Month: July 2014

July Posy

  Country Cottage Garden Meets the Coast

I try to have a theme in mind when I pick my Posy of the Month. This month I have had a dilemma. My front garden is full of coastal plants which remind me of the seaside and I love them. The back garden is full of quintessentially English cottage garden flowers and I love them just as much! So for my July images I have chosen two themes – coastal and cottage garden.

Coastal Posy for July

Seaside HuesOh I do like to be beside the Seaside!

At the front of our bungalow we had an area of practical, but unimaginative stones. This part of the garden is a challenge. In the Winter it gets water logged and grass just turns to moss. In the Summer it catches the sun and bakes dry. Mr Smiles had decided sensible stones was the answer to the problem. I thought this area was a bit boring, but didn’t want to undo the hard work already put in by laying a waterproof membrane and then putting the stones down. So I have experimented with seaside alpines. It was suggested they wouldn’t grow as there was no dirt. I have been collecting pebbles, shells and driftwood whenever we go on holiday to the coast. I simply made holes amongst the pebbles with a trowel and shoved the alpines in.  They grew magnificently!  Along side the alpines I have large pots in seaside colours of cobalt blue, grey and white which contain plants which remind me of holidays. I have a tree fern, eucalyptus, various grasses and an olive tree in these pots. I overwinter them in the greenhouse with horticultural fleece.This month it has been my brilliant blue Agapanthus and white Hydrangea which have been the highlight of the front garden. I love these plants. They remind me of happy holidays in Cornwall. For my July Posy  I decided to take photos outside amongst the seaside pebbles and shells. I used blue and cream MDF backing boards and even bought an ornamental boat to add to the sea-side effect. The neighbours must have been amused! As a vase I used a glass water bottle which reminded me of nautical life buoys. I must admit the neck was a bit narrow to display the blooms to their full advantage.

Agapanthus BluesCoastal BluesAgapanthus Posy

Agapanthus Posy

Simply BlueAgapanthus

White Agapanthus















Seaside PosyAnother favourite flower is the Hydrangea. You either love them or hate them! One of my friends described Hydrangeas as `old lady blooms in either garrish overly-bright colours or rather dusky faded hues!’ I love them! I love their big, blowsy, look-at-me blooms. I also associate them with happy holidays by the coast.

I have five different varieties of  Hydrangea. My white Hydrangea macrophylla is called The Bride. The Bride has pure white flowers which gradually take a pale pink blush. It differs from most other Hydrangeas as it is from the Endless Summer Collection which produce flowers on old and new wood. I have made the mistake of pruning my others in the Autumn and then they do not bloom the following year!

Endless Summer - The Bride

Backlit Bride

Macrophylla Hydrangeas can be either mopheads or lacecaps and are invaluable for poor soils, exposed positions and by the sea.. Mopheads are often blue, pink or purple and have big, puffy balls of flowers.

Hydrangea macrophyllaKaleidoscope Colours


Some hydrangeas have the ability to change the colour of the flowers. This colour change is due to the soil PH and aluminium availability. Those with blue or pink flowers tend to be blue in acid soil conditions (high available aluminium levels), mauve in acid to neutral soil conditions, and pink in alkaline conditions. To get the best flower colour, choose cultivars that give the best colours for the pH in question. White flowers remain white regardless of soil pH.

Hydrangea macrophyllaHydrangea macrophyllaHydrangea macrophylla

It is a good idea to water hydrangeas with rainwater, since mains hard water can affect the flower colour, turning blue flowers mauve or pink. Cultivars with blue flowers can be kept blue by growing the plants in acidic soil (pH 4.5-5).   To keep hydrangeas reliably blue you can use ‘hydrangea blueing compounds’. These compounds contain aluminium sulphate. If the soil is very alkaline or if there is any obvious chalk in the soil, this treatment will not work, but can be used for container-grown plants. If you want to enhance red or pink flowers, apply a dressing of ground limestone or chalk in winter. Ok that’s the theory covered! In practice I just plonk mine in and wait and see what happens! I actually like the kaleidoscope colours of blue, lilac and pink on the same bush, so have given up worrying about fancy compounds and I go with the flow…

Lacecaps are similar to Mopheads.The shape of the blooms are flatter and more refined. The little buds in the centre are the fertile flowers  and the large showy blossoms around the outer edge are sterile.


I also have a plant called Pinky-Winky which is a Hydrangea paniculata. Paniculata blooms are panicle or cone shaped rather than ball-like.

The other type of Hydrangea I have is a climber – Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. It will climb like a vine along a wall or fence clinging by aerial roots. The white lace-cap like flower-heads appear in Spring and Early Summer. 

