Week 12: Andover Garden Watch 2020 – a very special spring

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

Sunday 7 June

Today was a day for admiring the river – its bank and its wildlife


The blue campanula is in full flower, buzzing with hundreds of worker bees, and setting off the gunnera in all its glory.

Alongside a flotilla of ducklings…


and – just visible – a black cap hunting insects on the bridging willow

The rest of the garden is bursting with colour and blossom; hard to distinguish a ‘decorative’ from a ‘pretty’ or a ‘filler’ – to use John Brookes’ categories. I think they all look very special…


Monday 8 June

The blue and white bed is gleaming with the most beautiful flowers and leaf shapes; all cheek by jowl in this busy moment in the season. It’s hard to know where to start

Eryngiums, clematis, delphiniums and campanula set against each other, and


gorgeous white roses against the bank’s campanulas in the gathering dusk. With every day the balance changes, as imperceptibly the nigellas and campanulas fade

Tuesday 9 June

This week the garden has peaked – a little early, given we have another 10 days before summer officially arrives. The density of plants is astonishing, and the colours are intense. The pink, grey and burgundy bed has filled out with new and old favourites….

and below (left) the contorted red hazel (Corylus Red Majestic) makes the cut, while

the Rosa Rubrafolia with its glaucous leaves finally produces its delicate single flowers. The little rose (Flower Carpet) takes centre stage (below). The golden box  (below) may be in the wrong coloured flower bed – but it certainly earns its keep !


Wednesday 10 June

The gaps in the shouty yellow and orange beds – a consequence of the sudden lock-down and closed garden centres – are slowly filling up as the Californian poppy and nasturtium seedlings develop.  They have needed a lot of talking to…. and watering ! Meanwhile Rosa Absolutely Fabulous is exactly that – fabulous!

The Dahlia David Howard (below left)  has a little way to go yet – its blooms will emerge just as the fabulous roses finish their first flush – a good if accidental example of succession planting! In the meantime we can at least enjoy the striking  foliage as it rapidly makes height.

On the right (above) is Dahlia Bishop of Monmouth, with its bronze-tinged foliage is tucked at the back of the pink, grey, burgundy bed, making the same rapid progress


And Rosa World Peace is starting all over again!

Thursday 11 June


The garden is breath-taking in the early light, and growing more beautiful every day but there are still some hidden gems which aren’t centre stage


In fact, they are out of view at the less glamorous north side of the house with only a siphoning system for company… note the hose-pipe from the bathroom

and around the garden, often tucked out of sight are any number of surprises

A flower from the purple sage; eryngium Miss Wilmott’s Ghost ( a wonderful name for a spectacular self seeder ! In the dusk it is ethereal!) and clematis Princess Diana, not to mention the greenhouse occupants – tomatoes and cosmos


and some flowers that simply can’t stop ‘doing’

and thistles…


and honeysuckles…


that can’t stop growing!

Friday 12 June – James’ birthday but rain is forecast…

So the socially-distanced family lunch in the garden is postponed. But after such a dry spring a gardener shouldn’t complain – especially when there are two allotments gasping for water. Below is mission control, along with other essential apparatus.



I have worked allotment 49 on Barlow’s lane for 13 years. It is delightful five minute walk over a nearby footbridge and past Rookesbury Lakes (formerly a trout farm but now best known for its otters – of which more next week!). The shed itself was a gift from colleagues and parents when I retired In 2014, and within it my office name- plate presented to me by the maintenance department on the day I left.


Ralph insisted I used it on the shed; I mounted it on the inside as a little joke, and as a reminder to me that no-one is indispensable, and nothing stands still. Hilarious!

Clockwise from the top left: autumn raspberries, and red-currants behind; Onions almost ready for harvesting; a little drill of fennel; potatoes (planted in haste at 07.30 in the morning after lock-down, in case the allotments closed); the fruit cage and watering system (ie a hosepipe) and donated brassicas – broccoli and cabbage.

Saturday 13 June – and a socially-distanced family lunch

Appreciation of gardens has massively grown during this extraordinary spring, and in the last few days have enabled so many re-unions of friends and family (but no more than six at a time of course…) We were thrilled to have James and Lucy, Ernest, Olive and Winnie the Pooh come for James’ birthday lunch.

It has been more three months absence, and the children as well as Poo Bear and the adults relished the change and company. Our garden parasol (purchased the day after the really hot weather broke!) – and the building bricks – were finally put to use.


Spoiler alert: next week’s final instalment of Andover Garden Watch will wrap up spring 2020 with special appearances of some of our rarest visitors… hedgehogs, king fishers, herons, the odd fox, and of course the star performers – the otters.

And preview the glories of a summer still to come – the show-stopping stars of the shouty yellow and orange beds, and the pure brilliance of the reds….

Don’t miss it!

One thought on “Week 12: Andover Garden Watch 2020 – a very special spring

  1. Ciao Janet! Stai bene?
    Stunning photos ! You didn’t take those with a Brownie box camera ! The gardens look absolutely amazing.
    Yes, family meet-ups, albeit restricted, have been wonderful after all this time.
    Stay well, Paul


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