April – sowing and awaiting new plants

I want to say I am grateful.

My garden is coming along.


Things are quite a lot later than last year, as the winter 2013 had been incredibly mild. At the moment, the little Sun Disc daffs are just opening, as are the new tulips (Queen of the Night and Spring Green), last year’s Parrot tulips and the previous year’s Angeliques. A little pot of creeping phlox perched on the rusty old bike makes a welcome pink note echoing the darker pink of the Saxifrage planted last Autumn.



The Alpines are doing fine – it looks like the Edelweiss are going to come back.

I got rid of the enormous old hebe which was alive only at the surface (though it was my favourite things when we movend in, it didn’t age too well) and made some space for other little things.



Annuals. I have sown white cosmos outside and in a seeding tray (which I knocked down yesterday – a colourful episode of swearing ensued). I know I haven’t got enough place for a decent display of cosmos, but I just can’t give them up. To me, white cosmos are the flowers of poetry, pure and simple, a sign of perfection and transcendance, yet modestly yielding under the breeze).

I have sown Ladybird poppies, because one also needs true red, and Flemish Antique poppies, because one needs sophistication.

poppy 'Ladybird'


The other monstruous poppy (the oriental one) bought in Sainsbury’s, which wasn’t what was promised on the label, and therefore ended up uprooted and thrown away, has come back.


If a plant fights dearly for its life and its place in my garden, I will give it a chance. Those fighters remind me of the biblical stories illustrating God’s mercy (I like imagining Him surprised at the insistence, the stubbornness of weak, helpless creatures to whom desire sometimes gives strength above their station) and resilience is one of the qualities I so admire in plants.

Today, I have ordered at Parker’s (I know, my experience with them has been mixed but they have many plants to order and I don’t have a lot of money):

– Euphorbia Characias Tasmanian Tiger to replace my Euphorbia myrsinites (not enough place for this prostrate creeping sea monster, though I like him very much). I found Tasmanian Tiger’s pictures extremely striking (the following photos are from Parker’s website).

– Geranium Black Beauty for the contrast offered by its dark leaves

– Fuchsia Hawkshead which I have coveted for a few years – how not to love this bush sparkling with white fairy tears ?

– Iris Sibirica Butter and Sugar.

On irises. I have had Iris Dutch Blue Magic for a few years, and it’s not improving. I didn’t know anything about plants when I bought it, and wasn’t even aware that there were many types of irises. I have since discovered that the bearded irises are the ones I desire, and have ordered a plant two years ago ; it’s going to flower for the first time.


My kind neighbours also offered me some purple bearded irises last year as they were digging theirs up in order to build a new drive, but no sign of flowers yet. Meanwhile, I have learned about Siberian irises and, like the cosmos, they seem to resonate with my heart in a silent, vibrant and deep way. Their lance-like leaves, their beautiful but modest manner (not as showy and grand as the bearded irises), the fact they grow near streams and lakes, that something wild about them, which evokes space and the song of the wind in reeds. I don’t know whether they will like my Kentish garden, which might be too dry for them. Try and see. I went for the Butter and Sugar yellow because it is my son’s favourite colour, although my mind pictures Siberian flags as intensely blue or purple.

I am glad I have a lot of lupins this year – finally, after some years of varying success. And delphiniums (am trying to get some really blue ones). And one of the alliums Schubertii has a bud.


And I am most excitedly waiting for the Neptune’s Gold eryngium to grow and flower.


My desire for eryngiums is different from my quiet love for cosmos and Siberian irises – it is rather a fiery, possessive thirst, which in French I would describe as sanguine. I have tried with eryngiums before, in vain. This one IS going to live, or else…

And what about the paeonies ? This year, I have several buds on both of them. Finally !



Oh, and I moved the fullmoon maple. Yes, I did. Last week, as it was (and still is) preparing to leaf out. I dug it out, rather brutally, cut two enormous roots it had sent in the direction of the hated ivy, and plonked it in a pot. I did that. To my most treasured tree. I hope I don’t live to regret it. Why such a careless move ? I suddenly had the urge to move the big Osakazuki maple in its spot. And I was right, I mean, moving that tree by 70 cm made a big difference to the whole bed – made it work. Now its graceful branches dance over the hellebores, the astilbe, the lupins, the alliums, I don’t know, and tie everything together. Spring, bring it on.


P.S. I write about gardening, as if it really mattered… Tragedy struck in a beloved friend’s life, a little boy died. My Spring flowers, and the care dispensed on them : a wordless prayer for healing, some love carried on the wind.