Country Cottage Posy for July

Vintage Vase

The back-garden has been full of traditional country cottage flowers in July. I am very proud of my Sweet Peas which I grew from seed and which smell heavenly. Hence why I needed to create a different Posy to the Coastal one. Somehow Sweet Peas, Agapanthus and Hydrangeas don’t work together in a Posy! The Sweet Peas are too dainty to go with the big, boisterous mophead Hydrangea flowers. The Agapanthus blooms are too tall and architectural to work with them in an arrangement.

Simply SweetpeasPinks and Purples

The Sweet Peas are from Sarah Raven’s Highly Scented Sweet Pea Collection and include Matucana and Lord Nelson. Matucana has lovely bi-colour flowers in crimson and purple with spectacular scent. Lord Nelson has wonderful, highly-scented, old-fashioned, purple-navy flowers. 

Highly Scented


I also have a magenta pink perennial Sweet Pea plant which grows rampantly over an obelisk when the flowers are continually picked. The blooms don’t really smell of much, but I use them to bulk up arrangements of the annual variety.  The silver vases are a family heirloom dating from the early 19th Century. I imagine they may have been a wedding present given to my Great, Grandparents. I recently got one of the vases repaired and was looking for an opportunity to use them in my Posy of the Month Challenge. 

Perennial Sweet PeaPerennial Sweet Pea


Apart from the Sweet Peas the back garden is full of stately Hollyhocks and other cottage garden favourites.

Hollyhock BeeHollyhock Pink

Hollyhock Pink








Hollyhock Pink







Echinops BluesEchinops BluesBuddleia Butterfly


So here we have July’s Mosaic.

I hope you have enjoyed a trip to my Country Cottage style garden with inspiration from the sea-side!

July Mosaic

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June Posy

June Posy

Our June garden has seen roses in abundance. Big, blowsy garden roses are my favourite flowers. In fact I have 20 different roses and know virtually all of them by name! I loved creating June’s Posy. I had fun creating coloured MDF backing boards with tester paint pots, wrapping paper and sheet music. (We have some very interesting paint patterns on the grass now!) June PosyJune Posy

June PosyJune Posy

Take time to Smell the Roses!

Smiles (korgohowa)

Smiles Rose

When I saw this rose `Smiles’ by Mattocks I had to buy her as my surname is Smiles! However I wasn’t sure…The label describes the rose as `a novel cheery rose that will make you Smile! A repeat flowering Floribunda with yellow blooms tinged cerise pink. The pink tints are intensified as the weather get sunnier, providing an ever changing display from June to October.’ The thing is I don’t like dark, garish flowers and the buds are a bit garish…

Smiles Rosebud

Smiles Rose





However as June progressed and the blooms began to fade my Smiles rose became a delightful frilly number and lost her garish vibrancy. I like her now!

Smiles Rose

Smiles Rose is a Floribunda. The word `Floribunda’ means lots of flowers. They were first produced in the 1920s and they can bloom continually throughout Summer into Autumn. The flowers are produced in large clusters on strong, upright stems, rather than as individual blooms like the Hybrid Teas.

Tea Clipper (Ausrover) 


Tea Clipper is one of my favourite roses by David Austin Roses. I bought her after getting back from visiting the the tea picking districts of Sri Lanka on honeymoon. As I had peachy apricot flowers in my bouquet and the rose was called Tea Clipper it seemed appropriate.  The blooms are a rich apricot colour in an informal rosette shape and nicely quartered. Tea Clipper is a large informal shrub with its flowers dancing on the end of each branch. The fragrance is a mix of Tea, myrrh and citrus.

Tea ClipperTea ClipperTea ClipperTea Clipper

Shining Light (Cocshimmer) 

Shining Light

Shining Light was given an ultimatum last year – `Bloom, or you’ll be hoiked out of the garden!’ I am pleased to say my stern words (or the weather) worked and Shining Light has been blooming magnificently this June! This rose is known as a Patio Rose, a compact Floribunda. Shining Light has blooms in a bright golden, apricot colour and a very light fragrance.

Shining Light

Sutter’s Gold

Sutter's Gold

Sutter’s Gold is a Hybrid Tea Rose which was introduced in 1950. The Hybrid Tea rose is the archetypal rose. Pointed buds open to double, high centred flowers with gently unfurling petals. Large, individual flowers are carried on strong stems. The Hybrid Tea is a cross between a Tea Rose and a repeat-flowering Hybrid Perpetual rose. My Grandma Betty had a Sutter’s Gold rose in her garden and her mother Ethel grew this rose in her garden too. My love of roses is obviously inherited! I asked my Uncle to buy me Sutter’s Gold as a gift in memory of my Gran.  I have photos of both my Grandma and my Great Grandmother showing off their garden roses. It’s a shame I don’t have a photo of my mum with her roses as I know she had a climbing rose growing over an arch when I was growing up.

