Celebrating The Southport Flower Show’s 90th Birthday

Southport Flower Show Poster from 1929

Southport Flower Show poster from 1929

Remember the days when the Town Hall was the place to go if you wanted ‘further particulars’ about an event? How life has changed since then! At this year’s Southport Flower Show, we had no horse leaping events, but we did have heritage animals, courtesy of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, including a pig that was more rare than a giant panda (and much the same size).

The cultivars may have changed over the last 90 years, but gladioli like those shown on the 1929 poster were on display in 2019, together with just about every August flowering plant you could hope for.

Perfect pink Japanese anemone flower with gold stamens

A serenely beautiful Japanese anemone

Amongst so many choice plants, this solitary, perfect, innocent-looking, pink Japanese anemone caught my eye. Continue reading

Garden Art: Flowerpot Men

Flowerpot men in the kitchen garden at RHS Rosemoor

If you’ve got a pile of spare plant pots, why not follow RHS Garden Rosemoor’s example and turn them into flowerpot men? I’m not convinced they’re lifelike enough to scare the birds away from the crops in their kitchen garden, but they made me smile.

1 in 10 Garden by Charlie Hartigan

Flowers in the 1 in 10 Garden at Tatton Park Flower Show

I always look forward to seeing the finalists in the annual Young Designer competition at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. This is a detail of Charlie Hartigan’s 1 in 10 garden, voted the People’s Choice for the Best Large Garden. I loved the colour combination and the abundance of traditional cottage garden plants in a contemporary space.   Continue reading

Blue Flowers

Blue poppies at RHS Harlow Carr Garden

Blue poppies

Regular readers will know of my fascination with blue poppies (meconopsis). My timing has been out and I’ve only seen the odd one or two this year so here’s a picture from Harlow Carr last year.

Blue delphiniums in the Jungle Fever Garden, Tatton Park Flower Show

Blue delphiniums

Sightings of delphiniums are always very welcome too, be they stocky little spires or towering ones. The lovely folk word ‘bee’ describes the petals at centre of each floret. The stocky delphiniums above have white bees and the ones below, lavender-blue ones.

Tall blue delphiniums at RHS Garden Rosemoor

Tall blue delphiniums at RHS Garden Rosemoor

This year hasn’t been a flower dearth – far from it. Rosemoor provided me with as many flowers as I could hope for, even setting aside the roses I shared a fortnight ago. and even though my capacity to hope for flowers is huge. Continue reading

Campanula takesimana ‘Elizabeth’

Campanula takesimana 'Elizabeth' at a flower show

This is an outtake from yesterday’s Chalky Pastel Flowers post. Not because it forgot its words or slipped on something, I hasten to add – I decided that it didn’t help my contention. It was too maroon.

Although the band and thin stripes decorating these scalloped bells would have qualified as chalky, and the flowers do pale to a lovely antique pink as they age, there’s more to this story. The ribbed buds, the debonaire green flower ‘caps’, the purple stems and tinges on the foliage, the long bell shape with its parabolic edge… if somebody told me one of these flowers had won a Nobel Prize for something and asked me to guess which one, I’d have no hesitation in pointing to the campanula. Continue reading

White and Chalky Pastel Flower Palette from the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Alcea rosea 'The Bride' - white double hollyhock

Alcea rosea ‘The Bride’

It’s just my personal taste, but while white flowers such as this double hollyhock entrance me, I’m rarely convinced by white borders. I take in the overall effect, think “Ooh! A classic white border. Perhaps it will be better at its peak?”, then move on.

This year’s Tatton Park Flower Show gave me an insight into what twist a white border might have that would truly inspire me: chalky pastels.

Rosa 'Kew Gardens'

Rosa ‘Kew Gardens’

Imagine this recipe: take pure white flowers, sully the mix with flowers that have creamy, ivory or white backgrounds decorated with streaks or blotches of pink, peach, yellow, lavender and green, then add a good helping of pure, pale pastel flowers. Use colours as soft as you dare to create a dreamy effect – I’m thinking of Edinburgh rock colours.

Lilium 'Colosseum'

Lilium ‘Colosseum’

Continue reading

Blue Iris With A Fake Beard

Blue irises

A type of flower that may have beards, falls, flounces, horns, laminata, standards, signals and ruffles has to be accorded respect. Having said that, some of you might observe this ‘ordinary’ blue iris is lacking some of the twiddly bits its fancier bearded cousins can proudly display.

You might agree with me that the sunlight dancing on its upper petals and its clear, veined beelines left little to be desired: that the simple iris need not aspire to anything more. Continue reading

Highlights of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019

RHS floral logo with Chatsworth House in the background

RHS green floral letters

The grounds of Chatsworth House make a wonderful setting for the youngest of the major UK flower shows. I hope you’ll find something of interest in my personal picks from the show.

1. Seasonal Cut Flowers

Freddie’s Flowers had packed a breathtaking array of seasonal cut flowers in shades of lavender, cream and pink in the back of a truck to advertise their bouquet by post service. Continue reading

The Dorothy Clive Garden in Laburnum Arch Season

Metal arch supporting racemes of yellow laburnum flowers

I am usually drawn back to my favourite gardens at least once each year, timing my visit when they are at, or around, their peak of flowering. That can be a challenge. Seasons vary. Enlightened gardens work hard to make sure there is always something to tempt visitors during their open season, which makes ‘their peak’ relative, depending on which flower combinations delight you most.

I’m inclined to blame the tulips and spring bulbs for beguiling me in the past. Whether or not their rainbow glory can truly be faulted, I’ve always missed seeing the Dorothy Clive’s laburnum arch in full flower by just a few weeks or so (mere days in 2015). This year, as you see, I’ve been more fortunate. Continue reading

Yellow Lady Banks’ Rose (Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’)

Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' in bloom against a wall at Kiftsgate

An old Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ at Kiftsgate Court Gardens with woody lower bark

When you see this rose in flower, Lady Banks’ Rose may fall easier to your lips than its botanical name, Rosa banksiae. There are several versions available (see the Q & A below), but my favourite is the double yellow form, ‘Lutea’, pictured here.

…it only flowers for about a month, but what a month!
– HOUZZ

Arching stems of Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' - the yellow Lady Banks' Rose

Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ is almost thornless with trailing growth

From a distance, a flowering Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ is like a pale yellow throw rug; up close, the flowers are small rosettes, held in graceful sprays. If not firmly tied up, the foliage seems to drip on long stems from the plant, creating a distinctive look. Continue reading