Granny’s bonnets and other delights

Granny’s bonnets, columbine, cock’s foot, culverwort and pigeon flower are just a few of the common names for Aquilegia vulgaris. Pink ones, all-shades-of-purple ones, some bi-coloured ones, it has self-seeded all over our garden without so much as a by-your-leave but it is most welcome.

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Chives coming into flower and Nigella buds with frothy foliage. Nigella has also seeded all over the garden and made herself at home. I like that.
The chives I planted last year are coming into flower next to some Nigella damascena buds with their feathery foliage. Also known as love-in-a-mist, chase-the-devil, Jack in the green and St Catherine’s flower, this is another one who’s spread all over the garden and made herself at home. I like that.


These fiery wallflowers were looking rather sorry for themselves a few weeks back but have perked up with the warmer weather and late spring rain.
These fiery wallflowers were looking rather sorry for themselves a few weeks back but have perked up with the warmer weather and late spring rain.
Erigeron karvinskianus (fleabane) – our front steps are disappearing under a froth of this delightful daisy. The longer stems are great for cutting and we’re slowly spreading it around the garden by pulling chunks off, potting them up until they root, then transplanting to where we want it. It’s such a hardy, hard-working pretty plant.


Even before my passion for plants and gardening was kindled, I could appreciate the loveliness of certain types of garden. Not the manicured, parks-planting type of garden but those with a romantic, slightly wild and natural style. Ones with billowing clouds of frothy flowers, dainty blooms growing in cracks in paving, and gardens that felt abundant and generous, and full of soul. When I caught the gardening bug, I dreamed that one day I’d create such a garden. Pottering about outside yesterday in the late afternoon sunshine, I had a little moment as I realised that it’s happening. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I had a lump in my throat. My dream garden is emerging. All the hard labour and hours spent digging, on our hands and knees, shifting rocks and soil, rebuilding walls, pulling out brambles, cutting back overgrown hedges – it’s all totally worth it and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

The King’s Fund published a report earlier in the week on the health benefits of gardens and gardening. It contains a plethora of evidence on how the activity of gardening and being in gardens can help combat depression, anxiety and stress, be of benefit when tackling several physical conditions and help boost confidence and self-esteem. I suspect that every gardener already knows this but there you have it. Gardening is most definitely good for you. It’s official.

Wishing you a super-duper weekend. My middle child is off on his bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award practice expedition first thing in the morning – the forecast is for heavy rain tomorrow night (oh dear) – and my eldest will be revising for his first full week of exams next week (ouch). We’ll be spending as much time as possible in the garden.


28 thoughts on “Granny’s bonnets and other delights

  1. Hi Sam, I too dream of a garden like yours!! Once or twice, I’ve had a glimpse of being almost there, and it is a fantastic feeling, but we have years to go to have a mature garden.
    I love self-seeding plants although I do love moving them about the place too.
    Best of luck next week,


  2. Oh wow, your garden is looking absolutely gorgeous. Hard work always pays off, but it does take a bit of hard work doesn’t it. As you say though, there are other benefits as well as the beautiful garden. Mine are off camping as well this weekend. It started raining heavily about an hour ago. Might stop by Sunday I think… Good luck to your middle boy with the practice DofE walk and good luck to your eldest with his exam revision. My eldest tells me he is not planning any revision in the week before his Year 7 exams. Sigh. I’m wishing you a good weekend, although I fear neither of us will be spending much of it in the garden judging by the forecast. It’s a shame, I have a long garden “to-do” list.CJ xx


    1. You were right – not much time was spent in the garden sadly. Hey ho. Hope your lot had fun camping. The DofE went well, thank you, although he was exhausted after hardly any sleep due to a stormy night. He came home had a bath and went to bed. At 2pm!


