Chronicle June 2012 | Chronicle August 2012

July 2012

Greetings to all my dear gardening friends! The date is 2 July and it's the middle of summer here in Sweden. The time is nine o'clock in the evening and I'm about to do something I’m unaccustomed to doing – I’m going to go out in the garden WITHOUT a tie! I've even unbuttoned my shirt; after all, it is now the height of summer!

But what a miserable month June turned out to be – rain and storms. Apparently we've never had such a rainy month in the Stockholm area as we experienced this year. I can only look up into the blue sky now and think “Why hell did it rain so much?”

I'm truly sick and tired of it. I must admit that the garden hasn't been hurt by all the rain; on the contrary, it’s lusher than ever. But even so, a few breaks in the rain would have been nice, since almost the entire month of June was a question of just running in and out between the showers.

Be that as it may, everywhere one looks budding is visible: the rose season has arrived, the perennials are thriving, and I have a sense of wonderment when I think of what’s happening at the moment in the garden. And we still have the entire summer ahead of us! Many people in Sweden equate summer with the early summer, forget about the rest of summer, and then before you know it autumn has arrived, and soon thereafter it's time to get out the snow plough.

Going around the garden, I pass by the Festiva Maxima peonies with their large, pure white, fragrant blooms with occasional flecks of crimson at the base. I'm amazed by the heady perfume of the white damask roses Madame Hardy (named after Thérèse, the wife of Julien Alexandre Hardy, the head gardener at the famous Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, who created the rose in 1832). So much is happening in the garden at this time of year. On the other hand, there’s also now time to catch up a bit, since things are beginning to slow down, although there is still plenty to do in the form of weeding, weeding, and more weeding. In addition, there’re still quite a lot planting, planting, planting.

I take a look at our rhododendrons, which I intend to add to quite considerably over the next few years. It was my partner Reuven who suggested bringing some more rhododendrons into the garden, despite the fact that we've already got quite a few. Even if the garden isn't so large (approx. 1,500 square meters), it should be possible to squeeze in a few more rhododendrons; after all, no garden should be without them. Among other things, we’re going to make a hedge of yakushimanum rhododendrons in a somewhat neglected area in the back garden near the path leading from the back gate.

I'm also very glad that we've got rid of a whole area of many lilac bushes in the back garden, thereby creating totally different growing conditions there in the future. That will be great fun.

I'm enormously fond of hollyhocks, and also of daylilies. As far as roses are concerned, this year will be an exceptional one as more and more roses come into bloom in the next few weeks. Oh my goodness yes! It's going to be something quite extraordinary. And then, of course, as every year, my old favourite clematis ‘Summer Snow’ is truly amazing – it's covering nearly the entire front of the house. When we planted it many moons ago, I had no idea that a clematis could cover an entire house. But matters must be taken in hand – and soon!

Alliums are another favourite of mine. Don't plant one – plant hundreds instead and enjoy the mass effect. In my view, Sweden should be filled with alliums: deer don't eat them, voles don't eat them, and they can bloom for an exceptionally long period of time depending on the types planted. Here in the garden, Purple Sensation is already over (the height of blooming was during the last two weeks of June) and the somewhat thicker Christophii is now coming into its own and will continue to bloom long into July. And, although it's not relevant at present (since we've already submitted our order for autumn bulbs), why not consider buying bulbs through our Bulb Club and enjoy the unbeatable low prices we are able to offer? If you're interested in becoming a member (membership is, of course, free), send your name, e-mail address and telephone number to You'll then be on our mailing list when we send out details of our spring bulb selection in December (brrr –it's almost inhuman to think about winter just now!).

As I go around the garden with a glass of red wine in my hand, late on a summer evening, I'm able to appreciate and enjoy the incredible lushness of the garden. Lushness is truly important. It can’t be created in any old fashion; it is as it is.

Life is green, life is beautiful ? let it flourish.

Stefan, A Gentleman Garden

p.s. summer reading tips: the August edition (no. 8) of Allers Trädgård will carry an article entitled article “Succeed with lilies” dealing with – you’ve guessed it – lilies in our garden. The text, which is by Susann Gson Engqvist, will be illustrated with beautiful photos from the garden taken by our very own photographer/web designer Solveig Edlund. Incidentally, Susann and Solveig are, respectively, the author/photographer behind the book about A Gentleman’s Garden, namely “Trädgärdspassion – en kärleksförklaring i fyra akter” (Gardening passion – a declaration of love in four acts) (published by Ica bokförlag).