Lovely Lupins

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Lupin-laden flower bed. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The garden is full of colour at the moment, thanks largely to the abundance of Lupin bushes. We’ve had the right mix of rainy days and dry days to bring them to full flower, and they look magnificent. Tall and sturdy, the structured flower stems are made up of many delicate individual flower heads with a distinctly peppery aroma, Lupins are a delight to behold. The violet-blue Lupin bush above has a quirkiness to it, each year one solitary pink stem grows in amongst all the blue ones 🙂

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Up close on Lupins. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s not just me who’s enjoying the Lupins, the bees are all over them at the moment – just look at those pollen sacs!

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Lupin-lovin bees. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Lupins are the ultimate low-maintenance plant, and such great value. They will self-seed each year if you allow the seed heads to dry on the plant. I usually collect a few seed pods each year and pot up a few extra plants just in case I have a space in a border for a new plant – the pink one below is one of last year’s newbies. If you cut back the stems once the flowers have faded, you will get a second flourish of smaller flower stems later on in the season.

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Pink and white Lupin varieties. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The orange Lupin was planted last year, and I was intrigued to see whether it would grow back the same colour this year. I have found that Lupins often change colour in acidic soil just like Hydrangeas, and often revert back to the original violet-blue variety. The colour of this one is slightly more peachy this year, but still a lovely contrast to the other colours in the garden.

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The blue and the orange. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s it for this week. I’ll be back in the kitchen again soon. Until my next post, have a good few days and enjoy the sunshine when you have some 🙂

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Lupin-tastic. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

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In praise of peonies

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Fuschia-pink peonies in full bloom. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have all been enjoying some warm sunshine these past few days. The temperature has shot up in the UK and we have all been experiencing long, hot, summer days, and records have been broken every day this week.

I am away from home this week and I know that when I return at the weekend, the lush garden I left behind last Saturday will probably be looking less so. This week’s post is a look back at one of my favourite garden flowers, the peony, which I captured before I headed away.

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Sunlight through peony petals. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are 4 varieties of peony in the back garden. All have the delightful sweet fragrance that these blooms are renowned for, and to me, they are one of the quintessential old-fashioned blooms of  and established flower garden.

I hope you enjoy them 🙂

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Peonies and foxgloves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

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4 perfect peonies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

 

 

Blue June

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Blue and white Columbine (Aquilegia). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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It’s been quite a week in the garden. Long, warm days, plenty of sunshine, no rain, and everything is flourishing. As the spring colours fade and the bluebells diminish, the garden has come alive with all things blue.

Columbine (Aquilegia) grow very well in the garden and seed themselves each year. They are a great value flower, and fill in lots of the spaces in the borders and beds with their delicate broad-clover-like leaves and dainty ballerina-like flowers.  They are also flower for a long time.

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Hardy Geranium or Cranesbill. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Also long flowering are the geraniums which grow over the walls and trim the pathways round the garden. They love all the sunshine we’ve been having. The lupins are also doing well, and with no wind to blow them over (so far!) they are growing tall and straight and look truly magnificent.

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Blue-mauve Lupins. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Busy bee collecting pollen from a Meadow Cornflower (Centaurea). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are plenty of bees around in the garden which is a good sign. They seem to like lots of the flowers in the garden, but the Meadow Cornflowers are a particular favourite and the many clumps around the garden are alive with activity from lots of buzzing wee winged creatures.

Last spring I planted a couple of Himalayan poppies (Mecanopsis). I love these delicate, unusual coloured flowers but have been unsuccessful in getting them to flower. I was delighted to see that one has produced a long flower stem with lots of buds. The other is very much alive, so fingers crossed, it will flower next year. These poppies prefer a shady situation, my 2 are growing deep in a flower bed which doesn’t get direct sunlight. The flower is such a stunning shade of blue, you can see it right across the garden.

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Delicate and delightful, Mecanopsis. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

One final image, my gorgeous blue iris has opened up this week. It stands alone in a corner of a flower bed in the front of the house, and is greatly admired. I just can’t resist inhaling the bubble-gum aroma every time I walk past. Have a good week and enjoy the sunshine 🙂

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Iris Pallida. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

 

 

 

Joyous June

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Lovely lupins. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

From the last few days of May, I think my garden looks at it’s best. There is so much colour, so many fragrant blooms, it is a real joy to be outside, and even the weeding seems less of a chore! The weather has been kind, and I have been outside more than I have been indoors. The lupins are great value in the garden; the flowers with their rich, spicy aroma, are in bloom for a long time, and once the long heads have finished, cut them off and smaller blooms appear for a second showing.

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White and pink lupins. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The last of my spring bulbs are in flower now. I planted alliums for the first time a couple of years ago, so this is their second late spring showing. I love the intricate web of tiny star-like lilac flowers that make up the globe shaped bloom.

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Allium cristophii. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a fine year for rhododendrons and azaleas. Most have past their best now, but this scarlet beauty stands at the bottom of the drive-way and is always one of the last to flower. It makes a stunning display. The later varieties are particularly sweet-smelling. The peachy-pink one below is heavily scented although sadly not quite so many blooms this year. The pure white azalea and the apple blossom-pink rhododendron, on the other hand, are almost overloaded with blooms.

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Scarlet rhododendron. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Later flowering rhododendrons and a white azalea. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

One of the finest trees in the garden is the laburnum. On a bright day, the rich yellow glow from the petals is quite dazzling, and the heavy scent is intoxicating. The flowers look particularly glorious against a blue sky. Sadly it’s not in flower for more than a few days before the petals start falling like vibrant confetti, all over the garden.

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In full flower, laburnum tree. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I have been patiently waiting for this iris to come into flower. For the first time, I split the rhizome back in the Autumn and was delighted (and relieved) when the buds started to form about a month ago. This variety is a real beauty called Iris Pallida; the pale sky blue flowers have the aroma of slightly spicy bubble-gum. It’s planted in a dry, sunny corner by the front house wall, and flowers from the top down. I believe the rhizome of this particular iris is used as a botanical in some gin varieties.

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Iris pallida. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My final image to share this month, is from a crop of plume thistles Atropupureum which are growing in the back garden. Not only popular with me, but the bees love them too 🙂

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Plume thistle (Atropupureum) and bee. Image: Kathryn Hawkins