Generations of Rose Lovers

Ethel's Rose GardenBetty's Rose GardenPatsy's Rose Garden

Crocus Rose (Ausquest)

Crocus Rose

Crocus Rose is an English rose bred by David Austin. The English roses are modern Shrub roses with the charm of old-fashioned roses. They are renowned for the beauty of their flowers and their fragrance. Crocus Rose has cupped, rosette-shaped apricot cream flowers which become paler with age. The outer petals reflex as the flower matures. She has a light tea rose scent. Crocus Rose was the star of the show in my Posy this month.

Crocus Rose

White Star (Harquill)

White Star

I bought White Star from the Malvern Show a couple of years ago. White Star is a short climber which is being trained along the trellis. She has semi-double blooms of pure unfading white with a deep golden eye. White Star

Winchester Cathedral (Auscat) 

Winchester Cathedral

I am aiming to create a peaceful garden at the front of our house with soft pinks, lilacs and whites. I have selected roses specifically with this soft colour palette in mind. Winchester Cathedral is a white English Rose bred by David Austin. She has typical Old Rose rosette formation with a light Old Rose fragrance with a hint of honey and almond. I must admit Winchester Cathedral hasn’t bloomed as freely as some of my other roses this year although David Austin has promised a mass of flowers!

Winchester Cathedral

William and Catherine (Ausrapper)

William & Catherine

William & Catherine Rose was named to celebrate the Royal Wedding in 2011. This is another creamy white David Austin rose in my front garden. The blooms have the classic shallow cup shape and the very full petalled form of many of the Old Roses. The fragrance is of myrrh. William & Catherine has been blooming very freely this year.

William & Catherine

Open Arms (Chewpixel)

Open Arms

Open Arms is one of my favourites. She is a delicate repeat flowering rambler. Ramblers are ideal for unsightly buildings, high walls or scrambling up trees and through hedges.  Open Arms has been blooming continually throughout June and looks like she will go on and on flowering through my trellis.  She has soft peach buds which open in large clusters of pink blossom with attractive yellow stamens. The flowers remind me of the wild roses you find dotted in the hedgerows.

Open Arms

Strawberry Hill (Ausrimini)

Strawberry Hill

Strawberry Hill also graces my peaceful front garden. She has pure rose-pink cupped rosette flowers which fade to pale pink. The scent is of myrrh with a hint of lemon. The bees seem to like her! Strawberry HillStrawberry Hill

The Generous Gardener (Ausdrawn)

The Generous Gardener

The Generous Gardener has soft pink flowers fading to almost white. The flowers are cup shaped and when fully open expose their stamens. She has a delicate fragrance of Old Rose, Musk and myrrh.  I have two of this variety of rose – one is grown as an arching shrub and one as a short climber rambling through other shrubs.

The Generous Gardener

The Generous Gardener

The Generous Gardener

Pretty Pink Rose

Pretty Pink Rose

When I bought this pretty pink rose a few years ago she was labelled `Peace’. However I am beginning to think the label was wrong as the Peace roses I have seen are classic Hybrid Tea roses with lemon yellow flowers flushed with pink. My rose is pure pink and is a delicate little number! Any suggestions would be welcome as I know most of my roses by name!

Pretty Pink RosePretty Pink RosePretty Pink Rose

Harlow Carr (Aushouse)

Harlow Carr

Harlow Carr has small, almost minature cupped pink flowers. I grow her as a low growing shrub next to lavender bushes which works well together She has a strong old rose fragrance.

Harlow CarrHarlow Carr

Mum in a Million 

Mum in a Million

I bought this rose simply to remind me of my mum! Most of my roses were bought because of their colour, shape or scent. This one was bought for the name.    She is a medium pink Hybrid Tea. She does need to buck her ideas up a bit though as I have only had two blooms so far this year!

Boscobel (Auscousin)


I fell in love with the beautiful rich salmon coloured flowers of Boscobel at Chelsea Flower Show last year. As you’ve probably noticed most of my roses are soft delicate pastel peaches and pinks rather than vibrant reds. I know red roses are mean to represent love, but I’d much rather be given creamy yellow or peach roses! I do like the striking colour of Boscobel though!


June’s Mosiac is a celebration of all my beautiful roses. Do let me know which is your favourite!

June Mosaic