Spring into Summer in my Garden

“Flowers always make people feel better,
happier, and more helpful;
they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

Luther Burbank

“Flowers are the essence of the world”

The Last Gardener of Aleppo

Here is an excerpt from the beautiful musical expression of The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, evoking the signs and sounds of Summer:

 

RosesFrontDoor

When I think of paradise, it starts with my garden. When I think of my garden, I feel like a tree with its roots down in the soil. In an age of rampant technology and commercial development, we do need to create a personal relationship with the Earth by planting a garden. I followed the Roman maxim: ‘One who plants a garden, plants happiness.’

WhiteRosesFrontDoor

The pink climbing rose over the front door is Aloha, created in the Forties. It flowers from spring to autumn and is stunning. The white rambler rose growing next to ivy, is also beautiful, and the white flowers look so well overlapped with Aloha’s deep pink.

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The famous rose Peace, a climber, was created in 1945 in celebration of the end of World War II, and mine is growing and climbing by the back door, next to the conservatory. It is a remarkable rose, cream with pink edging, and it flowers profusely from spring until the first frost. If winter is mild, it may flower at Christmas. It is one of the first roses to flower and it is the most popular rose in the world.

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Our relationship with nature is eroding rapidly as increasing pollution is causing a rise in levels of asthma, depression, and anxiety. Trees help to stop the build-up of CO2 by removing it from the air and storing it as wood. Tropical rainforests were able to act as ‘lungs the of the world’ but now less and less so because they are losing their ability to absorb greenhouse gas as rising temperatures are killing trees. According to recent research, within 15 years, the Amazon rainforest will start producing more carbon dioxide than it sucks in from the atmosphere. Scientists had predicted that rainforests would eventually stop storing CO2 and start releasing it, as dead trees release greenhouse gas when they decompose, posing a big concern for the future of humanity.

The new findings are worse than the most pessimistic predictions and suggest the process will begin decades earlier than forecast. This is why I write with such passion about planting trees in all gardens, even the smallest. Yet some of my neighbours have cut down mature apple trees, while others have uprooted large bushes. If we all linked our gardens by planting as many trees as possible, we would have healthier towns and clear air. There is an admirable initiative going on in the UK to plant thousands of trees and getting everybody involved.

I draw strength from the peace, tranquillity and clean, fragrant air that is my garden.  It is also a safe haven for many birds and other wildlife. When we moved here, there was just a space in the front and at the back. It meant that I could create a garden that would be an oasis of many plants, mostly evergreen, and as many trees as it was possible to fit in. As I could not expand the garden, I had to go up and raise the level of the whole garden by at least a metre, and in some places by two metres. This allowed me to plant trees, and as many plants as I wanted because having legroom everything would flourish. The colour was created by using three main species: roses, hydrangeas and clematis.

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 Hydrangeas are very generous in their insistence on flowering for months until the first frost. They come in many colours; from pink, red, blue to purple and white.

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One of the most versatile plants you could wish for the garden is clematis; it climbs, twines, spreads across the whole side of the house or the garden wall. When flowering it provides a spectacular display of colour.  I have one in the front garden, over the wooden arch, that is flowering scented cream bells in late autumn and winter. 

ClematisCloseup

The whole length of the garden on one side has a brick wall, and the rest are six-foot wooden fences. In the front, the sun comes from the east, and by eleven o’clock moves towards the back which is south facing.

At the very back border of the garden, I have planted a row of conifers. Conifers have a bad press, but this is irrational as planted in the right place and for the right reason, they are an asset. Mine are tall but not dangerous as I have raised the soil level and the roots are firmly in; also they ‘link arms’ and support each other. Their lower branches were removed in what is known as Japanese cut, to allow light and the sunset to flood the garden in the late afternoon. The conifers give the garden a feeling of seclusion, and in winter protect the house and the plants from the cold, wind and ice. They are needed to keep the air clean as trees always do, and despite the house being approx 90 yards from a heavily polluted High Street, the air here is clean and fragrant because there are flowering plants in the garden in each season. The ground around the trees has many large ferns growing with a hedgehog house hidden within.

HedgehogGarden

The conifers are also providing a safe, nesting place for the birds and a drey of our resident squirrel.

