Granny’s bonnets and other delights

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.