… and so I didn’t lose any time. As I was up in rural Warwickshire celebrating my husband’s uncle’s golden anniversary, I was kindly taken by my mother-in-law to visit Canons Ashby, a beautiful National Trust house, which was home to the Dryden family. The church is, thanks to Henry VIII’s unfulfilled matrimonial expectations, all there is left of the medieval priory run for four hundred years by Augustinian canons.

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The most striking feature in the grounds was, on the day I visited, magnificent summer perennial borders, with dahlias as the stars of the show.

I didn’t use to be a fan of dahlias, but have recently become partial to those amongst them which display light-coloured flowers (if possible single) set upon dark foliage. Is it acquired tolerance, as they seem to have become fashionable and ubiquitous ? Possibly, but I have always been attracted to the beauty of a foliage at least as much as to that of interesting flowers. In any garden, as in woodland, the tapestry created by contrasting leaves and structures (in colours, shapes, textures and ways to catch the light and the wind) is what I find most striking and memorable.

Leaving the formal beds near the house, we went down the slope to admire the vegetable terraces. Behold these whopping pumpkins :

Alas, near the shop and therefore unmissable, there were the stalls full of lovely as-if-just-for-me plants : a trap cunningly set for weak souls of my kind. Resistance was useless, there was no point wasting any energy pretending : I would go away with as much as I could carry. That is, not so much : my ambitions were limited by the cruel reality of having to travel back to Canterbury by train – my husband was already in charge of our two suitcases and I wouldn’t trust my children with fragile living things (too heavy for them anyway). So this is what I picked :

Tricyrtis formosana Pink Freckles, a shade loving plant answering to the evocative common name of Toad Lily.

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Geranium pratense Black and White Army

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and Heuchera Berry Smoothie

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Why such impatience ? Why not wait for a trip to the garden centre, instead of burdening myself on a train journey ?

Well, the first reason could be that there is no garden centre in Canterbury itself, and that I don’t drive. Secondly, the Toad Lily has been on my list for some time (unusual, beautiful, mysteriously reminding of witchcraft and adapted to a shady garden, though mine may be on the dry side for its taste). I have tried it before and failed. Also on my list, a dark-leaved geranium : Dark Beauty, which I had purchased just before leaving England, hasn’t survived, so there we go again. Regarding the pink heuchera with the ridiculous name, it was my eight-year-old son’s choice. My hope is that it will echo the reddening leaves of Acer palmatum Osakazuki as the season progresses, and provide some sort of consolation for the death of Acer palmatum Shaina.

I should confess that a short walk in town last week saw me creep into Poundland and come out with Coreopsis Early Sunrise and a Veronica gentianoides… Not to mention a number of other beauties ordered online today, which I will show you when they arrive. After all, my birthday is only one month away (and a bit more, but let’s not be overscrupulous). 🙂

I leave you with these pictures of a sparkling spider city (taken in Canons Ashby).


8 thoughts on “New plants from Canons Ashby

  1. Entre les étonnants (miraculeux, monstrueux ?) dahlias aux fleurs jaune et orange sur feuilles noires et la spectrale ville étagée des araignées, j’ai l’impression d’être déjà à Halloween, ma fête préférée 🙂
    Les teintes de l’heuchère et le géranium me touchent. De nouveau un côté sorcier.
    Merci pour foliage, mot oublié qui allie si joliment folie et feuillage. Minaudier juge la grammaire de l’anglais très pauvre mais qu’elle compense par une magnifique richesse de vocabulaire (apparemment c’est le plus souvent l’un ou l’autre, richesse de la grammaire ou du vocabulaire). Ce que je suis bavarde ce matin !

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    1. Tu as raison pour Halloween. Je me souviens d’une promenade nocturne lors de mon premier séjour à Canterbury. Nous rentrions à l’appartement qu’occupait mon mari sur la colline. Il avait plu. Sur les trottoirs, pléthore de limaces, d’escargots. Devant la porte de la maison attendait un crapaud, magnifique. C’est vraiment le pays d’Halloween. Et oui, le vocabulaire de l’anglais est immense et extrêmement riche pour les sensations. La grammaire peut être dite pauvre – la conjugaison par exemple – mais quelle souplesse ! C’est comme leur absence de Code Civil : marge de manœuvre, oreille tendue à l’expérience vivante, sinuosité.

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  2. En vous lisant, me sont revenus ces mots ” Toutes les fleurs se ruent vers nous en nous léguant de leur vivant leur couleur et leur innocence. Les contempler mène à la vie parfaite.” Si ma mémoire est bonne, ces lignes sont de Christian Bobin 🙂

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  3. Three of my favourites… (What does it say about me/ my taste that I LOVE Heuchera Berry Smoothie? 🙂 – works very well together with Heuchera Midnight Rose, by the way!

    As for burdening yourself with plants on a train ride… This April I went to the Gardens Illustrated Festival in Westonbirt, mostly for the talks. What I hadn’t bargained for was the number of stalls with rare plants, gems you just don’t ever see for sale in even good nurseries. I ended up making my way home with a small suitcase and six bags full of plants: while congratulating myself at the fair for being so “restrained” (I could have bought A LOT more…) I cursed myself on the way back: taxi, train, change of train, then across London on public transport… Still, made it home with plants intact and guess in the end it was worth it :-).

    Oh, and if you want to part with even more money and can get someone to drive you back – this is my favourite garden centre within reach: http://www.coolings.co.uk/gardener-garden-centre Have avoided it for some time now: easier than resisting temptation! You are thus warned…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you pique my curiosity ! Rare plants ? I probably have never heard of any of them, but if you gave me a few names, I could google them (what does it say about me that I LOVE spending my life googling plants names ?). 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting !


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