The Beauty of Clear Pink: 5 of the best roses.

Every season seems to have its predominant colour combinations. Early summer here  means gentle blues, pinks and whites. The blue geraniums glow in the dusk and white flowers pepper the meadows and woods. The intense green brought on by the rain this year is the perfect foil for the pale pink roses.
Here are 5 beautiful roses, all photographed in the gardens this week:
Rosa ‘Constance Spry’
Introduced in 1961 this is the grand dame of David Austin’s best roses. She flowers once a year but in such profusion and vigour that it is worth the wait. The flowers have a beautiful form and scent. Can be grown as a large shrub or climber. We grow ours as short climbers on a north and south wall.
Constance Spry
Rosa ‘The Generous Gardener’ 
Named to commemorate the work of the NGS (who we open for at Easter). I pass this rose on the way into the office everyday (you can see it next to the trellis gate by the tearoom where we grow it as a short climber ) Its great beauty is guaranteed to make me pause in admiration.
Generous Gardener (2) Generous Gardener (3)
Rosa ‘Gentle Hermione’
A relatively recent introduction that is making a healthy show in our meadow. A tribute to its natural vigour; not all roses can cope with the cold and competition in our meadow rose displays. I am looking forward to getting to know this beautiful rose better. The picture below shows an atypical flower that is charming nevertheless.
Gentle Hermione
Rosa ‘The Windflower’
I love the casual blowsiness of this rose, it is good for informal areas. The petals are loosely folded and the flowers exude the kind of charm that carefree children have.
Rosa ‘The Mayflower’
Our big hitter. We grow this as a hedge outside the tearoom. The blooms lack the form of some of the finer roses listed above but what it lacks in detail it makes up for with the big picture…It is very healthy and flowers throughout the summer. We get the most requests for its name of all the plants in the garden(despite the prominent label)
The Mayflower

And while I am on the subject of pink. This is our dark elder. Sambucus nigra. I think it is ‘Black Lace’ but we also have ‘Black Beauty’  Shown here with the elderflower cordial that I made from its flowers. For the recipe see my blog at Fennel and Fern (due to be published June 29)
South Kesteven-20120615-00809South Kesteven-20120624-00832

Our friends from Africa

The arrival of the flycatchers in May is always a big deal for me. They have come as far as the swallows and they have massive understated charm. They sit on twigs waiting for insects to pass, dart out, grab their prey and return to the branch. They have bright deep brown eyes and are a pale brown with attractive, delicate markings. They are touchingly unafraid of humans. They nest near buildings in the most ridiculously open spots. Here is a photo of a brood of four chicks that successfully fledged about a week ago in a nest we passed everyday. Now that we have done our job of keeping predators from their young, the whole family has gone off to another part of the wood.

The swallows continue to display in the gardens amazing us with their ability to fly in and out of the pop holes we created for them in our sheds. They bring so much activity to the gardens and any minute will be joined by crowds of house martins and swallows from the north. As they move south they use the gardens as a staging post to stock up on insects before they press on again.

The Velvet border

Built on the rubble of the old front drive in the driest part of the garden, the Velvet Border did not have a prepossessing start. It is sited just below the gatehouse and is about 15m long. Originally I planned a red border but soon got fed up with the restriction and decided to focus on texture instead. The colourways resulting from this have been far better than I could have hoped. Deep reds and blues vie with dusky yellows and the palest furriest leaves.

This border has finally come into its own this year. The delphiniums and the oriental poppy ‘Pattys Plum’ have got their roots down and decided to show what they can really do. Supported by the great Onopordums at a mere 9′ tall and the purple hue of Cotinus we feel this is a border worthy of a Chelsea showing. Its not much of a shot, my gardening skills are better than my photography (I hope) but you can at least get a feel for the lushness of the planting.

As the gaps appear in midsummer we have Tithonias and Coleus ‘Black Dragon’ on standby to continue the theme. Hope you have time to come and see it x