Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Prince Charles, The Smiths and a Passion for Podcasts

There was a time when I would have cranked up the volume on my car cassette player and sung my heart out to the strains of The Smiths. These days, although I am still prone to a spot of singalongaSmiths while driving, I am more likely to be clinging onto every word of a gardening podcast. My addiction to podcasts is interfering with my social life. Lingering post-lift conversations are a thing of the past as passengers are hastily disgorged from my vehicle so that I can settle selfishly into Gardeners' Question Time and similar treasures.
It was during one of these blissful solitary podcastly moments that I heard Prince Charles speaking about his love of delphiniums and how he would like to see battalions of them. Why wouldn't he? Three delphiniums make a handsome group, but a multitude of them yomping through the borders must be a marvellous thing. I prefer to think of them as a corps de ballet dancing through my garden rather than a battalion storming my barbecue area, but that aside, he and I are clearly of a single mind when it comes to beloved plants: more is most definitely more.
Taking care of mass Delphinium planting in the traditional way must be time-consuming. This doesn't scare me because (look away now if you are faint-hearted) I don’t stake my herbaceous perennials.... not even my delphiniums. I do, however, plant them in the least windy, most sheltered parts of the garden. After the storms which have battered us over the past few days, I had been expecting to see them slumped like a posse of teenagers over their mobile phones. I was wrong. These sturdy plants are dancers with serious core strength. They might not be as ramrod straight as those we see at flower shows, but they are most certainly standing tall and strutting their stuff, despite the occasional curved stem. Most importantly, bees love them. They are as popular as Nepeta with our buzzing friends at the moment. 
June borders might be a feast for the eyes, but while I was working in the garden a few days ago, I was bowled over by the most divine scent. Following my nose I found myself face-to-flower with Abelia mosanensis. Given that the roses are all belting out fragrance at the moment, the fact that quiet little Abelia flowers managed to eclipse them says much about the beauty and strength of its scent. First discovered in Korea, this 1.5 metre high shrub is a member of the honeysuckle family. I grow it in full sun, but it will take a little shade. Its light green leaves turn shades of red and orange in autumn and best of all, it is popular with butterflies and bees. Of all the myriad flowers deserving attention in June, a quiet, humble shrub with tiny blooms wins my heart. That is as shocking as telling the teenage me that there are more desirable plants than a limp Gladiolus which has been flailed about the stage by Morrissey.* 

*Just in case you are too young to remember.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PV4eiDi12w

Prince Charles on Gardeners' Question Time http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b074zy95

I am joining with http://www.maydreamsgardens.com/ for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Why not head over there and see what is blooming in June around the globe?


55 comments:

  1. Good to hear about the resilience of Delphiniums through the recent storms and all, they're not as delicate as they come across as. For favourite plants, more is definitely more, the better!

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    1. They are surprisingly tough. We have had more torrential rain and it has been really windy since I took these photos and if anything, the flowers look even better!

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  2. Alas, my delphiniums are no-shows this year. I'm not sure what happened to them, but you are making me think about planting more. You have some gorgeous blooms!

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    1. I'm sorry you lost your delphiniums. Do you think the slugs got them?

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  3. Sarah, abelia is a very fragrant plant. I've seen it in Saint Petersburg Botanic gardens, it's not hardy and grows there in a pot.
    I'm glad you have it in your garden.

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    1. I would love to go to St. Peterburg Botanical Gardens. It has such a history.

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  4. Oh yes! More blue in the garden!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!
    Lea

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    1. I love blue flowers. I especially love the way they seem to shine in the twilight.

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  5. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. Sadly my plot is out in the middle of a fairly exposed site so I have to stake any flowers that grow taller than a few feet. Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you. You have more patience than me if you are staking them. My veggie plot is very exposed - of all the places to grow veggies! I have been busily planting edible hedges for the past 3 years. I hope that some time within the next year, they might offer some protection. I swear I can see the courgettes quaking on a windy day!

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  6. Lovely. The color on those delphiniums is just amazing. Happy Bloom Day.

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    1. Thank you! I grow a number of different shades of Delphinium. The darker ones flower first; then the light blues; the white flowers are only just in bud.

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  7. I have put the Delphiums in a plastic net. 10x10 cm . It really works very well. I live close to the sea, so wind is always an issue. Groetjes Hetty

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    1. That's a good idea. It must be a real challenge to grow them so close to the coast.

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  8. Hiya,
    I value my abelia shrubs, as they flower early Autumn when there isn't much scent around so not much competition for them. Yours must be an earlier variety.
    Yes, delphiniums definitely stand to attention. A bit too much at ti8mes. I like them crooked.

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    1. I like autumn scent. The roses I grow are remontant, so they are still around in autumn, but I never notice the scent like I do in June. I would love an autumn-flowering Abelia!

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  9. Years before I had my first garden, I dreamed of growing Delphiniums. Like peonies, they were a symbol of "real" gardens in my mind. However, southern California is not the best environment in which to grow these beautiful plants, as I soon learned. With our drought now entering its fifth year, it's ridiculous to even try so I enjoy them when I see them, occasionally in local nurseries and more often on garden blogs. Feel free to post more photos of those glorious flowers! As to the Abelia, I think I need to run outside and take a sniff of mine!

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    1. yes, me too. I love these tiny shell pink trumpets - but never noticed the fragrance.

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    2. Hi Kris and Diana, I hope you've been enjoying the Abelia scent. I agree with you, Kris, about not even trying to grow plants in an inappropriate environment. We can't grow everything - it is far better to stick with the plants which thrive where we live. My soil won't support lime-haters, so I love to visit gardens on acidic/neutral soil.

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  10. I love Delphiniums and I used to have quite a large 'corps de ballet' in my garden, they blend perfect with the roses. The last few years they have gone quite backward in spite of my special care with bonemeal. No I'm busy to boost the stock again, that goes with the necessary struggles, bunnies are sometimes nibbling through the stems, sigh.....
    Well, that's the risk of gardening.

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    1. Rabbits are such a problem. My delphiniums are only a few centimetres from bunnies, but safely behind a fence. Just yesterday, I noticed little rabbit scratches in the gravel on the other side of the rabbit fence. So far the fence is holding them back, but they would be in for a feast if it didn't. Good luck with increasing your stock!

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    2. My bachelor son was recently helping me prune a friend's shrubs when he went hunting for the source of a sweet smell. At age 36, he has fallen in love with Abelia!(I hope a girl with equal charm is next.)

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    3. He is clearly a gentleman with exceptional taste. Fingers crossed that he will search out a fragrant partner very soon!

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  11. I am among the "can't grow delphiniums" cohort, but I loved seeing yours.

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    1. That's a shame, but I'm pleased that you enjoyed seeing the flowers.

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  12. I love Delphiniums, but can't grow them here in hot Texas. Still, it was nice to see yours and hear how you protect them from their floppings.

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    1. It is a shame that your climate doesn't support them. One of the joys of the blogosphere is that we get to see plants we can't grow. I must confess to spending much of my time reading blogs and feeling extremely envious of other people's climates and the plant possibilities their climates offer.

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  13. Your delphiniums are beautiful. There aren't too many blue flowers and the colors of these is amazing. Your garden reminds me of when I was growing up. My next door neighbor planted delphiniums in her border garden every year and I always admired their beauty. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Isn't it fab how a plant can transport us back to childhood? The Echinops are about to come into flower. I can remember the first time I saw them come into bud. I was 5 years old and transfixed by them. Just seeing those flower buds places me back in that childhood garden, so many miles away and years ago.

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  14. I adore delphiniums and planted several this spring. I did get to see the trial delphinium garden at Wisley which was astounding. I will agree with the Prince and with you. Let the dance begin.

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    1. I would have loved to have seen the trial garden. Enjoy your delphiniums!

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  15. I haven't had too much success with delphiniums in the past, but with this new garden I will try again. Blue in the garden - bring on more!

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    1. Good luck in your new garden. Fingers crossed that your succeed this time.

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  16. Sarah, as for music, I still get totally engrossed when I hear tracks from the early to mid 60s, much to the despair of my long suffering wife. Delphiniums kind of do it for me also, she seems happy enough with the latter.

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    1. I now have images of you doing The Twist with your delphiniums!

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  17. Hello Sarah, I love Delphiniums and a long but narrow strip of border called, "The Crescent" (for its shape) is densely planted with them and they are starting to come into flower. We've staked these by making a bamboo fence at waist height that curves round with the border, front and back, so that they are contained within. I'm hoping these hold them but they are relatively sturdy plants.

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    1. Fab! You have battalions! I will look out for photos.

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  18. I'll look out for that Abelia. I didn't realise it had a scent. All looking beautiful there, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It's a corker, Karen. I think I might need to put another one close to my office door, I love it so much!

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  19. I have 3 white delphinium that were never staked and are fine. This spring I bought a packet of delphinium seeds. They did rather well. I now have 20 pots of delphiniums (after giving quite a few)! What I am going to do with them I have no idea. I have the summer to think of a place where I could put them.

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    1. You are on the verge of a battalion!

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  20. Delphiniums are certainly beautiful plants, though I have always felt rather intimidated at the thought of growing them. The only exception is a Delphinium wildflower, D. exaltatum. I have exactly one, but it's doing well. As for podcasts, they are too technologically advanced for me. I spend a lot of time driving, and listen to lots of audiobooks on CD.

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    1. Audio books are great - I am a huge fan, especially as my mum was blind and they were massively important to her. Please don't be intimidated by Delphinium - they look as if they are going to be much trickier than they really are. Of course, I don't set myself flower show standards to meet, which helps!

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  21. I absolutely love your delphiniums! This year is my first year growing them. I love seeing them when I look out the window in the morning. The ones that I purchased are a light blue shade & I adore how unique the color is. Will have to look for the darker ones like yours! Very pretty :)

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    1. The light blue ones are gorgeous. They catch the light beautifully. Isn't it wonderful to look out of the window to see a plant that you love? I must confess that I keep my most favourite flowers next to the kitchen & bedroom windows so that I can see them every day. It really lifts the spirits!

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  22. A Smith's fan I certainly wasn't, I was much more a New Romantic back in the day. Those Delphinium flowers do lend themselves to the New Romantic movement style of dress - those high ruffled collars. I should add that I've two friends who were and still are Smith fan and even today model themselves on Morrisey. Talk about being caught in a time warp.
    I have a thing for Delphiniums too but so do the slugs and snails here so I eventually gave up growing them.

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    1. New romantic clothes must be a nightmare to garden in... no one wants compost in their ruffles and a soil-edged sleeve. How wise you were to move on. I'm sorry for your delphiniums. I have to keep a close eye on the young ones, but the more mature ones shrug off the molluscs.

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  23. I love delphiniums but after some I planted died off a few years ago I haven't replaced them. But I really must, they do look beautiful at the back of a June border.
    I admit I haven't got into podcasts yet. I'll also admit to liking the Smiths!

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    1. A fellow Smiths fan. Excellent! Once you enter the world of the podcast, you will wonder how you ever existed without it. It has turned me into a very fussy, narrow radio listener!

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  24. I am to old for the Smiths, the Beatles were more my era! Gardeners question time and the thoughts of Prince Charles are more of my tunes today. I gave up growing Delphiniums, losing out to the slugs.

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    1. Slugs are a bit fond of delphiniums. I have some newer plants and I have been watching them obsessively for slugs this year, but thank goodness they have stayed away. Not sure what they're chomping on... doubtless I will stumble upon the skeleton of a plant soon and the air will be blue.

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  25. I have never grown delphiniums, not sure why…(note to self: must grow next year)….but I agree fully with the idea of having as many plants as possible – I stack them like sardines in my garden, head to toe and on top of each other. That Abelia sounds like a great scent producer, and pretty too!

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    1. I'm sure you can find space for a delphinium or two... or five ;-)

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  26. I share your Delphinium love! I love the different shades of blue and would like to collect a full set!
    Can yours have a quiet word with mine about how to behave after a storm please ? Mine were staked yet still managed to collapse in a tear-stained heap after our latest storms !

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    1. Hurrah for a fellow Delphinium fan! I must confess to having increased the numbers and shades again this year.
      What rotters to collapse. Mine are all in very sheltered parts of the garden and protected by yew hedges from the worst winds. I guess you might have borne the brunt of the storms.

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