The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Flowers from the garden: August

august flowersThis bunch has got us talking. A lot. It’s August and one would expect a vase of summery flowers. But we have chosen a combination that refuses to be photographed and shared with the world. I am pulling my hair out having taken at least twenty shots of the beast and every one is out of focus. The image shown here is just a detail but it gives you a sense of the overall effect.

We have a smoke tree in the garden. Danny thinks it’s called a flame tree. Who am I to disabuse him? So that’s how we refer to it now (sometimes it’s easier, in the end). Its Latin name is Cotinus Coggygria. Ours was planted fifteen years ago and now dominates the right hand side of the main herbaceous border. It overshadows special plants so last year I made enquiries about having the Cotinus professionally pruned.
“We will come in the spring. The drawback is that you will not have smoke that year.”
“No!” Danny was adamant. “We must have flame. Do not engage these specialists.”

Danny is a very laid back sort of guy. If he plonks his well shod foot down I generally consider his suggestion. We didn’t engage the specialists but throughout this summer I have been snipping at Cotinus C. This weekend I got up early, grabbed the loppers and gave her a quick short back and sides. I know that this is entirely the wrong time of year to be doing this but she was dominating the autumn flowering perennials and just had to be brought into line.

The lopped branches looked so pretty lying on the lawn that I collected the ends for the backdrop to our vase of flowers. I added two roses: Iceberg, no scent really but great in a north border, and Thisbe. This is out of shot but deserves a mention. Thisbe was the name of my first dog who looked after me so well from the age of 11 to 22. The bunch also stars a variegated viburnum that has been flowering on and off since the Spring.

For the past eight months I have not bought flowers for the house and found flowers and leaves in our garden instead. This self denial has been hard. However our arrangements have given us so much pleasure and I have learned to look in the garden for every possibility. I enjoy the garden far more as a result.

This bunch definitely has a Victorian funeral parlour touch. But the softness of the ‘smoke’ has enchanted us – just visible, bottom left hand corner.


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3 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Yes, Pat, Iceberg is a beautiful rose and will grow on a north border which is handy. Ours is growing under trees so does not do very well but has clearly enjoyed the rain this year.

    Yes, Kate(uk),we have found lots of our plants are flowering on and off, way beyond their season and some are clearly not liking the changeable weather at all.

    All our clematis are thriving, the best year that I can remember. They do love lots of rain

  2. Kate(uk)

    Iceberg is a lovely rose. Have you found things flowering at odd times this year? Some of the plants in my garden are as confused by the weather as I am and are flowering at very unexpected times and some, not at all, dahlias have been reluctant to do anything- until this past week of sunshine!

  3. Ohhh what beautiful roses!!!!!

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