In contrast to last week, I think I might have tried too hard to be clever this week. I was desperate to make use of this Portmeirion vase and of the pin holder I have used inside it… and I thought I would try working with a limited colour palette instead of my usual explosion in a paintbox… but I still feel it’s a bit cluttered and not as elegant as I’d like, plus wherever I photographed this, I couldn’t quite get the colours to reproduce accurately and I’m afraid it looks so much nicer, much fresher and cleaner, somehow, in person than it does in these pictures. Anyway, here are three different shots, each with subtle differences in tones. The first picture is probably the closest to the way these really look to my eyes. I must tell you that the roses smell beautiful. I’m also pleased to report that participating in IAVOM has quite cured me of my reticence to cut flowers for the house, which is a real joy, as it is such a pleasure to bring the garden indoors. It has also inspired me to join a flower arranging course, purely for fun, and it is such a restorative and relaxing thing, so a heartfelt thanks to Cathy for hosting and to everyone who joins in, for providing such inspiration and a lovely sense of community! Hope the week is kind to everyone.
I’ve actually managed to sleep in a little tiny bit later than usual for the last few days and I feel less stressed and burnt out – consequently, I have had more energy for gardening, and in itself that has made me feel better too. The bright sun was too good to waste today, especially with grey skies in the distance, so all indoor work got postponed to another day and off I dashed to the garden. The Under-Gardener stayed resolutely indoors, though, anxiously watching to see whether Chief Engineer intended to leave him on his own with the Head Gardener yet again. The Under-Gardener finds any splitting of the pack incredibly vexatious.
Every gardener will have certain tasks that, for them, symbolise the shift from Summer to Autumn and for me it’s chopping down and binning the tomato plants. This year’s plants performed well. I’m a lot more relaxed about growing tomatoes these days. I used to fret about blight, now I accept it as a ‘when-not-if’ event and grow only early fruiting varieties or ones that I know will resist blight up to a point. this paid off this year, with plants getting affected but fruit remaining mostly unscathed. The plants have fruited admirably and indeed continue to do so, but I need to start clearing up and making space for cold frames and other over-wintering arrangements, so the tomato plants need to go. I was surprised to find so many fruits remaining: not sure whether to try to ripen these up (I generally find that, given long enough with a ripe banana, all tomatoes will ripen eventually) or perhaps I’ll make a very small amount of green tomato chutney, always so welcome with a Christmas cheese board? Decisions, decisions…
Hello to SOSers around the world! First things first – sincere thanks to Mr Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday – his last for a bit. You have brought joy to many, Mr P, I hope your rest from hosting is restorative and that we still see you from time to time. Read his post on this, and catch up with all the other SOSers, here: .https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/10/15/six-on-saturday-transition/
Nothing fancy or clever this week, this week we simply have a vibrant collection of casualties that had snapped off and needed cutting, haphazardly grabbed, trimmed down and stuffed in a jam jar. Waltzing Matilda is the dahlia that keeps giving and she’s really my star performer this year. The helenium has been fabulous too and I’ll definitely be buying more of it to build up a bigger block. Aster Helen Picton is a bit tall and wayward, making her prone to falling over, but the rich purple is so lovely that I’ll forgive her pretty much anything (I dithered about pinching off those spent blooms but I decided they were quite pleasingly autumnal). The Bishop series dahlias have really under-performed for me this year but you can just see a rather ragged Bishop of Oxford peeking out – Llandaff has done slightly better than him this year but still not especially well. There was something about this year that the dark foliage dahlias did not like… heat and drought perhaps…) Anyway, I am grateful to the border for still holding some late colour, and grateful to Cathy for hosting IAVOM! Hope the week is kind to everyone.
I’ve been feeling very up and down recently (tipped much more in the down direction) and it’s made blogging and, indeed, everything, feel like very hard work. Everything seems to take me longer than I want it to and nothing ever seems to be finished. Ordinarily I would say that a good long stint of gardening would sort me out, but recently I’ve felt so knackered and generally used up that I seem to run out of steam and enthusiasm long before I run out of tasks. Never mind. This too shall pass. In the meantime, things are still getting done, albeit slowly, and there is much in the garden to lift the spirits. Let’s take a look.
Two lots of long-suffering brassicas. The collards on the left above are being turned into doilies by caterpillars (how DO the little buggers get in through the butterfly net?). The broccoli on the right is being shredded by the idiot wood pigeons. The collards might bounce back when the temperature drops. The broccoli will not. The only time I like wood pigeons is when they’re in a pie.
The raspberries are still really productive. They are meant to be a mixture of summer and autumn fruiting varieties but they all steadfastly refuse to fruit until autumn – I think this is due to the point in the year at which they get the most direct sun – I think they’re probably a bit shaded here and don’t get going until the point in the year slanting autumn sun has worked its way round the garden in just the right direction. I never planted a golden variety but here we have one, just the same. It tastes exactly the same as its red cousins.
