2020 is The Year Of The Hydrangea – Hurray!

Hillside of hydrangeas at Holehird Gardens
Part of the National Collection of Hydrangeas at Holehird Gardens

When I posted yesterday’s picture, I hadn’t realised how on-trend I was. In celebration of this being the Year of the Hydrangea, I want to show the difference between mophead and lacecap hydrangeas.

While mopheads and lacecaps are much the same in growth, habit and overall impression, their flowers have different forms. For most of us, this is a matter of style rather than of botany, as we’re not likely to try to grow hydrangeas from seed.   Continue reading “2020 is The Year Of The Hydrangea – Hurray!”

Cothay Manor’s Courtyard Garden

Topiary, tree fern and summer flowers in Cothay Manor's courtyard garden
Flowers spilled from a stone planter in the courtyard

One of the nicest things about blogging is the ability to share a peek into a magical place. I’d not be surprised to hear that even some of the people who have visited Cothay Manor have left without experiencing the courtyard garden. I happened upon it as if by mistake on my second or third circuit of the garden. It seemed such an intimate space that I asked the lady quietly gardening there whether visitors were welcome.

Path through topiary, rock stack, seating to Cothay Manor
Accessories included pieces of stone balanced on a wooden pillar

She assured me I was welcome and we talked a little about roses. The walls of the manor are clothed with roses and other vines, including Rosa mutabilis trained as a magnificent climber which I had not seen done before. We’d missed seeing most of the roses in full flower, but there was plenty more to admire. Continue reading “Cothay Manor’s Courtyard Garden”

Arley Hall’s Double Herbaceous Borders In Their Summer Glory

Arley Hall's double herbaceous borders in full bloom
View of the double borders in summer with The Alcove (left) and the entrance (right)

The grand sweep of the double herbaceous borders at Arley Hall Gardens has been delighting gardeners for about two centuries: this is one of the oldest examples of its type to be seen anywhere in the world. Exuberant summer perennials fill long, parallel borders, the garden’s brick wall and formal topiary hedging providing a traditional backdrop.

When you first walk in through the huge, decorative gates in summer and turn to see the flower borders stretching out before you, behind you, to either side, it’s hard to know where to look first. Continue reading “Arley Hall’s Double Herbaceous Borders In Their Summer Glory”

Great Companion Plants For a Cottage Garden: Geraniums

This post about hardy geraniums, popularly called cranesbills, (not the pelargoniums) is the second in my series on companion plants.

Blue hydrangea with geranium companion plant
Blue hydrangea with a geranium companion

What are companion plants?

Companion plants complement the showy ornamentals society loves – roses, peonies, delphiniums and hollyhocks – filling in the gaps in the flower border and helping it flow. They’re pretty enough on their own terms and happy to mingle in, above or below other plants. Good neighbours, they will not compete too aggressively for food, water or space.

Their presence encourages a healthier ecosystem by attracting beneficial insects which is why companion plants are often recommended for kitchen gardens. To find out more about what makes a plant a good companion, check out the first post in the series, on astrantias. Continue reading “Great Companion Plants For a Cottage Garden: Geraniums”