Chronicle June 2009 | Chronicle August 2009

July 25th 2009

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Cicero

25 July 2009:  the early summer is already over and high summer is here in full force.

I have to begin this chronicle by going back a couple of days to July19th. It was then that we opened our garden for the first time, through a scheme organised by the magazine Land. It was the first time, but certainly not the last. I’d like to thank all the wonderful gardening friends and others who came to visit and made July 19th into an unforgettable day.

Over 300 people turned up, the weather was wonderful, and heady scents wafted around the garden. Many thanks to our dear friend, Sara, the driving force behind a wind trio which delighted everyone with music by the Swedish poet and composer Bellman.  Refreshment consisted of elderflower cordial, tarragon sorbet and sparkling wine, and sales of our first collection of greetings cards went well. Once again, my thanks to all our visitors; we look forward to seeing you again.

We haven’t shown our garden previously, since what we have created (and are working on) is a highly personal little garden. It isn’t large, but 1/3 of an acre still takes quite a bit of time.

We’re now in the month of July and I’m often asked the question, “When is the garden at its finest?”  It’s a question that always leaves me bewildered, and I find it impossible to give an answer. A garden is a living creation, with new things happening throughout the year, week after week, month by month.

It’s particularly now, at the end of July/beginning of August, that scents are so intense in our garden. There are lilies in profusion. One of them, a wonderful yellow lily called African Queen, not only exudes a heady scent but, with red blushes on the outer side of its petals, perfectly complements our classic Swedish red wooden house with white corners.

Most of our roses have now finished flowering, after having provided fantastic fragrances from Midsummer to the end of July. I’m thinking particularly of my  beloved ramblers —Aksel Olsen, Lykkefund — not to mention the fantastic Seagull,  a very vigorous rambler which has climbed to the top of one of the apple trees, covering it entirely in large clusters of single, pure white flowers with pronounced golden stamens. The white, heavily scented Mulligani are another favourite. Oh what scents, what a wonderful feeling to amble round the garden and take it all in –especially in the evening. At the same time, one is aware that things are happening all the time, and that there is more to come...

... And indeed, it’s now the turn of the lilies, honeysuckle and lavender. If you want scents in your garden, remember to spread them around. Don’t plant a honeysuckle just in one place — spread out! Plant honeysuckle in as many places as possible in the garden, and plants different sorts; there are so many varieties of honeysuckle that bloom from the beginning of June, long into the autumn. One of my favourites is japonica Halls Prolific, which begins blooming around Midsummer and continues well into October. With a little thought, it’s possible to have a scented garden throughout the growing season.

Nowadays, I don’t like to dot around; I’ve done so for far too many years. Now I’m attempting to create totalities. I want to achieve a mass effect. I have a number of white clematis Paul Farges (aka Summer Snow) which have climbed up into trees and now cover large swathes of treetops. Talk about a mass effect!

Most people regard dahlias as an autumn plant. However, if pre-planted they provide an in-between flourish at the beginning or middle of July when there’s something of a lull in the garden, at least at ground level. The spring flowering that was so magnificent is now over; the early summer blooming is over, while the lilies are now exuberantly strutting their stuff. Our agapanthus (African lily), which in our climes can only be grown in pots, have just now begun to bloom. As for the many perennials, they’re still patiently waiting for their turn to show off.

-"But you’ll have to wait, my dear, you must wait. I’m not yet quite ready."

No. Just now at the end of July, it’s the air which is intoxicating the senses. The last roses are beginning to wilt, and the lilies are diffusing their exotic scents throughout the garden. Oh, oh, oh.

Welcome to our garden. Greetings to everyone out there in the big, wide gardening world. Let’s learn from and be inspired by each other, teach and inspire each other, share our knowledge and collective experience.

Hugs from a Gentleman’s Garden.