It’s the usual chaotic jumble, but there’s still quite a pleasing amount of colour in the garden.
I haven’t had time to participate in Cathy’s lovely IAVOM for weeks, so it’s nice to be back with a blast of colour. I couldn’t quite decide which of these was the better photo, so have added both. I suppose the first is slightly better, if only because it doesn’t include a view of the washing on the line like the second one does!
Here we have a collection of the bright jewel colours I was aiming for with this year’s dahlia re-stocking. They have been slow to get going from the tubers that arrived earlier this year but they are finally starting to perform as I had hoped. I’d have liked more orange to add into the mix, but these are very pleasing, and Waltzing Matilda in the centre is my favourite – such a complex blend of colours, she is a real dazzler. the asters are called ‘Helen Picton’ and I love their rich purple, which makes a nice change from the paler asters that are more commonly seen. I was really stuck for foliage so ended up adding some paeony leaves, which seem to have held their form and colour very late into the year this year, though perhaps I am misremembering their previous performances.
This peculiar vase is a vintage piece I picked up in our local tip shop. It has a funny wire frog inside to hold the flowers and it is the very devil to work with.
I am frazzled and so is the garden. There is much to be done, yet no energy or motivation to do it, and the plants are similarly exhausted after so much heat and so little rain – now is not the time to be upping and moving the gardener or the plants. So, we tinker around the edges, and deadhead when we can be bothered, and wring our hands at the outbreak of red spider mite that threatens the new dahlias. And we wait, for a better state of mind. And the rain comes at last, in the night, and we are grateful. This too shall pass.
Happy Saturday to gardeners and readers around the world and a special thank you to new followers – it’s so nice that people are interested in following what we’re up to in the garden, and I can only apologise for not posting much recently. The hot weather makes me lazy and one must bear the welfare of both gardener and plants in mind… a heatwave is no time to be digging, or moving plants around, or trying to raise seedlings. So mostly we have been sitting in the shade and enjoying the garden as inhabitants not as caretakers: it makes a pleasant change, to be honest. We’ve also been sharing it with others by making time for some outdoor dining and entertaining and that feels like what it’s meant for – sharing the results of our hard work (both in terms of environment and produce) really makes it all feel worthwhile and special. So – further thanks to everyone who visits and shows appreciation and encouragement. All too often – and I think most gardeners will share a knowing smile at this – when someone comes to view the garden, we say “oh it’s not quite at its best at the moment”, or “oh if you’d only been here last week, you’d have seen…”. We can always find fault, there’s always something we are not quite satisfied with. Today I did my little walkaround looking for things that are thriving despite the very challenging conditions and there were a surprisingly large number. Yes, some things are struggling, but the overall picture remains pleasing. There’s a lesson for life in the garden, as usual.
Back after a little break… the garden is running away with me a bit, as it tends to do at this time of year, but this weekend I’ve rediscovered my garden mojo and am getting back into the swing of things.
Head over to The Propagator’s page to see what everyone else is up to with their Sixes on Saturday: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/07/30/six-on-saturday-30-07-2022/. Wishing all the SoSers and indeed all readers and gardeners around the world a fabulous weekend (and, for anyone in the same position as me, fingers crossed it stays dry all weekend then rains heavily during the week!)
Every year, there comes a point at which the garden overwhelms me. It goes so crazy, and it seems so big, and so rampant, and so much a living thing with its own drive and appetites that I just can’t keep up… and I admit I almost lose heart a bit, or surrender to it, or leave it to its own devices, or something. I certainly lose interest in writing about it, or trying to articulate my thoughts about it… if I have a spare second its spent watering, or deadheading, or harvesting, or staking something I didn’t stake soon enough and that is now flopping over, or chopping something back so that it doesn’t completely engulf its neighbour… all this to say, I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been drowning in garden a little bit (plus catching up with life, which has been greatly missed, but does distract one somewhat…)
So here are a few pics, taken over the past few weeks with the intention of blogging each time but having never quite gotten around to it. No narrative, just dive into the overgrown blowsy craziness. I have a full weekend of gardening ahead this coming weekend (plus a glamorous assistant joining me!) and I hope to document the work that gets done and share a few pics at some point in the weekend. I have big long term plans… and a very exciting greenhouse melon to show you all. It almost makes up for the carrot fly, and the pea moth, and the cabbage whites, and the mole damage…
As I type, dusk is settling and the evening is heady with the perfume of brugmansia, night scented stock and trachleospermum. The air is very still. I can just hear the stream at the bottom of the garden above the ceaseless rumble of traffic driving too fast on the main road at the front of the house. And above all of that I can hear the garden saying “Oh you’re back! Nice of you to join us. Look what we’ve been up to while you’ve been distracted… isn’t it fabulous?” And I have to agree, yes, yes, it is. Like life, it is messy and it is imperfect and I can find a million things wrong with it but yes, it is still fabulous. And I love it.