Progress in the garden

Thank you to those who are following my blog, including those who have done so recently. I feel guilty that I have not posted for so long but I have had a mountain of work that has had to be a priority. I am working on a book and have also been writing for Nags Hall Garden Centre, Godstone, Surrey, among other things. I was delighted to be asked to do their blog, having worked there when at school! Richard Knight said I was ideally placed to write about past times since I was there almost at the beginning! Not quite true! It is to celebrate their 70th year and it is a shame that Covid made the year so difficult. You can read my tips and reminiscences here every week –

Anyway, back to the here and now. I hope to be able to post more frequently again. I have not had the time to make as many developments in the garden as I had wanted but things have progressed. A benefit of taking photos – and I don’t take as many as I should – is that it shows the progress better than my memory. I often think I am getting nowhere but looking at previous photos demonstrates that I actually have got somewhere.

One area that has changed is the Lemon Meringue garden, planted with yellow and white. It was one of the first areas to be dug over and some plants put in.

As always, there have been some steps forward and some back. The two laburnums I planted to frame the garden died over winter (the area is shown a year ago above). I waited and waited for them to leaf up in spring but they just sat there and I finally lost patience in July and dug them up. I am assuming that the problem was waterlogging though other plants nearby were not affected so I am slightly unsure of the problem.

Thinking that if I can’t grow elder (Sambucus nigra) I might as well give up gardening, I replaced them with two upright sambucus ‘Gold Tower’. They are tiny at present but time will tell.

The photos were taken on a dull Wednesday I am afraid so the photos hardly zing. I have raised a lot of plants from seed this year and that includes annuals. Cutting the edges of the beds made a big difference and defines the beds. Viola ‘Ivory Queen’ was raised from cuttings and although not all survived their new home they make an edge (with a few gaps) to the planting.

Lupin ‘Cathy’s Ghost’ is not a great lupin. I raised them from seed and they have rather gappy spikes, but they do flower for a long time so I will be grateful to them in these early years and not shed many tears when they disappear. The yellow chard is not ideal either but is filling gaps and providing contrast, as well as some food.

Yellow Iceland poppies provide splashes of actual lemon among all the other yellows. I can’t remember the name of the leucanthemum – there are lots of pale yellows about – but it is pleasing me at the moment. I have used Nicotiana ‘Starlight Dancer’ in a lot of places. It is self-supporting and dainty, a feature inherited from its N. langsdorfii parent.


I have lilies in various places too and this L. longiflorum hybrid, in its second year, is bringing some perfume as well as colour. It has been a tricky year for the lilies. Lily beetle has appeared for the first time, the mid May frost clobbered some quite hard and virus has appeared in some in their second year and they will have to be culled. But, despite the fact that L. longiflorum is not the hardiest species and is supposed to be damaged by late frosts it is fine. More colour will be provided as the alstroemerias get into their stride.

It is worth mentioning Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’ which is a tough perennial with really delicately divided leaves of dark green and masses of small, pale yellow daisies. I like it a lot.

I have planted a lot of hemerocallis in the garden – about thirty – and a couple have been planted here. I am trying to avoid brash yellows in this part of the garden and there will be errors. Plants will come and go and I am not sure if Hypericum ‘Hidcote’ is quite right here. But these two hemerocallis seem to be the right colour and will stay.

Hemerocallis ‘Cool It’

Hemerocallis ‘Summer Star’

Both are shorter than they should be but they are new and were only planted in spring so I am just pleased that these bare-root newbies have flowered in their first year.











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7 Comments on “Progress in the garden”

  1. derrickjknight
    July 30, 2020 at 9:33 am #

    Congratulations on Nags Hall which Jackie knows well. We were only talking about your absence this morning πŸ™‚

    • thebikinggardener
      July 30, 2020 at 10:25 am #

      Thank you. I assume you were not talking about my absence from Knights – that was a long time ago. πŸ™‚ I was due to go back this summer for some promotional events but ‘you know what’ put paid to that idea.

  2. Meriel in Wicklow
    July 30, 2020 at 1:50 pm #

    I was getting a bit worried that you were ill or something awful had happened. I kept thinking that I must email you – but I didn’t! Sorry!
    I love that pale yellow – I have Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’ too and it’s flowering marvellously. It all looks wonderful.

  3. Paddy Tobin
    July 30, 2020 at 3:09 pm #

    Good to have you back with the blog and to see the progress in the garden which, despite your protestations, has been considerable.

    • thebikinggardener
      July 30, 2020 at 4:26 pm #

      thank you. With so much work to do I had to try to ignore distractions, which was no fun. But I have reached a better balance at the moment – we will see how long it lasts. Best wishes

  4. tonytomeo
    July 30, 2020 at 5:55 pm #

    I am sorry that I have not been following much while you were not writing much. I know how it is because I do not have much time either, and will have even less for a while.
    Lemon Meringue garden sounds amusing because I used to grow citrus trees. Our most popular cultivar was the ‘Meyer’ lemon, which was also one of my lesser favorite cultivars to grow. It was rather boring, and one of only two cultivars that was ungrafted (in its own roots). (The other cultivar was the ‘Seville’ sour orange, which was our least popular cultivar, but one of my favorites.) Anyway, this is irrelevant to the color scheme of your garden. I just find the name amusing.

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