A Little Bit Wibbly Wobbly

Waterford, south-east Ireland, 5 June 2021

That’s the way it goes sometimes; not straight and narrow but off-plan, a little askew, a little bit wibbly wobbly. But, you know, a bit of wibbly wobbly fits in very well in the garden, especially a garden in a rural setting. Stiff formal would not suit out rural location; informal, soft and gentle are more in keeping. Mind you, we have a rather simple formal-ish area immediately behind the house, in view from our livingroom window, an open area of grass with hedges to left, right and at the far end, a simple plain area, uncomplicated, uncluttered, calm. Yes, I philosophised at length and in depth on this question as I cut the “hedge” at the bottom on the garden today. I qualify the description as “hedge” for it just about qualifies as such. It was originally the field ditch bordering on to the road when we added this part to our garden, a mixture of native trees – hawthorn, blackthorn, ash, hazel, and hornbeam – and I attempted to put manners on it by layering what was there and by constant cutting, in the manner of a hedge, ever afterwards. The original trees were not precisely in line – nature is rarely so confined in its planting – so my “hedge” has a certain wibbly wobbly shape to it and I have decided to delight in this idiosyncrasy rather than concede my obvious failure to produce a regulation hedge. Wibbly wobbly is good and I have found that I can convince myself of this by repeating it regularly. Now, if only we could be so accommodating with people wouldn’t the world be a better place!

Now, philosophising – though it may accompany it – has never weeded a garden bed, nor cut the grass, nor the edges, nor the hedges and all have to be done to keep the show on the road. We plodded along as usual this week, a bit of this and a bit of that; some interruptions from rain and some pleasant times with sun and warmth. Mary, The Head Gardener, has started into cutting the box hedges and does so with great skill with the battery-powered clippers she bought last year – she likes to do so at Epsom Derby time, she tells me. Apparently, it is what the best people do and who would I be to contradict her! As you may gather, the box hedging is a class above and demands a gardener of a class above while I deal with the mixed “hedge” at the bottom of the garden and the privet hedges in other places. Such is the position of the Under Gardener in all gardens, I suppose!

Now, enough of my baloney. Let’s have a look at a few things which look well in the garden this week: Hawthorns are in flower on all the farm ditches and on roadsides around the country. We grow a number in the garden, ‘Paul’s Scarlet’, ‘Crimson Cloud’ and ‘Rosea Flore Pleno’ but two I grew from seed give me greater pleasure and have proved to be far better garden trees: Crataegus crus-galli and Crataegus prunifolius. This latter has just come into flower, a very good display, and later in the year will have excellent autumn colour, followed by a wonderful crop of large red haws.

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow of larger images:

Perhaps, it is because of the position I planted Azara serrata that it doesn’t particularly stand out in the garden but, when in flower, its fragrance which some describe as an unusual vanilla certainly catches one’s attention. It is a slightly odd fragrance, a little different, quite heavy and I like it very much. The Azara is now about three metres high, multi-stemmed, and though it’s yellow flowers are attractive and produced in great number it is the fragrance which is its best feature:

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow of larger images:

The bearded Irises add a flamboyance to the garden at this time of the year with their big, blousy flowers. We have a number of favourites and have added a beautiful selection in the last year – a gift of a collection of the Benton irises, those created by the artist Cedric Morris. The first of these has opened and more will open in the coming weeks but I will save them for another weekly report. In the meantime:

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow of larger images:

Ah, here, why wait for the rest: Here are two of the Benton Irises: ‘Benton Olive’ and ‘Benton ex Dodo Rose’ – yes, an odd name and a longer story.

The high grass area (Bulb Lawn/mini-meadow) has grown at a great rate and has entered another flowering phase with the blue of camassias – Camassia cusickii – complimenting the yellow of Meadow Buttercup. It’s a very peculiar section of the garden because it is regularly gives surprises. There was a blue year when we had a great covering of Forget-me-not and while in the last two years it has been dominated by Hawksweed there isn’t a sign of any this year. Yellow Rattle is well established and has reduced the vigour of the grass significantly and self-seeds each year and adds its own contribution to colour in the area.

