callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

Mr J’s Peony

Some years ago, I took over from a friend who was helping a very old man with his garden. Mr J had moved to Dorset on retirement and built an award winning garden from scratch. The way he’d planned out the garden from a bare plot round a bungalow was amazing, and he’d then filled it with unusual shrubs and perennials. By the time I knew him, he was in his nineties and the only gardening he could manage was some pottering in the greenhouse. His daughter begged him to move nearer the family but he was obstinate, telling me that if he left the garden, ‘I’d be dead in mumfs.’ I’m sure it was love of the garden that kept him going. He kept an eye on it by whizzing round on his mobility scooter in the most terrifying manner. Once, he managed to tip himself into a hedge; luckily he was wearing his panic button but he still had to wait a while to be rescued.

He had a man in to do the ‘cuttin’’, as he called it, and me to be his weeding, watering and tidying slave. Goodness, he was an old bossy boots but I got fond of him and missed him when he died, aged ninety six. Unlike many keen gardeners, he wasn’t very generous about giving away roots or cuttings, claiming that if he gave away everything people asked for, he’d have nothing left. I did manage to get some seed from a lovely tree peony he had. I was successful with the seed but in my old garden I already had one tree peony and couldn’t decide where to put another. So I just kept potting it on into ever larger pots. I brought it with me when I moved, then when I’d cleared a whole bed of rubbishy stuff and was ready to replant it from scratch, in went the peony at last. Ten days ago, I found this.



I am so thrilled with this. Ten years or more is a long time to wait for a flower but in my opinion this is worth the wait. Plus it reminds me of many afternoons spent toiling in a lovely garden.


When I first moved here, I found a plant of Geranium renardii buried amongst shrubs and almost invisible. I like this as a front row plant, because of its crinkly foliage, so I got up a rhizome, stuck it in the ground where I wanted the new plant, and hoped. I’m rewarded again because it’s decided to do for me and is flowering for the first time right now.


These cream wallflowers are new to me this year and are very effective. I’ve taken cuttings, so that I can have more next year.


I love the way Tellima grandiflora suddenly mounds itself up as it prepares to open its little green flowers. It’s such an obliging plant, flourishing in the most unpromising soil and shade. A little too obliging with self seeding, but easy enough to remove.


This white ‘Bleeding Heart’ started flowering almost as soon as the shoots pushed through the soil and it’s still growing and producing more flowers as it goes. It really lights up a shady bed. No matter how foul the weather, there's always something nice to look at when you have a garden.
Tags: new garden, peonies

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