Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth

Though York is a lovely town to wander around, there are also some wonderful gardens not too far away. A few years ago we went to Breezy Knees, a plant nursery with acres of beautiful - mainly herbaceous - planting round about it. We went back there this time. I did think that most of the best blooms would be over at this time of year but actually there was still lots of colour, such as this wonderful splash of sedum and phlox above.

Herbaceous perennials (which die down every year and then come again the next) are my favourites and though much of my own garden is planted up with these, they're always better in a big space (which I do not have). All gardening books tell you to plant herbaceous plants in drifts - usually of five plants - but alas, this requires huge beds and large vistas.

Look at this: a whole area planted up almost entirely of penstemons of different shades of pink, red and purple with - entirely counter-intuitively (or at least counter my intuition) - some yellow or orange montbretias. I don't like orange and never have orange flowers in my garden - it's the only colour I ban - and wouldn't normally think that yellow would go with pink. But somehow this all looked stunning. It's a bit like patchwork, I'm beginning to see: you don't have to like all the bits of material individually to enjoy the way they combine into a whole.

And I deeply coveted these dahlias. My one dahlia got entirely consumed by slugs or snails this year. I wonder if the gardeners here take stern measures against the slimy pests, or is it just that there are so many flowers that the beasts can't keep up?

Another day we went to Harlow Carr, the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Harrogate. The actual site here is more dramatic than that of Breezy Knees, which is more or less flat. Harlow Carr sweeps down from the road into a valley and then up again into woodland. This time it was more obvious that some of the more spectacular plants had flowered earlier in the season but it was still wonderful.

I loved the colour of these cone flowers, which I've twice tried to grow and never managed to persuade to come back after the winter. I must try again.

Lovely sweeps of planting.

And here's what seems to be this year's very pretty fashion, the wildflower meadow. I hope the wildlife likes it, apart, of course, from the slugs and snails.

Oh, how I love gardens. Soothing, healing, cheering. Lots of hard work, of course but in these cases it was all done by someone else.


  1. Oh , me too ( love gardens! )2 beauties there.

  2. It's always nice to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labours! What a wonderful name for a nursery - "Breezy knees", must remember that.

  3. Beautiful photos but how could you miss with such wonderful material...Your post title is one of my favourite quotes. Also love the song "In an English Country Garden" which this brought to mind.

  4. I love your comparison of colors in flowers to that of prints in quilts. It's all so true. I often find a print that I really don't like is just the perfect fit for a quilt. I'm not a big fan of yellow (daffodils being an exception) and orange in the garden either, but, like you said, when paired with other colors, they're beautiful.

    And I'm so surprised that coneflowers don't make it through your winter. Do you suppose they need a good hard freeze or something? My patch grows bigger every year -- although, I will say, I don't think the blooms are as pretty as when they were newer flowers. It's like they're smaller, a bit more shriveled. Sort of like us as we age LOL!

  5. A blissful post, thank you.

  6. Gorgeously colourful gardens and, sadly, nothing like the one here. I did try with the wildflowers and planted a whole packet of seeds, to be rewarded with one measly little plant that I didn't even recognise.