Time to slow down, time to reflect.
This is The Beauty of Islam garden by Kamelia Bin Zaal. Interestingly, when I saw it, although I was struck by its beauty, I was rather overwhelmed by the amount of white marble. I wanted more planting and less stone and yet, when I looked for something to represent the need for contemplation I am feeling right now, this picture was the one which did it for me. The cool, the white and the green, the clear water - I can feel my heart rate slowing as I look at it.
I might come back to a longer Chelsea blog. Much of it is still brewing. For now I want to stay home and take stock and think about the garden in particular and gardening in general. Let's start with a blast of colour after all that white.
In the corner of the side garden is a huge rhododendron inherited from the previous owners of the house. Every year I think that I don't really like rhododendrons. For eleven months of the year it is a large evergreen hump. It is far too big to get rid of easily but every year I wonder whether we should keep it and every year it erupts into flower in May and I forgive it everything. I know it is too huge, too blowsy, too pink (and I don't even like pink) and doesn't really fit with the gentle, wildish planting of the rest of the garden but for three weeks in May I really don't care. It fizzes with life and as it dies away alliums and hardy geraniums take over and the pink fades to blues and purples and a bit of lime green.
Some of the alliums are just starting in the sunnier bed. I would love them to multiply. A friend finds alliums popping up all over the place where she doesn't want them but we have just two places in the side garden where they seem to be happy in one of the beds. In the other bed they hang around for a year or two and then gently disappear. I think there are just too many thugs in that bed. I should dig it over and revamp it. I have been putting that off for a while but this year I found to my surprise that the oriental poppies which usually dominate almost half the bed in the early summer look as if they are going to fail. The plants are weak and sickly looking with no flower buds. I shall dig them up and burn them in case they have fallen prey to some disease and use the empty space as the spur to make some changes.
This is the acid green - euphorbia oblongata, a short lived perennial. I grow it in the cutting garden as it is a fabulous foil for almost anything and I am bringing it into the side garden as well since it is just as good a companion in the ground as it is in a vase. Purples and oranges look deep and saturated set against its zinging green.
The peonies in the kitchen garden are just coming out, about a week before those in the shadier side garden which are still great fat buds. These are the oldfashioned cottage garden type, officinalis. They thrive here.
I was very taken by the peonies on the Kelways stand at Chelsea, especially these white ones. Perhaps a white alongside my deep pink ones would be worth thinking about.
And out by the swing a rose which was a gift from our friends in Provence has come into flower. The flowers are simple but very beautiful and the foliage is small. It has thrown up three sprays of flower and I assume it will in time become a bush or shrub rose. It is a beautiful thing and I am on a mission to identify it so if you have any ideas please tell me! It must have come with a label and was clearly chosen with care for the conditions of our site and the style of our garden.
It is hard for a garden not be beautiful in May and it is lovely out there, despite the bindweed and the invading hogweed. Any tips for getting rid of hogweed? Its roots go down to Australia so I haven't done well with attempts to dig it out.
But perhaps the most beautiful thing in the garden right now is the apple tree in flower.
Nine feet high and twenty five feet across and covered in blossom of the palest pink, it is a sight to make the heart sing.