The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Flowers from the garden: May 2008

Rosa banksiae and cornflowersI used to leave this post until the end of each month, hoping that there will be more plants in flower. Then I would cram as many different flowers as I could find into a vase. A large mixed bunch is a joy but sometimes a simple combination just works well. When I saw my favourite rose coming into flower and the cornflowers beneath it, I just had to pick them both. A perfect summery pairing.

Our Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ has hovered on the verge of flowering since late January. May is the month when it is at its best and should burst into a wonderful wave of frothy flowers. If the spring is too warm she flutters about on the edge of flowering for weeks, and the final display is a hiccupy affair. This old rose is not a repeat flowerer. She just sings her aria once a year. So the cold snaps last month were welcomed by me. She was held in check and has waited in the wings to make a dazzling appearance this week.

And what a song. The performance always moves me. The display is as lush and extravagant as the flower heads are soft and tender. They cry out to be touched and smelt. The scent is the gentlest waft of violets for those with an acute sense of smell.

This rose is a must for any gardener who loves a dramatic annual visit from an old friend and has a long sunny wall. And there’s the rub. Left to its own devices this rose can scramble for thirty feet or more. The largest noted version of this rose was planted in Tombstone, Arizona. The trunk has a circumference of 12 feet and the spread of the rose covers 8.000 square feet. Ours is trimmed after flowering and again in late July. It flowers more profusely if cut back. As the flowers grow on new wood, don’t trim it after July.

Ours has not taken over. After fifteen years the circumference of the trunk is a mere four inches. It circles the south west facing sitting room window and has scrambled into the winter flowering honeysuckle, forming a natural mini porch roof over our front door. The guys in Tombstone must have let it rip for untold years.

Perennial Cornflowers (Centaurea montana) are gradually self seeding at the front of the cottage. They can tolerate drought and hate to be waterlogged. I love the combination of yellow and blue flowers. As Danny said this evening,
“Blue skies and cornfields.”

Let’s hope that we have plenty of both this year.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pamela

    I love the yellow and blue combination.

    We do have day lilies in the garden and I™m very fond of them. I haven™t heard of princess lilies. I™m going to the garden centre this afternoon with my mum “ I™ll have a look for them there! Thanks.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    It™s a brilliant rose and as it keeps it™s colour in the winter you don™t have a skeleton draped around the front door!

    Hi Moonroot

    I™d love to see the Tombstone rose too.

    Hi Sylvie

    Thanks for the inspiration. Cornflowers and daisies “ happy, sunny flowers.

  2. Sylvie

    Cornflowers are one of my favourites. I used to pick them for my mum in the fields around the village I grew up in in Germany. Adding a few large daisies and some grasses would make the perfect bunch.

  3. moonroot

    That Tombstone rose sounds amazing – I would love to see it. Not sure I’d like it in the garden, though…

  4. Kate(uk)

    I think you may just have solved my ‘what to grow up my sunny south wall near the front door that won’t mind being pruned into shape” dilemma…

  5. Pamela

    That blue and yellow combination is such a provencale thing – as you had obviously noticed from your choice of tablecloth under the flowers – and the warmth and light we are currently experiencing are also reminiscent of that area. Do you have lillies in your garden? I love the exuberance and wild abandon of Day lillies, a bit like a long-lasting outdoor version of the amarylis. Mine were contained in pots in my last garden, as I knew it was only a temporary home for me, and now reside at my Mum’s, mostly now set free to spread in the borders. However if you want cut flowers then princess lillies seem to flower from early spring until late summer producing loads of much more delicate flowers. But best of all is that they come up and do their thing year after year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,274,860 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2024 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder

Skip to toolbar