It is about this time of year that the English passion for gardening reaches its peak. This passion awakes from its hibernation around Easter time and builds up to the Chelsea Flower Show in May, when thousands of enthusiasts, many with pencil and notebook, throng the tents and walks of the Royal Hospital site, and the television programmes introduce us to ever more exotic blooms. The garden centres fill up with eager shoppers, frowning in concentration as they load their trolleys with plants and saplings for the new season.
June and July are the high months for the English country garden. Gardens are open to the public and proudly shown off to visitors. If these months are disappointingly rainy, people say "At least it is good for the garden", and if the sun shines for too long at a time, then we worry about the dry earth and thirsty plants and scan the skies anxiously for a few raindrops to alleviate the drought.
Forget the gnomes and the decking, the salvia and the "water features". The truly beautiful English garden, while paying due deference to well-tended lawns (preferably shaded by a large cedar), is a place of peace and gentle colours, where lupins, delphiniums, love-in-the-mist, snapdragons and acquilegia fill the borders. Alchemilla mollis softens the edges of the paths and climbing roses riot over walls and arches, their scent filling the air. Night-scented stocks and nicotiana take up the theme as evening falls. There is no place on earth lovelier than an English country garden in its full glory.