around the nursery to dry – gone but certainly not forgotten.

How the summer containers will perform remains to be seen, but with a few reliable classics such as Salvia, Petunia, Bidens and Verbena; we should have a comfortable display. Beyond these standards though, in a bid to stand out a little, I have some tuberous Begonias and Nasturtiums, some Tradescantia, Cannas and even some Colocasia – although the latter seem painfully slow to make an appearance!

Whatever happens, I’ll definitely share the results both here and on social media, warts and all as they say!

On the Home Front


Gardening at home continues to be at a calm and sedate pace, for reasons mentioned in my last post. I have though tackled the repotting of some topiary and a standard olive shrub recently that was long overdue.

Getting physical with Olive…

Now I have dabbled, but I’m not really one for ‘how-to’ videos at the moment, and there seems to be a lot of folks out there doing a very good job of that already. I do though have a personal challenge to become more comfortable in front of the camera and so for the olive shrub, I set up the camera and ended up with a two minute ‘highlights’ video for my efforts. Think less ‘Gardeners’ World’ and more ‘odd bloke in his back garden potting a plant’ kind of style – the link if you wish to watch me work is at the bottom of this post. (Monty Don has nothing to worry about!) 😂

Out and About


Last week I enjoyed a lovely stroll around the near-ish Canons Ashby garden, which is just across the hills from my work’s garden of Sulgrave Manor actually. It was one of those warm days when a slow pace was called for, which allowed good time for some plant focussing between moments in the shade or, as fully intended; in the tea room.

As fortune would have it I bumped into an old friend of a plant that I haven’t grown for twelve years or more now; Geranium madarense. It was quite peculiar for, having not seen it for years, one of my volunteers had brought in a few seedling plants for the collection at Sulgrave; and so to bump into a mature specimen growing happily at Canons was a real treat.

Having returned home I was quick to look up the information relating to the plant, and was surprised to learn that its common name was Giant Herb Robert, at which point I connected the volunteer’s mention of it seeding around with that of its smaller relative Herb Robert, whose spreading exploits are very well know!

A close-up image of a pink flower against foliage from the host plant Geranium madarense, commonly known as giant herb Robert
Giant herb Robert, or Madeira cranesbill
The choice is yours! 😉

I wasn’t deterred though as the giant form has all the beauty of the smaller version but is bigger, and possibly even better depending on your viewpoint. In any case, depending on who I’m with when I introduce our newly planted Sulgrave specimens, I might even refer to its other common name of Madeira cranesbill, which sounds a good deal more exotic!

Observations – a garden, plant or seasonal perspective

In a week’s time we shall hit the longest day of the year; the Summer Solstice. Yes we’re nearly there already! Which means of course that from next Monday, just when we’ve become accustomed to long and useful evenings; we’ll actually have reached the peak from which a steady view down towards autumn can be seen.

Allium’s time to shine!

It’s all very strange when I stop to think about it, that just as things seem to be getting going, I’m writing that the end is nigh! It is though one long continuous cycle as we all know, and from my own gardening perspective the shortening of days gives real hope that gradually over the weeks ahead, the frantic pace of growth will slow and we shall be able, soon, to take the foot off the gas a little.

I never feel sad at the prospect of days getting shorter, but reassured that the planets are indeed still working together. I feel heartened that both plants that are growing their hearts out right now, and my fellow gardeners who are wilting in the heat, aching under the workload and desperate for a rest; might indeed get their chance once the days shorten and the pace slows.

I look forward to the Summer Solstice, always, and I’m hoping to be out in my garden with a glass to raise a toast. Let’s hope it’s a good night for it!

Until next time, many thanks for stopping by 😊 If you’ve enjoyed my journal I’d be really grateful if you could like it, engage with me through comments or recommend through sharing.

Links: Repotting an Olive Shrub

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