Success with the Cosmos.


How time flies. Son is now going to school, which mainly consists for the moment in playing with Legos / trains / puzzles / cars. Daughter is bossing everybody around, even without using any recognisable words. I try not to imagine what it will be when she is older, as I already feel totally defeated.

I look at the holiday pictures, the peaks, the glaciers, the sky, and I wonder how it is that people can live far from mountains, just like I do presently. It’s not just their beauty. It’s the awe, the wonder, the power of revelation – that feeling that you wake to realise what your nature is, glorious and insignificant at the same time. How your heart swells with peace and strength.





When I came back, instead of following my habit of walking around in my house looking for reasons to feel miserable (why is the house disgusting, etc), I just ran out into the garden. And this is what struck me first :





I know I have been going on about how much I love cosmos and Sakura and Ino, etc. But this is far better than I hoped (and, to be honest, a little too big – the peony is now buried under this forest and doesn’t get any sun…). My father-in-law says he has never seen cosmos as tall as these. It is official, I have green fingers (nobody needs to know my father-in-law improved the soil considerably last Autumn with manure and all that). And, on top of that, these flowers are covered in bees. Que demande le peuple?

Well le peuple wanted more stuff. So I got some big pots for the Japanese maples which will need repotting soon, plus some Alpine plants (Aeonium, Delosperma and Ajuga) and lots of Spring bulbs : snowdrops because husband gets emotional about them, tulips which will go in a container this year (no more totally silly-looking salad in the middle of the flower bed for weeks on end), and different sorts of alliums (I have fallen in love with them – not only do they look spectacular, they don’t seem to tempt snails and slugs, alleluia) and hyacinths (again, for my husband). Oh, and more snake-head fritillaries, because I absolutely love them.

Walking in the high-street the other day, feeling nostalgic for the mountains, I came across a stall where people from L’Arche sold plants. There they were, the sempervivum that I wanted to bring back from the Alps so much. Being impatient, I just got two trays and planted them directly into my clay soil without adding grit or sand. So we’ll see if any survives. I think they will. After all, this is Kent, not Lancashire, so why not. Will post pictures of the new plants when the sun deigns to show his face around here.

Apart from that, covered myseld in manure the other day and no, two 60L bags are nowhere near enough, even for a very small garden with only 3 flower beds and a tiny border (if you follow the advice to put a layer of at least 5 cm on your soil). Well I’ve learned something this week !

Bye little garden

I am leaving soon for a holiday with my family in France. I don’t know if I will manage to steal some time for this blog. Some flowers I have been eagerly awaiting will show up in my absence. It doesn’t really matter – my husband can enjoy them and take some pictures. Living things have to go their path and follow their own rhythm. I am grateful for what my first gardening spring and summer brought me.

Auntie Shelagh’s miniature-rose-turned-big had so many flowers it couldn’t stand their weight. It was a bit as if the flowers’ stems had stayed adapted to a miniature plant, while the leaves and the flowers had gone wild. My Dad managed to keep them upright for a while using some complicated wire and stake composition. The colours were just beautiful.


Little dianthus doing well. Why aren’t they more fashionable ? They are so pretty. Too easy for the advanced gardener ?


One of the delphiniums. Not what I expected, but white, which is good, and as glorious as a victory against snails and slugs !


I have lots and lots of Anémones de Caen, and I am just in awe of the blue ones.


The first blue cornflowers. They are the sign and the heart of summer (waves of poppies and cornflowers in the fields of beautiful old France).


It turns out Sainsbury’s yellow lilies were truly yellow (phew ! At least my son wasn’t betrayed this time, unlike then). And magnificent as well !



The Clifford’s Stingray hosta is now showing off – not only are the flowers impressive, they also seem to attract bees quite a lot !


The fifty pence climbing rose bought in Poundland in the end had to be declared dead (mentioned here), but the hypericum purchased in the same shop at the same price has done quite well. The jewel-like flowers are small and I have no idea if this hypericum is going to be an upright bush or a groundcover kind of thing. Qui vivra verra. But is this Poundland plant going to live ?


Finally, my first cosmos flowers ! Simple flowers close to my heart.



And, last but not least, proof that this garden deserves to be loved. Here is the Spirit of the place (talked about him here), under the ceanothus. He lives there, usually hidden under the dense groundcover provided by the Anémones de Caen. French, essentially ! 😉



See you !