Plants along front walk: orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) in bloom; blue Ceanothus blooming in background

In My Garden

I recently rediscovered a book I have no memory of buying. As you can see from the price stickers in the photo, it was a bargain. Especially considering what a fun read it’s been.

My copy of In My Garden by Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd was an eminent British gardener (“horticulturist, ” as he called himself) and writer on gardening. This book is a collection of his essays first published in Country Life between 1964 and 1993. They are arranged by month, a practice that makes sense considering that gardening is an activity governed by the seasons.

Reading the thoughts of this longtime expert gardener who was also a good writer was an informative delight. I must have read this book whenever it was I bought it, but I somehow forgot doing so. That made this re-reading a fresh experience.

Gardening was both passion and profession for Lloyd. He was opinionated, but spoke from knowledge and experience. His garden at Great Dixter was open to the public, which led to opinions about the habits of garden visitors. And on the habits of plants, from trees to tiny alpines. Dogs in the garden. Thefts of plants and cuttings, including confessions of long-ago heists perpetrated by Mr. Lloyd and his mother and fellow gardeners. His thoughts on the sound of certain words — “cultivar” (ugly) or “inflorescence” (delightful). The virtues of rough grass, which made me think I’m on to something with my Boulevard Project. The death of a plant as an opportunity for something new to be added. The essays cover a dizzying variety of garden-related topics, from plant propagation to cooking.

Great Dixter Garden is now managed by a charitable trust as a biodiversity and educational centre and is open to visitors. Its official website may be found here.

As well as enjoying Mr. Lloyd’s thoughts on gardening, I’ve been bustling about in my own patch, so thought it was okay to borrow his book’s title for this post. Deadheading continues, as well as staking, snipping, weeding, lugging watering cans, and fretting about when to activate the soaker hoses and sprinklers.

I can’t really complain about the weather so far this season. We haven’t had unseasonable cold or heat, and there was adequate rainfall from April through June. Today (June 27th), as I write this, however, we have dull clouds and a blustery wind, but without rain. My least favourite kind of weather, since the wind batters plants and tugs on them and dries out the soil. And it’s unpleasant to be in the garden with flying debris whizzing by as branches clash and clank overhead. (Okay, I’m complaining after all, but whining about the weather is a gardener’s prerogative.)

Update: today (June 28th) has been a complete contrast — sunny and clear with a little breeze. And we had a few millimetres of rain overnight; not enough to make much difference, but it was nice to hear its patter on the leaves. Summer rain here is a blessing.

Since this is a Garden post, a few photos are obligatory. About the middle of June I ran around trying to get decent close-ups of flowers. Being a lazy photographer, I didn’t work too hard at it, and my camera isn’t intended for macro work. These are the best of a dubious lot.

Ladybug on rue flower
Ladybug beetle on rue flower
Single flower of Geranium "Ann Folkard" with grey foliage in background
Flower of Geranium “Ann Folkard” with grey foliage of Rose Campion (Silene coronaria, formerly Lychnis coronaria) in the background.
Single flower of orange California poppy Eschscholzia californica
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), one of the best North American native plants for dry, sunny gardens. This is its normal colour.
Pink and cream California poppies Eschscholzia californica
Cream and pink California poppies, results of a packet of seeds of a type called “Thai Silks” I scattered around years ago.
Close-up of white mullein (Verbascum chaixii 'Album' with Hosta "Stained Glass" in background
Close-up of a white form of mullein (Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’). Hosta “Stained Glass” in the fuzzy background.

My patch of garden is not comparable to the size, sophistication, and magnificence of the one at Great Dixter, but all gardens and gardeners have something in common.

47 comments

    1. Thank you! It should be easy to find seeds, I would think. These poppies grow well anywhere there is full sun, even in dry places with poor soil. They have perennial tendencies in places where winters are relatively warm, but can be grown as annuals elsewhere. And they seed around freely.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. The original seeds produced a few plants with dark orange-brown flowers and one plant that had yellow double flowers. I’ve never seen those types again, but I get shades of cream and pale pink as well as different shades of orange. The colour range varies from year to year.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I haven’t been to Great Dixter, but it sounds like just the sort of place I enjoy visiting – enjoyed visiting in pre Covid days! – My tiny plot has been battered by the wind, but I always pretend it’s one of those great gardens when I’m pottering around.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s always something that looks better than expected and balances off the disappointments. I would love to take a tour of Britain’s great gardens. Maybe someday before I get too feeble to totter around.

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  2. I always love your gardening posts, and I think your photos turned out great! Being from Colorado, I was wondering if columbines grow up where you live and do you have any?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, columbines do grow here. I have some of those dark purple “granny’s bonnet” types, but also one plant of a long-spurred type and a red and yellow one that’s a native plant here. I’ve seen those growing wild in natural areas nearby.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It didn’t take 1.21 gigawatts to power up Lloyd’s garden did it? Hmm.
    I do suppose that if you have a photograph of a historic garden one could recreate it and then relive the past. Are Brits the preeminent gardeners? Were/are there other cultures that celebrate the garden more?

    ~~~
    I’m “trying” to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m afraid it’s way too full of blather for my taste. TFoM is much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lloyd’s garden was a pretty old one, designed in the early 20th century. I think it mostly ran on human muscle power, and probably still does. Brits regard gardening as a sport, complete with competitions (flower shows), but they are pretty good at it, by all accounts. Other cultures? The Chinese and Japanese have an ancient gardening tradition and aesthetic. I’m happy when my place looks good, whether it’s by accident or design.

      I know I read Dracula some years ago but my memories are all mixed up with images from the various movie versions I’ve seen. And I’m glad you think TFoM is better! (In fact, I’m chuffed!)

      Liked by 1 person

              1. It is a very English humour of the turn of the 19th/20th century but is still fresh.
                Basically three young fellows decide to take a boating trip up the Thames, there are many comic misadventures, but also along with a vividly colourful imagining of the signing of the Magna Carta and a very poignant observation on finding the body of a suicide. A rich mix.
                I have an audio version by a very skilled actor and it never grows old.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chuck. Yes, it does take a lot of work, or at least a lot of attention. Mostly watering all those pots and snipping off faded flowers right now. But I get enough quiet thrills from the effect that it’s worthwhile. The African violet, unfortunately, has succumbed. Too bad, since it was about 30 years old. Thanks for thinking of it. Maybe plants die of old age. I wish I had started another one from a leaf cutting while it was healthy, though.

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      1. I suppose if messing around in the garden was actually work, you’d not be doing it .I miss my garden & yard, somewhat. But mowing the yard was work and I don’t miss that one bit. And the mosquitoes. Sorry to hear about your violet. I view houseplants as members of the family.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No mosquitoes here (really!), and my bits of lawn are small enough that mowing them isn’t a lot of work. The hardest jobs here are pruning where a ladder is needed and moving compost (and its components) around

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    1. It is too bad, since it actually looks pretty good, even now. We’ve had just enough rain and no really hot weather as yet. The big yellow lilies have come into bloom and are wafting perfume all over the place. It will all be here next year, though!

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