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow of larger images:

The Widow Geranium is rather a sad name for a wonderful garden geranium, Geranium phaeum. It grows well here – something which always recommends a plant to me! It spreads gently and can be propagated very easily by digging off small sections and planting elsewhere – no need for potting up or molly-coddling at all!

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow of larger images:

Word came to me early this week that the bee orchids, Ophrys apifera, had begun to flower in Tramore, a seaside town about 15/20 minutes away. There have been bee orchids on the sand dunes in Tramore for years but last year there was an exceptional flowering of several hundred plants on what was previously a landfill site. It is wonderful to see nature reclaiming such areas and it is particularly heartening to see such rare plants thriving there. As if the bee orchids were not enough I found a few Western Marsh Orchids, Dactylorhiza kerryensis, on the same site this year. I have found these on another site less than a mile away but they have dwindled there because of a change in land use so to see them emerging here on an area which is set aside for wildflowers and wildlife is simply fabulous.

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow of larger images:

Finally, for Eileen wished to see it, a new addition to the garden: A white Cypripedium. It is a young and small plant but I hope it will do well for me:

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I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!

34 thoughts on “A Little Bit Wibbly Wobbly

  1. I do love a bit of baloney, and when there’s philosophising it’s a combination as powerful as vanilla scent!
    What plants stand out? Iris Immortality and Rose Dodo seem at opposite ends of life’s spectrum.
    The garden is splendid, Paddy! Fair splendid altogether.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Hawthorns look in fine form, such lovely trees. It’s nice to see a slightly less common species of it too!

    The Bee and Marsh Orchids are lovely looking things. As you say, it’s particularly nice when plants make a home for themselves somewhere new.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely piece as always Paddy ,
    You’re mention of Hawthorn in flower is timely as going out for cows this warm moist morning before 7 , the scent frim my hedgerows was heavy and a welcome to the day ..

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  4. I rather like the unruliness of a hedge of mixed natives, though applying the same tolerance to people isn’t quite as easy! I must try to be more forgiving! Hawthorn is so pretty in its simplicity. By contrast the iris are really sophisticated ladies, for me the most alluring is Benton ex Dodo Rose. I went out last weekend in search of bee orchids at a Belgian nature reserve not far from us, didn’t see a single one, I think I was too early (or I hope so, so that I can go back, otherwise I missed their flowering time and will have to wait another year).

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    1. I was out this morning to photograph a single bee orchid on the grounds of an educational establishment in town – the only specimen of this variation recorded in the country. And a friend has just reported on another rare one about an hour and a half’s drive away. I’ll have to visit!

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  5. So happy to have confirmation from the Head Gardener that it is time to trim my Box hedging! I am going straight out to acquire one of those handy clippers! I am reassured that I am in line with the Best People!!!!

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    1. There’s fencing on two sides. We have a neighbouring house on one side with an old field ditch between us – tall ash trees and other lower trees on that. Another side fronts on to the road so planted by ourselves. Then the other two sides are on to agricultural land. There used be cows so good fencing was essential – post and rail with barbed wire on the outside.

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  6. I’m not anything resembling a botanist. Ninety-five percent of the time I have no idea what variety of plants I’m looking at when I’m wandering around outside. But I wonder if I’ve ever seen a Hawthorne in nature. I really like the way they look, based on your photos.

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    1. I planted it beside the pink one reckoning that if the pink one did well there then this one had a good chance there also. I pronounce it as Sip ri pee deeum

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  7. Oh my goodness the Azara is stunning. I don’t recall ever seeing it before and that’s what I love about your blog – I’m always discovering something new.

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  8. I just love a good Hawthorne in garden and in the country, and you have an exceptional garden to be sure. Thank you for taking the time to put together this Saturday treat. The orchids are splendid.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fabulous post Paddy! The Azara caught my attention, with its unusual fragrance, and golden look to the tree from its flowers. You have such a great selection of iris. What a bonus you had finding the Western Marsh Orchids, and it’s great to hear that they flourishing in a wildlife area.

    Liked by 1 person

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