BabyBird

I am also a defender of much-maligned ivy. The ivy that covers the entire length of the wall in the front is beautifully golden-green all year round and brings colour even on the dullest of days. It flowers in autumn when other pollen is gone and bumblebees and other insects love it. For us, the flowers exude a strong scent that is very attractive. 

CroppedFlowers

Vigella4

At the back of the garden next to the Stumpery, there is a wooden arch that I built when foxes damaged the eucalyptus tree, and sadly it had to be cut down. I have used part of the trunk to make the arch, and I have planted by its side a Harkness spectacular climber, Seagull. It flowers and cascades in all directions over the arch, and is sparring for admiration with the huge heads (football-size) of Annabel,  a white hydrangea, growing nearby.

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WhiteBriarRoses4

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Further along the back, there is an Edwardian style set of two armchairs and a table, and close by grows a climber Edna Harkness, a deep red colour rose. This is the best place to sit with a cool drink and relax in the tranquillity of the garden. Another similar place is a seat by the pond, secluded and surrounded by the many flowers, including roses and heavenly scented violet phloxes.

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I have fed the birds for the past three decades. I provide for the robin special seeds (without oats), and fat with dry mealworms ‘candles’. I feed the birds ALL year-round, especially at fledgling season. This is the time and in the winter when they really need all the help they can get.  A pond, however, small will be a great attraction to insects and frogs. When I first built one, as the water was poured in, I could see two frogs hurrying from different directions to take over their new acquisition. A plaque above the pond says: ‘The Kingdom Of Beautiful Frogs’.

 

plums

PinkRhodo

There are quite a few fruit trees in the garden that I have grown from tiny saplings, and they now produce kilograms of fruits; apples, pears, cherries and plums.  I have also some blueberries, raspberries, red currants and gooseberries. By feeding the birds I have their binding undertaking that they will help to keep the garden free from aphids. 

RedRoses

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My determination to keep and preserve my garden, as it is, came from watching with horror the new owners of the houses around me cutting down beautiful apple trees, uprooting and throwing away masses of beautiful plants, because they have no time or patience to do any gardening. They don’t obviously understand that if everybody were to plant a few, even dwarf, trees, and many shrubs, our street air would be cleaner and we all would be much healthier. As I have no power to persuade others, at least I am making sure that my oasis of green and colourful plants, and the wildlife in my garden are safe.

RosesAbove

Another well-known method of creating an interesting picture in my garden is to plant roses beside apple trees. Again, this year the roses are all over the branches and the deep pink of the blooms ‘beautifies’ the green of the apple tree.  Another apple tree is ‘decorated’ with the large, lilac flowers of a rhododendron that was planted in a large tub (as I have alkaline soil ) by the side the tree. It grew taller and taller until now it is more than halfway through the canopy of the tree, and it looks spectacular.

PinkFlowers

Early flowering bushes like Skimmia Japonica, Ferris, Weigela, and others,  have already provided fine dining to all the insects in the garden, including some butterflies.

There is a great need to plant many plants that are attractive to honey bees, bumblebees, butterflies and other pollinating insects as our town and cities are expanding at an alarming rate. We are now building on our green countryside, the fastest rate in 25 years, and planners are busy filling up the previously protected spaces between the towns, with new towns. No doubt once built it will be much easier for the developers to expand in every direction. In the meantime, our honey bees population is dwindling. Councils everywhere are cutting down huge numbers of trees (110,000 in 3 years) to save money on their maintenance, oblivious to the fact that the absence of trees – the lungs of the Earth – makes pollution, which kills humans and children in particular, rise to an unacceptable level. There are still many gardens that are not wildlife-friendly, and yet it is easy to turn any garden, even tiny, into an oasis for birds, insects, hedgehogs and frogs. Many newspapers and gardening programmes offer detailed advice on what to plant. Although I am just an amateur gardener, I am passionate about nature, and I will include in my blog all the plants that are loved by my army of wildlife garden helpers, in full Technicolor for those not as yet convinced.

