A lovely planting combo from one of the borders along the churchyard margin at Stow, Lincolnshire. Someone in the village has a clever eye. None of the plants need cost much at all, and if you have gardener friends, probably could be had for free. Yellow green of the Alchemilla mollis is easy to get from seed (or friends/enemies), and once your garden has it, will never (unless you work hard) be without. It’s easy enough to keep under control, though, and often seeds itself into naturally stylish places. The strong yellow of Lysimachia punctata won’t cost much to buy, increases rapidly, so if you have a big border to fill, and have got a bit of time, a single plant will do you perfectly. The cream spike of six petalled flowers is a nice iris-foliages sort of thing, easy to grow, cheerfully giving you a remarkable supply of seed, but has a quite horrible variegated form in which the whole plant just looks a terrible muddle. And the Centaurea montana, well, a few pounds at a garden centre, though easy from seed, and anyway, you could use an annual cornflower for a third of the price.
The whole planting lasts a good bit of the summer, and if you worry that the end of the season will get dull, add some easy annuals… I’d use a cream coloured nasturtium, single of double.
On another tack, we are here at the beginning of the Paeonia lactiflora season. Great excitement. Great expectations. And the terrific variation from breathtakingly elegant singles, through sorts with inner bunches of petaloids, to gorgeous/ghastly fully double things, so heavy with petals that they fall ingloriously on their faces.
Still, doubling can look, on them, splendid. Of other doubles, I’m always in doubt. Especially members of the iris and lily families, where that perfect 3+3+3+3 symmetry can reach such perfection. Nevertheless, I can’t always resist collecting for collecting’s sake. This is a picture of the double form of the common flag iris of streamsides throughout Europe. A lovely thing, a bit of a thug in the pond edge, and one very elegant variant, usually called ‘Bastardii’, in pales cream, not the usual vivid yellow. But the double… Well, it’s lost its simplicity of form, but perhaps it’s gained something else. What do you think?