My new obsession (it was hydrangea last year) are peonies. Above is Paeonia officinalis ‘Rubra Plena’ which blooms in late spring in spectacular fashion. The large buds below burst into fluffy deep crimson balls and make a magnificent combination mingling with old roses and astrantia in mixed borders. All peonies make great cut flowers with species available in primrose yellow, white and various shades of pink. The scent is difficult to define and varies for each cultivar but is slightly spicy and quite similar to roses. I would suggest a trip to a garden centre or a specialist nursery to get the full impact of the flowers and scent when the plants are in bloom. If you’re choosing them for cut flowers and you have the room then a large bed made up of cultivars with a variety of flowering times would be money well spent.
Naomi Schillinger outofmyshed.co.uk/ who this year published her book Veg Street on community gardening would love the garden above and below. I spotted it last year and today I met the owner who started growing vegetables five years ago after a subsidence repair and an insurance clause that disallowed any plants with roots deeper than 15 cm. It’s a front garden in full sun and measures about 3m by 4m and proximity to the house ensures regular watering and weeding. From picking to eating it could be less than five minutes with many of these healthy vegetables and salad crops. Planted in a window box in a narrow space on the path to the front door are cucumbers fronted with rocket and red and green oak-leaf lettuce … And the peas were doing fantastically well ( I wish I’d asked the secret since mine are half this size) … But my onions are getting bigger by the day… And the broad beans are free of blackfly… and I am cropping lots of lettuce planted from a supermarket tray of living salad… A neighbour picked six huge red poppies -Papaver orientale -from a bed where they thrive in very dry conditions in full sun. She cut them into a bucket of water and seared the end over a flame on the stove and claimed they would last for four to five days in a vase. I shall buy a plant or two for the patch at the back of the house where I rarely to do much watering .