I have never known such a slow and steady build up to summer. Everything has conspired to slow the garden down. The cold winter, the welcome soak of February and March, the total drought of April and May (less than an inch of rain in four weeks) and a mild (ish) and rainy (so far) June seem to have answered every plant’s needs. There is a prodigious amount of leafage in the garden; ramparts of green in the borders with fat buds just beginning to open all around.
Some plants have got their timing wrong. What was a delphinium doing opening its first flowers at the end of April? Most have held back for a grand splurge in late June. And I know why. It’s Lucy’s wedding on the 26th.
Our first daughter’s wedding, on May 31st 2004 coincided with the warmest May day on record, after a cold month. We were congregating in what shade we could find in a garden with precious few flowers.
This time all the roses will be out at once. The forerunners, Maigold for example, may have finished, but the main battery, which in this garden is mainly hybrid musks and ramblers, will be firing salvo after salvo. On our sunniest wall Paul’s Lemon Pillar has joined Maigold, white after orange, with the orange Lonicera tellmanniana and the pale buds of Clematis Perle d’Azur scrambling over a philadelphus already smothered in white.
In the borders cream thalictrums and my favourite goat’s beard with its almost-white spikes (why goat’s beard?) are the main background to the erupting roses. The full-flowered French fire first: Comte de Chambord, Jaqueline Dupré, Baronne Prévost, Belle de Crécy; all tones of pink and purple. Best of all with Madame Alfred Carrière, just-blushing white, high in a holly tree.
Round two, just underway, includes Felicia, Iceberg, Cornelia (who should be kept away from Felicia – her coppery pink shouts at Felicia’s silvery pink), the custard-coloured Buff Beauty and the cooler, creamy Autumn Delight.
Round three looks perfectly timed for wedding day. Indeed it starts with Wedding Day, high in a pear tree, and Rambling Rector, covering a shed, and culminates in our fifty-foot Wickwar, occupying three Christmas trees – with Paul’s Himalayan Musk scattering pink bouquets through a rather jaded old Chinese pine. Treasure Trove and Mrs Honey Dyson are still alarming us with 12 foot shoots. Will they make it to the wedding?