  3. It must have been a wonderful moment when you realized that you had created what you had dreamed about. Well, a garden’s never fully created, of course, but you know what I mean. Everyone who loves to garden knows instinctively that it’s good for you, don’t you think? I was with some women recently who were talking about how they found it difficult to live in the moment or to meditate. I find that gardening is a pure, effortless kind of meditation–everything else fades from my mind and I am totally in the present. It’s rather addictive, actually.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you mean. And I agree with you about the meditative qualities of it. I certainly notice the difference when I haven’t had time to be outdoors for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I would rather like to say that I have a love for gardening – but I don’t. Just the love for enjoying beautiful gardens, like yours! Maybe one day. I am particularly fond of the glorious daisies on your steps, they make me smile. I am not surprised that gardening and being in the garden is good for soul and body. People spend too much time stuck indoors. I am out as much as I can and I am glad the dog gives me an excuse to be outside. The DoE expedition is the best part of all the DoE stuff according to my son who has completed the expedition and the volunteering but can’t possibly think of a new skill to engage with, and can’t be bothered with sports either. Wishing your daughter good luck with her exams. Here we are four down, three to go. Have a lovely weekend. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think your son is right about DofE and my eldest son agrees. He struggled with the new skill. My middle son is meant to be helping a local small-holder with his ponies and goats but hasn’t been for months… Tut tut. Hope ‘your’ remaining exams go well – over the halfway mark!


  5. Probably shouldn’t have read this post today, just two weeks before I hand over the keys, say goodbye to my cottage garden twenty-some years in the making. It’s been a wonderful privilege guiding its growth and I can only hope its new owners might appreciate it, even care for it, perhaps be seduced by it into getting their hands dirty, becoming gardeners themselves. Meanwhile, I’m off to an Open House this afternoon, looking at an urban condo (flat) that has a huge private patio. Crossing my fingers ours might be the succesful bid in this horridly overheated Vancouver market. I do hope to continue being some kind of gardener, even if only in pots… Yours looks quite wonderful and I do hope you’ll keep sharing photos so that I can be an armchair gardener until I’m a dirt-under-the-fingernails one again.


    1. Gosh, Frances. I can relate a little to what you’re going through – we left a garden of 10 years when we moved here and that was hard enough (I didn’t mind about the house). The people we bought this house from had lived here for 25 years and the lady loved the garden. I think she found moving exceedingly hard. Our gardens give us great pleasure and solace, for which we can be grateful, then hand them on to someone else. I hope you will have more gardens to love in the future and, in the meantime, I’m delighted that you enjoy seeing pictures of mine. Best of luck with the house-buying shenanigans.


  6. Granny’s Bonnets is such a great name for Aquilegia. I’m partial to the red and yellow Aquilegia canadensis myself. I also gravitate to gardens that are abundant and generous – gardens that are like a warm hug. Great Dixter or the Lurie Garden is my ideal. Congratulations in realizing your dream.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gorgeous photos Sam. I identify very strongly with your favorite garden. I also love them wild and a little ramshackle. I’m so pleased you are seeing happy results after all the hard work you’ve put in. Xx


  8. hope the expedition went well. buying a new rucksac for youngest’s bronze trip is on my list, he managed to destroy his completely on the practise……………
    fingers crossed for the exams too x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our children are using the same Karrimor rucksack my husband took trekking in Nepal 18 years ago! It’s a bit tatty but still going strong.


  9. Grannies Bonnets and Fleabane are the sort of garden flowers that make me smile when I see them. I have lost most of my Grannies Bonnets due to Downy Mildew, which was very disappointing. I hope to reintroduce them next year raising new ones from seed this autumn.


  10. Such a lovely post.
    I couldn’t agree more about them benefits of gardening – although I’m still aching after rather throwing myself at the weeding on Sunday after 10 days away! Consequently mental health A*, physical more of a low C!


  11. I had that ‘lump in throat’ feeling a few weeks ago! Everything looked beautiful, with little input from me – it was just nature doing its thing. Now, however, I’m back from Chelsea and I am feeling a little less satisfied! Your garden looks lovely, Sam. x


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