Flaming June isn’t doing a huge amount of flaming so far: we’ve had a fair run of reasonable weather but a cold wind seems to be taking the warmth out of the inconsistent sun and also is drying everything out. As usual, some things are performing better than ever and some are disappointingly reluctant, with no rhyme or reason to it. No matter: I love the garden anyway and I love the process. I am managing a good few hours of gardening in the evenings after work at the moment, with the long light evenings: I savour every moment and feel the benefit in mind and body.
I don’t generally care much for miniature roses. This one was sent to me in error by David Austin when I ordered a completely different bare root specimen. Their customer service is so excellent that they fulfilled my order correctly and told me I could keep this one too. It is a healthy, dainty little thing in a strangely pleasing shade of peach. I wouldn’t have chosen it but I’m happy to welcome it. I’ve yet to meet a David Austin rose I didn’t like.
This is the rose I actually wanted from David Austin: Rosa gallica, the apothecary’s rose. I wanted it to make tinctures, tissues and syrups from the petals, but I can’t actually bring myself to pick the blooms. The smell is divine and I love the hot pink.
There are people who will tell you that yellow, pink and purple do not go well together: those people are wrong and their opinion may be safely disregarded.
The cool breeze is pleasing to the Under-Gardener, who finds it helpful for drying his thick coat, having been unceremoniously thrown in the bath after months of bath-dodging, due to his smell becoming quite unbearable. He will be working hard to restore his doggy aroma very soon, by dashing into puddles and streams and seeking out unmentionable things to roll in.
I love the way the colour palette in the garden changes as the year draws on, the sun gets higher and we move further into Summer and the colours getting bolder, warmer and brighter. I divided the red hot pokers last Autumn and they’ve repaid me with more flower spikes than ever. I know not everyone cares for them but I have loved them since seeing my granny’s specimen when I was little. I especially like them with the dark blue/purple of salvia ‘Amistad’ on the right, which is definitely one of my desert island plants. I lift this one every year to over-winter it and take safety cuttings too. I dare say it might make it through a winter in situ and might then come back bigger, but I love it too much to take the risk – which is silly, really, as I always have spares and it’s easy enough to come by a replacement anyway!
A blowsy big sister to the David Austin miniature, this peachy-orange madam came from a site at which we used to have an allotment. She grew, unloved, inside the remains of a derelict greenhouse on an overgrown, abandoned plot… so I dived in with my fork and spirited her away to a better life. I call her ‘Barbara Cartland’ because she was a much pinker shade in her previous home and reminded me of the sort of cloying colours she was known for wearing. There probably really is a pink rose called Barbara Cartland, actually. Anyway, this old girl gets bigger and stronger every year, and I love her.
The nifty planter built by Chief Engineer has been converted into a really useful cold frame. That chill wind is no friend to my courgettes – but by fastening on those simple cloches I made earlier this year, we have built the perfect shelter. I discovered last year that courgettes were surprisingly happy restricted in these polystyrene boxes, so here we have the perfect arrangement. I’ll start taking the cloches off on hotter days soon.
Those teasels are frankly ridiculous. I’m not sure I’ve seen them grow quite this tall in the wild, but then I’ve really only seen them on wasteland or roadside verges. I rather like them, but I won’t be letting these self-seed!
Dahlias, penstemon and dianthus starting up; lupins and oriental poppies going over. Time to embark on some judicious cutting back in this border, to give light and space to the next season’s stars. I used to find it really hard to do, now I find it exciting to welcome in the next phase and I enjoy building my skills and knowledge, gaining an understanding of how to make space and manage the changes for a continuous display. Keeping the borders looking full is a challenge.
Finding the least convenient place to sunbathe is a challenge the Under-Gardener can meet head-on every time.
The white nigella really is everywhere. I love the way it adds a little accent of light and I will be welcoming its enthusiastic self-seeding next year too! The daucus carrota has proved more robust than ammi – less delicate and airy but if the pay-off is that it’s perennial, tougher, doesn’t need staking and is generally less work, then I’ll take that. I’ll probably sow more daucus c. in the Autumn and give up on ammi for a bit – one less bit of slug fodder and one less thing to have to cosset with several pottings on!
Quite right. Stop potting on and give me attention immediately. and for heavens’ sake wash those filthy gardening dungarees.