Sunlight Attack II

Experimental picture taken looking up into a rose

The last few days, we’ve had enough rain to kickstart the process of re-greening the North of England’s meadows, and I started to feel a little celebration of sunshine might not go amiss. Isn’t that the way it always is?

My first is a decidedly strange (for me) shot of roses growing overhead – so high, they ruled out the little dead-heading needed for a conventional shot. At the time I took it, I was half-imagining some form of caption in the top left: a concise one like Dog Days or Wine & Roses. As the end result captures more of their spirit than I expected, I’m leaving it alone. For now.  Continue reading

Rudbeckia Summerina ‘Orange’: Garden Plant Plus Prairie Native Equals A Heavenly Daisy

A flower cluster

A plant with bold colours and daisy-style flowers effortlessly commanded my attention in the marquee at the recent Tatton Park Flower Show. Several plant nurseries had chosen to feature it prominently on their display and this is not a plant to hide its light under a bushel. Identified as Rudbeckia Summerina ‘Orange’, it’s a relatively new hybrid and one to watch. If it seems deeply familiar, that’s perhaps because both of its parents, Rudbeckia and Echinacea, are so widely grown.  Continue reading

Heleniums at Bluebell Cottage Gardens

Orange and yellow daisy flowers

We’d been meaning to visit Bluebell Cottage for a while and weren’t disappointed. There were some signs of flowers going to seed earlier than usual due to the long hot and dry spell, but the overall effect was glorious and the pollinators were having a field day – literally. I can hardly believe I managed to take this picture of the garden without a butterfly or bee in the foreground (there is a blurry bee a few rows back).  Continue reading

My Top Twelve Picks from the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

  1. Award-winning fruit (and veggies)
Basket of cherries, gooseberries and currants

Andrew Baggaley’s first prize winning basket of cherries, gooseberries and currants

2. Bees for Manchester

3. The Young Designer Competition

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the competition, five finalists have been invited to create gardens rather than the usual three. This is always one of my favourite parts of RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.

Calm in Chaos Garden was designed by Max Harriman to be like a woodland trail

Continue reading

Flowers From The Farm: Locally Grown and Eco-Friendly

Roses, mallows, sweet peas, and antirrhinums with foliage

The topic of flower miles is one of the secrets in the closet of the cut flower industry. I travel a good few miles myself so can’t be too judgemental. It’s easier to grow big blousy roses in cool mountains, near to the equator where the days and nights don’t vary in length that much during the year – places like Kenya and Colombia. The supply chains that bring the roses from overseas farms to our homes are longer and more complicated than most people would think.

I remember watching a flower auction in Japan – most flowers we buy in Europe come through a similar auction hub in Holland. If you know how much care, thought and anxiety go into producing flowers in any part of the world, it’s chastening to see them reduced to commodities.

Boxed up flowers are opened briefly on stage and shown to assembled buyers in a room laid out like a lecture theatre. Models trying not to wilt after a long distance flight without water would seem a good analogy, but the flowers had better not be wilting at this point as they have many more miles to travel. Buyers hold their nerves as the price ticks down like a clock. The quicker they press, the more they’ll pay per box. If someone else snaps them up first, it’s game over.

White mallow flowers

You might have noticed by now that some of the flowers illustrated simply can’t be transported that way. They have been grown by Flowers From The Farm’s members for their display at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. The society promotes British grown flowers that don’t accrue air miles, being sold as locally as possible.  Continue reading

Rosa ‘Scepter’d Isle’ at Bodnant Garden

Pink rose with chalice shaped blooms

Rosa ‘Scepter’d Isle’ caught my eye during our visit to Bodnant Garden in Wales this week. The garden opens until 8 o’clock in the evening some Wednesdays during the summer (please check details online before visiting) so we could arrive fashionably late and still enjoy a (very) warm evening stroll.

We had planned to go a week or so earlier – given the choice, I prefer to catch the roses slightly before their peak when they are at their freshest, before the garden has time to need dead-heading. Winds gusting at 35-40mph put paid to that idea. Although the rose garden was a touch further on, it was still looking lovely, with rambling roses in flower on the many pergolas.   Continue reading