Although there is at least something in flower for eleven months out of twelve in the garden, in recent years, I’ve come to see a pattern in the flowering that splits the year into three distinct flowering “acts” as part of a theatrical play.
The first begins in spring, the snowdrops are the prelude to all the spring flowering plants and blossom at the start of the year, the daffodils, ornamental cherry and currant, spirea and skimmia, finishing with the end-of act finale, the wisteria.
There follows a short interlude when the garden for the most part turns green again and people can get up for a loo break and more toffee popcorn, but it isn’t long before the summer act opens with a great big bang as the roses, delphiniums, ceanothus, alliums, pinks, lupins, foxgloves and clematis (the surviving ones) flower. This great ensemble takes us right through the summer, but one by one they gradually finish and fade from the stage and the garden turns green again.
As the summer progresses and temperatures fall from “oppressively hot” to “balmy and warm”, the days also start getting shorter and the nights, cooler. This is the cue for the late summer flowering plants to burst onto the scene with lavender, gaura, cupid darts and stargazer lilies all coming into flower.
While plants that flowered earlier in the year are beginning to fade, everyone’s focus is firmly riveted on the stunning stands of stargazer lilies on the patio and around the garden. They are the “big finale” to a garden show that started back in late winter with the first snowdrops pushing through the frozen ground.
So this is where we are now. We’re watching the annual grand finale by the stargazer lilies, other flowers are now a memory, but the lavender is bringing up the rear and will carry on long after the lilies have finished.
When even the lavender has gone, we will be left with echoes of summer – as it inexorably descends into autumn – from the very late fuchsias, a little bit of snapdragon and the caryopteris. By the time winter arrives, even those will have gone and then we’re left frantically searching for any signs of flowers in the short, cold and bleak days.
In the mean time, the whole garden is filled with the heady scent of stargazer lilies having spent the day basking in the lazy late summer sunshine. If you miss the season finale, there’s no encore, you’ll have to wait for the next show, due to start in about five months.