One plant that is often misunderstood is ivy. The conviction among many people, even gardeners, is that nothing will thrive close to ivy, and roses, in particular, will perish, their root smothered by the ‘rampant’ ivy. As always, what is needed to solve the problem is ‘know-how’. Apart from the fact that ivy is extremely attractive all year round as an evergreen, and it will brighten every dull and dark winter’s day with its golden-green, lush foliage, it is also invaluable to both birds and insects. It offers safe nesting places for small birds, and flowers (highly scented) late in the year providing food for the larger birds and nectar for the insects. The solution to growing many plants, including roses, next to walls covered with ivy is simple: leg room for all the plants. My brick wall is covered with a thick layer of ivy, but in front of it I built a metre-high bed, in length 10 metres. The bed has all the plants that I wanted to include: Japanese laurel (two), Weigela (two), three very large climbing roses, three hydrangeas, two pyracantha and a collection of trailing plants that are cascading down the edge of the bed. I have included the pictures of white roses and Weigela as hydrangeas are still in bud. The scent of roses and pyracantha is intoxicating not only to scores of honey bees and bumblebees but also to me and my visitors. All I can say is long live the wonderful, beautiful ivy.

Another tip well-known to seasoned gardeners is to plant in overlapping groups of plants. Starting in the winter months with hellebore and evergreen, scented, winter flowering clematis, then following with early spring-flowering plants like Skimmia Japonica Ferris, then tulips and daffodils, rhododendrons, and roses galore in the early summer. From June onwards, hydrangeas and later roses and buddleia will provide colour and food for insects. Depending on the size of the garden, if possible, it is good to have a few fruit trees, when in bloom always appreciated by bees. These can be a dwarf variety, which means they won’t grow over two metres. Low-level plants should include flowering herbs like rosemary, sage, fennel and chives, and daisies, valerian and tall, perennial lobelia. Cow parsley adds frothiness to the display. I should add that when in flower, pyracantha branches look like scented candyfloss.  Sowing masses of nasturtium, either trailing from the high edge of the beds, or anywhere where there is a bit of soil, will result in a fantastic hot-colour display for several months (Monet garden). I have to also mention the dreaded by many, namely – wasps. I have never been stung by them, but in late summer I feed them sugar syrup in a saucer, and they recognise me as friend. They repay me by eating aphids which is greatly appreciated, as my garden is wholly organic.

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I will be updating the news from my wildlife garden during the upcoming months, also with many pictures of flowers and fruit but in the meantime, remember:

Speaking of beautiful flowers, I cannot conclude without mentioning the gardens created for the Chelsea Flower Show in London, the quintessential event of the summer:

81 thoughts on “Spring into Summer in my Garden

  1. Beautiful clicks dear Joanna. ❤️❤️
    A good treat to my eyes!! I dream to live amidst of a garden like this. ❤️❤️ Can you sometime post a video of your garden if possible?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Flowers have positive energies!😊

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Beautiful post..
    Thanks for sharing..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Flowers are beautiful indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dearest Joanna,
    Hope you’re back home❤️. What a lovely feast for eyes, so many beautiful clicks, heaven is all around these beautiful flowers. The wide range your garden has, and that hedgehog and his house hidden behind the fern tree❤️. Rose plants with all historical dates and times, such details, this post is pure bliss❤️.
    Richa

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Dearest Richa, Thank you so much. Still, in rehab, dreaming of home, hope to go soon. Here, is still night.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you very much, I wish I have recorded it, I might later.

    Joanna

    Like

  8. Beautiful pics and quotes Joanna. Hope all is well with you 😊🌹

    Master, Paramahansa Yogananda, was very close to Luther Barbank and there is a whole chapter on him in The Autobiography of a Yogi 😊

    May you keep enjoying all the seasons of life.

    Love

    Ashok

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You’ve beautifully maintained your garden. Those pics are so beautiful.
    I too got an opportunity to make the best of my small garden, while in the lockdow. And I felt peace and happiness while spending some time wandering and sitting their.
    As I can see now, that my Damask rose are saying hello to me 🙂 Haha

    Hope you are having your time, Joanna.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you so much, glad that you have created your garden. You created happiness. Plants do communicate. when you look after
    them.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Yes they do talks when they Efflorescence. 🙂

    Like

  12. I could imagine the whole garden with the detailed explanation you provided and the beautiful images made me want to visit it!!❤️ And you are right, climate change and global warming is no joke, immediate measures are required.
    Last but not the least.. I hope you are safe and recovering. Best wishes.❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Wow! Beautiful heavenly flowers!! The musical expression of the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi is mesmerising. You have a very sophisticated sense of art. Keep going. Thank you, Joanna for making the day. All the best !!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank you, KK, I am trying very hard, I so wish to go home, Vivaldi is an obvious choice. I was taken onceover by four fiddlers playing in London’s street.
    Thank you.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you, Khushi, maybe one day you can.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thank you again, Ritish.

