The International Steam Pages

Tua Pek Kong Rules, the Mitcheldean Garden 2019
June - The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba 

This page is part of a series of garden blogs from 2019. Click here for the index.

As we visit various National Trust mansions, time after time we are told of the elaborate preparations made in advance of a royal visitation; in our case fortunately, it's just for my daughter coming over from New Zealand and dropping by for three days. Nevertheless, we have tried to get the garden looking good, the sort of thing we would have done had there been an 'Open Garden' event in the village like the 2017 one which we had anticipated for this month but never happened. I've split the month into two, with the non-plants stuff in the other half.

It's been an interesting year for wildlife and I'm not talking about the cat. A few weeks back, as I opened the curtains of the French windows, a young fox walked past on the patio and today, Yuehong summoned me to chase a young (roe) deer out of the garden. Fortunately it seems it had arrived by accident and had not been attracted by thoughts of a meal with a difference. So, as I approached, it ran to the top and must have cleared the considerable fence with ease as it had vanished.

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Reversing last month's direction and starting from the bottom, the camelias, lilacs and rhododendrons have all finished and the lupins and perennial geraniums (Johnson Blue) are simply fabulous.

Interesting times on the patio, where we have had to sink Yuehong's Chinese pot in an attempt to secure the sedge. It had drifted clear of the rock used by the pond workers last year and we have filled the pot with cobbles which so far are doing their job. Our main wisteria is a great shade plant but its flowers are pathetic. However, the second smaller one had some proper flowers and that means I need to do some creative pruning before both start to grow again next year.

The usual tomatoes from the Tyack family are going well but when they were moved to their final position, the young African marigolds got booted out and are now skulking among the runner beans as Yuehong wants a clear patio for our visitors to inspect. Here's the tyrant with the Albertine rose making a strong recovery from the combined effects of last year's pruning and drought.

We've had peonies for a while now, but they are 'slow developers' and this is their best year by far. There have even been enough blooms for a few to make it to the living room.

Yuehong's main lily bed got an early season makeover so it's running late. Here's a foretaste of joys to come. Behind, the top of the garden is its usual delightful shambles. There are not a few peonies but the rhododendrons and bluebells are finished and it's crying out for a tidy up.

Finally, a look at the 'cut flowers'. The first picture shows a group of roses, photographed at 05.45 just after sunrise when the light reaches deep into the living room. The second picture shows Garfield posing for the camera with some excess peonies behind.

There's a lot of other work that's been taking place but it's not photogenic. I've started and planted out about 200 regular dahlias and 50 dark dahlias, to be followed by 150 African marigolds. Yuehong's started a large number of begonias, planted out more than 50 salvia and her patio lilies and other bulbs have barely started. The roses are doing better than last year, but they are still very much in 'recovery mode' and some, frankly, look like they won't recover.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson