The Rain Dance and more besides!

Waterford, south-east Ireland, 26th June 2021.

My habitual position when weeding in the garden is on my knees and the Head Gardener has commented that it is the nearest I ever come to prayer. However, when the garden is showing signs of stress, of drying out from lack of moisture, of plants failing to thrive and when the gardener has to spend time with hosepipe and sprinkler to ensure the survival of recently planted vegetable seedlings the temptation to turn to prayer becomes pressing. My mind turned to films of childhood and scenes of war dances and rain dances but I went no further – you will be relieved to read – than recall the scenes and made no effort to replicate them. Perhaps I should have made more of an effort for though we had rain it was not an awful lot. That persistent heavy muggy atmosphere has continued to the weekend and we would dearly love to have a good downpour to clear the air – and water the garden, of course!

Aside from my turning of sorts to prayer during the week, I also manage to fit in a little gardening. The Head Gardener seemed to spend much of her time dead-heading – but I escaped her attentions! Of course, she did much more with some new plantings, weeding and watering, watering and more watering. My routine grass-cutting and edging continued as usual. The espalier apples received their annual summer pruning and I was delighted to see quite a good set of fruit so look forward to plentiful apples later in the year. Last year’s spinach had bolted so it was time to take it out. All in all it made for a very large pile which had to be shredded before being added to the compost bin which, by the way, is simply steaming hot at the moment with the amount of fresh material, especially, grass being added. So, what else is hot in the garden at the moment?

Off the top of my head, there are seven horse chestnut trees in the garden – I’m being generous as one is on a dividing ditch, one just outside the garden fence and one, Aesculus parvifolia, about to be added to the compost bin as it is becoming a nuisance, spreading by suckers, and growing into nearby plants. The Head Gardener and I differ as to which chestnut tree is favourite. She prefers Aesculus pavia, the Red Buckeye or Firecracker Plant as it is known in its native North America, with its attractive red flowers. I prefer the small – still under two metres after more than twenty years growing here – Aesculus mutabilis ‘Induta’ which has attractive bi-coloured flowers.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow:

Norman Hadden gardened in West Porlock, Somerset, in the earlier part of the twentieth century. He imported a wide range of plants, mainly cherries, from Japanese nurseries but is probably best remembered for the beautiful dogwoods which he bred. Some years ago I came on two of his introductions, Cornus ‘Porlock’ and Cornus ‘Norman Hadden’. Unfortunately, ‘Norman Hadden’ was rocked by a winter storm, its roots damaged, and it succumbed last summer and had to be removed, a big loss! ‘Porlock’ continues to thrive and is presently at the moment I really enjoy in dogwoods, that moment when the white flowers develop a pink/red edges to the white blooms. This colouring will continue to expand so that the white flowers will soon be reddish all over, giving a long season of interest and beauty.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow:

We have lost contact with the gardening friend who bought this following plant for us. She told us she had visited a nursery where she saw it and knew we would love it and, of course, she was perfectly correct. Although over twenty years with us, it is less than three metres in height – a tidy shape and growth rate, and produces two flushes of flower each year. It never makes an extravagant display but it is pleasant and interesting and I am delighted to have it doing so well for us. Parrotiopsis jacquemontiana is somewhat of an only child for it is the only plant in its genus. The foliage will reveal that it is a relative of the witch hazels which hails from the Western Himalayas. I recall a plant growing in Mount Usher Gardens, Co. Wicklow, but it has been removed in recent years but I have never seen it growing anywhere else which is a pity as it is an attractive plant.

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow:

Sarah Raven describes Gladiolus colvillei ‘The Bride’ as “pretty, delicate and invaluable for May pots and flower arrangements”. I have never used it in pots nor in flower arrangements but is a plant which I truly love and would hate to be without in the garden. We spotted a pot of strap-like foliage in a pot in a local nursery years ago with the intriguing label, “June Lilies”. The foliage wasn’t at all lily-like and we bought a pot purely out of curiosity. It turned out to be a plant we have loved more and more with each passing year and it has repaid our interest by being an excellent garden plant, growing without needing any special attention, flowering reliably and increasing well year on year.

What do you do when it is raining and you can’t garden? Well, if it clears for a few minutes, I usually go out with the camera so that I can at least see what is looking nice in the garden, pass the time taking a few photographs and then enjoy viewing them later. Sometime, a “theme” enters my head when I start out with the camera and Julie Andrews jumped immediately to mind when I saw those raindrops on roses! OK, my musical tastes are rather limited but I did like the roses!

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow:

And, to finish for this week, a lazy moment, for I wrote about the Benton Irises earlier in the week but feel they are worth another airing:

Click on the first photograph to begin a slideshow:

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!

25 thoughts on “The Rain Dance and more besides!

  1. Thank you for pointing out the different varieties of aesculus because I saw one ( A parvifolia ) lately that attracted me but I was not sure where I was going to put it and if it was going to spread. I will still give myself time to think a little bit. Very nice selection of Iris at the end of the post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The gladiolus are perfectly hardy. Their only set-back was in the winter of 2010-11 when we had an exceptionally cold spell, down to -7C here, the only time I experienced it. Otherwise, the easiest of garden plants.

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  2. It seems we’ve had more rain than you, that’s a change! I do like the way roses look when a bit soaked, they seem all the more romantic somehow. Very nice Gladiolus, perfectly placed in front of the silver birch, I have just been planting the last of Gladiolus byzantinus bulbs which is also delicate but magenta. I have the feeling that I’m planting it at the wrong time, but let’s see what happens!

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  3. The cornus is stunning and the raindrops on roses are lovely (snap!). The June lily looks great and strange that it isn’t more widely grown. However it’s the Iris that have really caught my attention. The subtle colour combinations are beautiful. I was particularly taken by Benton Olive and Nutkin. The link to the article on his artistic career was very informative too.

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    1. It’s a thought! After consultation, she has said that I’m cracked enough as I am – along the lines of that old saying, “better the world consider you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely interesting read and I could relate to both the watering and dead heading as after a week away, my garden needs a good deal of both! But glad you still have your head and eyes for some lovely photos!

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    1. We are still wishing for rain though, to be fair, the plants are not in stress but the ground is certainly drying out a lot.

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  5. I’m so glad you shared those pictures of the Aesculus parvifolia and it’s a shrub I am quite drawn to for the leaves alone. In flower it is something else. Lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have, thankfully, a forecast for rain this evening and over the weekend. The lawn has moved back from the brick edging leaving a gap between them. Everything is very dry and the plants are in dire need of a good watering.

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