Week 9: Andover Garden Watch 2020 – a very special spring

The ninth week of watching colour and beauty emerge on each and every day of this surreal spring.

Sunday 17 May

Traditionally this is the week of the Chelsea Flower Show, but for the first time since WWII it was cancelled, and gardeners had to make do with Monty Don and Jo Swift joshing and reminiscing about former glories. (Not unlike Gary Linneker and friends on Match of Another Day, re-living soccer highlights)

Nevertheless there is one ritual that persists: the Chelsea Chop – delivered at this time of year by conscientious gardeners to contain the exuberant growth of sedums.

Sedums are tough; succulents usually are. Despite this savagery, they simply shrug and put their energies into bud-breaking lower down the stems, as you will see.

Last week the first flush of spring colour receded, and for a few days the garden seemed to stall, or at least ‘draw breath’  – a brief hiatus before fresh bright summer colours burst on the scene. And ‘burst’ they did, as you will see….

Monday 18 May – the pink, greys and burgundy bed 

These flowers slide through reds and pinks to mauves and purples


though the camera fails the soulful violet of fading petals

and in this hot spring these old roses shape-shift each day, before our very eyes

Tuesday 19 May – shouty yellows and orange bed

Rosa World Peace – a present from Hedi, David’s mother; a subject close to her heart

And who could resist Rosa Absolutely Fabulous ?

and the edgy Sisyrinchium clearly enjoy the bright sunshine


Wednesday 20 May – fairground and river bank 

The twice-yearly clipping ritual begins, not unlike sheep-shearing and as hard work. The sharp lines of the triple decker pom-pom certainly stand out


The pollen from the flowers of the surrounding alders and crack willows have given way to seed heads in such profusion that the air seems hazy as they float like snow flakes, and gather first on the the grass, and even indoors

The gunnera spreads its great umbrellas


And a duck swims by as the trees in full leaf create pools of shade and reflections


Thursday 21 May – the blues and whites bed 

The early morning dappled sunlight casts subtle shadows and catches the pale foliage of the two shrubs on the right : pittosporum tenufolium Irene Paterson 


Gradually the beds fill with the blues of nigella, eryngiums, delphiniums, geraniums (Johnson’s Blue) and penstemons

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While the white roses join the foxgloves in heightening the colour contrast – and provide any eery intensity in evening light

The teeny verbascum and the more robust dark blue delphinium unfurl

as the delphiniums begin to make themselves known – pale blues to start, with a more vigorous deeper blue not far behind, in the centre of bed, looking away from the river towards the gravel apron, the extension and glorious Rosa Blush Noisette


Friday 22 May – the herb garden and gravel apron 


and a good view of the compost bins, graced by a show of roses of their own


These have a very special place in our affections. One is ten years older than the other – I think it is on the right. Difficult to say. Both came from a bespoke maker in Goodrich, near Ross on Wye, who was able to supply us with an identical sibling when space finally permitted two. (There used to be a greenhouse here!)

The gap between the garage and house offers a modicum of shade for the seedling peas, hardening off before moving to the allotment next week, and a canna.


And of course, the family favourite rose..Blush Noisette.

But really the herbs should have the last word


Saturday 23 May 

This week has been all about the transition from early to late spring, as the weeks rush by. In the front gravel garden the eye is drawn irresistibly to the Californian poppies which have loved the heat and the incessant sun, while the alliums now form perfect spheres of seed heads, as their colour fades.


Today there was some brief relief : it rained! But only for half an hour…


And I took the chance to clean the roof of the greenhouse with a makeshift long-handled mop, from the upstairs bedroom


The gate between the garage and the house opens on the rear garden.


In 2003 we were sceptical of the estate agent’s description of ‘a garden sweeping down to the river’. But now the diagonal view towards the hard-standing by the river is breath-taking. Then it was very prosaic; virginia creepers, narrow straight beds, a lot of grass and overgrown shrubs – but the site had such potential.

Next week the blog will illustrate some of the design principles – largely those of John Brookes – which undergird the transformation.

One thought on “Week 9: Andover Garden Watch 2020 – a very special spring

  1. Absolutely incredible! I can’t imagine taking care if so many plants. You truly are amazing and passionate about it which is why is is so beautiful. Should be featured in one of those Home and Garden books


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