wordless wednesday: dahlias ‘rosamunde’ and ‘summertime’

dahlia rosamunde, dahlia summertime, cottage garden, gardening blog


in the night garden

Much as I love gardening with my daughter in tow, the time I catch out there after she’s in bed on summer evenings is very precious.

sunflower vanilla ice, night garden, cottage garden, gardening blog

sunflower: vanilla ice

If I’m lucky, I get an hour or so of weeding, deadheading, watering or whatever jobs need doing. Totally uninterrupted.

rudbekia, night garden, cottage garden, gardening blog


The garden takes on a whole new personality in the half-light.

dahlia summertime, night garden, gardening blog, cottage garden

dahlia: summertime

Some flowers seem disembodied from their plants – beacons to passing moths.

dahlia swan lake, night garden, cottage garden, gardening blog

dahlia: swan lake

The borders are less defined; everything is a bit blurred about the edges.

hosta francee, night garden, cottage garden, gardening blog

hosta: francee

But it has its own quiet beauty.

anemone wild swan, night garden, gardening blog, cottage garden

anemone: wild swan

This week M asked me what ‘blissful’ means.  I think pottering in the garden with the bats is as close as you can get.

rudbekia, night garden, cottage garden, gardening blog

Tonight I tried to capture it on film. These pics were taken around 9pm, just before the garden descended into darkness.

gaura lindheimeri, night garden, cottage garden, gardening blog

gaura lindheimeri

wordless wednesday: rosa ‘wollerton old hall’

Rosa Wollerton Old Hall, cottage garden, gardening blog

all aflutter

A couple of days ago we took part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count.

small tortoiseshell on verbena rigida, cottage garden, gardening blog

small tortoiseshell on verbena rigida

You spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot, count how many butterflies you see, and submit your sightings online.

I knew the buddleia outside the kitchen would be teeming with nectar-lovers desperate for a late afternoon fix. But I couldn’t face spending quarter of an hour breathing its sickly scent. Instead, I set my almost-four-year-old up with her identification sheet between two borders stuffed with rudbeckia, dahlias, gaura lindheimeri and verbena.

green-veined white on verbena rigida, cottage garden, gardening blog

green-veined white on verbena rigida

Last year’s verbena bonariensis survived the winter and has come back as tall and willowy as ever. We’ve also grown verbena rigida for the first time. What it lacks in height (ours is about a foot tall) it makes up for with an intense, almost glowing purple haze of flowers. Both varieties are popular with butterflies. After watching closely for 15 minutes, you notice how they are repeatedly drawn to the same plants.

M thinks she counted 23, but there was a bit of doubling up as she’d count them twice if they fluttered off and back again. The true total (I think) was 10: 1 green-veined white, 1 peacock, 1 painted lady, 2 commas and 5 small tortoiseshells.

peacock butterfly on dahlia, cottage garden, gardening blog

peacock butterfly on dahlia

Her enthusiasm, and the fact that she completed the full 15 minutes without flitting off herself, made me think M might be ready to have a go at raising a butterfly from a caterpillar. We’re probably too late this year, but perhaps we’ll try next summer.

Plugging the hungry-gap

It was good to take some time out to look at the garden. The dahlias and verbena have been in full swing for a couple of weeks now, and seem to have plenty of life in them yet. There are lots of other nectar-rich flowers around the place too: cleome, cosmos, eryngium and sedum are all blooming – or about to. We’ve managed to close the hungry-gap between early and late summer.

If you live in the UK and want to take part in the Big Butterfly Count, it’s running until Sunday (10th August). Find out more here: http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/ .

didiscus blue lace

At one time I had a hundred or so didiscus blue lace seedlings coming on in the greenhouse. It’s a half-hardy annual, so I chanced a winter sowing then did a second batch early spring.

didiscus blue lace buds, cottage garden, gardening blog

lots and lots of little buds on one plant

It’s the first time I’ve grown them, so when the winter-sown ones stopped growing soon after developing their first true leaves, I thought maybe they were waiting for the weather to warm up. But when it did, nothing happened.

Before long the second batch overtook them, so the early ones were consigned to the compost bin.

didiscus blue lace stem, cottage garden, gardening blog

graceful stems give the plant an airy feel

Unfortunately it seems wild rabbits are rather partial to didiscus. When the second batch were ready I planted a row out in the cutting garden; they disappeared overnight. I put most of the remaining young plants on a bench outside the greenhouse; slowly but surely they also vanished.

I learnt the hard way that rabbits can jump pretty high for a favourite food.

didiscus blue lace, cottage garden, gardening blog

the flowers are pale blue umbels – they smell sweet and are very attractive to bees and butterflies

In the end I had just one healthy plant left. Fearing for his safety I put him in a terracotta pot on the wall outside the back door.

He started flowering this week, and I think he’s quite lovely.

didiscus blue lace top, cottage garden, gardening blog