    Joanna

    Like

  17. That must have been a great experience, I can only imagine. Thank you!!

    Like

  18. You’re welcome!!

    Like

  19. Dear Joanna, hoping this message finds you in good health.
    This is such a lovely post about flowers.. I adore all the pictures, so many different colors and stunning visuals of your garden!! I was completely mesmerized. You live in a paradise! May it always be that way❤️🙏💐🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you, Diana, you can find your paradise anywhere, as long as you are with the right person.
    But thank you.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Joanna, this is a lovely post. What a green thumb you have! We are having more and more plants & trees put in around our house, but much of it by landscapers, who arrange for our irrigation system to water them all, as I cannot seem to keep anything alive on my own. (There’s a reason God didn’t give me children.) Thank you for sharing all this beauty as well as the much-needed info on how the loss of trees may begin affecting us adversely sooner than later. 🌞

    Like

  22. What a passion you have for all living things; it is obvious from this one post! I hope you will soon return home to your garden, your little piece of heaven. You must be missing it.
    Today I took part in a charity walk with a friend, he did 15 miles and I joined him for the last 5 miles. It’s my longest walk in 2 years; recovery has been slow, it would have been quicker if I’d had a garden like yours 😊💝💖🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you, Lisa, for your. generous comments. As I wrote before when we destroy Earth. it would be too late to then realise that we cannot eat money.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thank you, Ashley, I envy you, I do want to go home but I am still stuck here!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Your garden is so beautiful. All your efforts have paid off. I loved the pictures! You’re right – we should start increasing the green cover. We’ve neglected it and damaged it for far too long!

    Like

  26. Thank you, Shweta, I hope to go back there soon, I hope to help to plant many trees in India.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  27. The garden is one of the best places to be..in my opinion… So peaceful, tranquil and a home for animals too… I love to hang out in mine too. Your photos are awesome, thank you for sharing. It’s like a peep into your world. So special. 🍀💐🌹💞

    Like

  28. Thank you, But you have the weather on your side.
    You are very kind.

    Joanna

    Like

  29. I hope you are successful in your endeavour! The world need more greenery.

    Like

  30. I really enjoyed reading more about your garden. ‘One who plants a garden, plants happiness’ – these are very wise words. I agree that it’s important to have a connection with nature, it can be so beneficial to ourselves and our panet. Those rose Peaches were breath-takingly beautiful ❤ I’ve always wanted to grow fruit trees in our back garden as well because I like the idea of being able to eat fruit fresh from the plant. It is a real shame that your neighbours cut down their trees and plants.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. What a beautiful garden. I could sit and read there for hours.

    Like

  32. Thank you, Jacqui, that is what I do,

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you, Simone, it is great pleasure to eat fruits from the bush, no need to wash them because all are organic.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thank you, Simone, again.

    Joanna

    Like

  35. I love that you’ve written about the importance of greener spaces for our health and the need to focus on working together rather than separately to achieve something that’s better for all of us. It’s such an important topic! Recently what’s been bugging me is how wealthier neighbourhoods have so much more green space and though green spaces are a human right, we often find that deprived neigbbourhoods have so little and on top of that they are also near sewage treatment plants, waste disposal sites, toxic factories…and it’s environmental racism essentially. It’s so so important that we give everyone access to more green and start prioritising better and revolting against those who are trying to deprive us.
    Also, lovely photos Joanna:)

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Thank you, Gannu, we do agree on the importance of people joining efforts, I wonder which country are you writing from? I live in England.
    Thank you,

    Joanna

    Like

  37. Extremely lovely photos throughout! Wow, I’m really impressed by how amazing this all looks. And I love this: “One who plants a garden, plants happiness.’” Such a nice thought. And how you describe ivy, that was really quite interesting to me. For the most part I never hear anyone say good things about Ivy. Its nice to see the opposite opinion. Sometimes the opposite viewpoint is still the right or even righter one. Thanks for sharing this one! Your posts always delight and teach. That’s a truly amazing combination!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you, Benjamin, as always you are very generous and kind. I needed today your comments as I had a difficult day, but feel better now. Thank you.

    Joanna

    Like

  39. I’m also from England:)

    Like

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