Stella’s garden

I’m an amateur gardener, which will not be a surprise if you know I’m English, because that is what you expect. But, learning to garden has been a hard process for me over the past five years. I essentially destroyed the garden I inherited, then failed to sustain the new version, then finally cracked the secret code of water, food, pruning, and the big mystery…appropriate plant selection.

This has been a year of triumph. Instead of spending six hours each weekend (on a 40 square foot bed) planting and replanting to make the garden look tolerable through spring and summer, my plans have come to fruition. Finally, finally it is lush and green and doesn’t lurch uncertainly from month to month, and doesn’t fall apart if I don’t look at it for a week.

This is a tiny, shady bed with a Concorde grapevine growing out of it. Early in the season it looks like this:
Bed one early

The white flowers are sweet woodruff; there’s also a woodland poppy, barrenwort, a variegated dead nettle, and a struggling mukdenia. Now it looks like this:

Bed one late

And here’s a close up of the barrenwort (epimedium x y. “Roseum.”)


But the really exciting story about this bed is that there are two or three Lily of the Valley plants, which have never flowered in the five years I’ve tended them. Well, this year they did. And the stunning thing is not just their precise plastic appearance, but the scent is exactly like every Lily of the Valley bar of soap you ever bought for your grandmother, yielding an unbelievably sweet perfume out of those tiny bell flowers.

Lily of the Valley

Bed Two

This is the main attraction shown here early in the season:
Early garden
Early highlights included bluebells:
Columbine – this is an Aquilegia Black Barlow:


And Allen Bush:


I also love my lungwort and brunnera, which gives forget-me-not style flowers but on a beautifully variegated plant.

Then in May, we peak.

Late Garden

I’m overjoyed at the climbing rose and azalea combination:

Climbing rose

Azalea close up

Azalea rose together

Now in late June the honeysuckle is finding enough light up in the tree:


The nectarines have not all been stolen by the squirrels:


And the daring new clematis I planted has bloomed! It’s a Texensis Gravetye Beauty and frankly the loveliest clematis I have ever come across:

Clematis Texensis Gravetye

At the front of the house it’s all about the roses, but apparently I only took one photo this year…the first bloom:

First rose bloom

So, I’m going to cheat and show you last year’s until I take more photos:

Roses at front

Stella with roses

Yes, there is something existentially appropriate about being English and tending to roses. And yes, like Pandora says, it’s all about the war against the aphids.

Yellow rose

2 responses to “Stella’s garden”

  1. Adriana says:

    What a delight to see your heavenly garden. We are limited on the roof by a lack of running water and in the front garden by lack of sunlight, so I am (sorry) green with envy with your variety of blooms! I especially love the lily of the valley, azaleas, and honeysuckle. You should be so proud. Thank you for sharing a piece of your paradise!

  2. Lane says:

    This makes me sad that we can’t visit Washington the way we used to.