July 2022 – oh hello again!

Hey, hello! I haven’t seen you for a while.

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.

In a Vase on Monday – 11th July 2022

Just creeping into the final few hours on Monday so still just about qualifying… continuing with my insistence on only creating arrangements from things that had to be cut anyway, and persisting with my over-reliance on alchemilla (there’s so much of it! And it goes with everything and looks so good in a vase!) The evening primrose needed to be trimmed a bit to stop it from shading a dahlia; the penstemon (yes him again) keeps flopping over the path; the seedheads on the oriental poppy needed to be cleared, and the wild marjoram is… well… everywhere. I think they look rather good together. Shame my kitchen is still such a mess, but I always say that anyone with a tidy kitchen isn’t spending enough time in the garden!

Head over to Cathy’s page https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2022/07/11/in-a-vase-on-monday-cool/ to have a look at her very classy cool arrangement this week and to see what all the other IAVOM participants are up to.

Six on Saturday – 9th July 2022

Saturday again already and it’s a scorcher. The Under-Gardener and I have had to retreat to the shade, we’ll make use of the light evenings and garden later into the evening instead, so I’m sitting with a cold drink and compiling my SoS. Pop over to The Propagator’s page https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/07/09/six-on-saturday-09-07-2022/ to have a look at what he and all the other SoSers are doing this weekend. Have a great weekend everyone!

Spoilt for choice as to what to share this week, the hot weather is bringing the high summer plants along at last. New things are opening up daily and there are some nice flashes of colour. As usual, there are plenty of things I’d like to improve, but on the whole I’m pretty happy with how things are looking. It will always be a work in progress.

One of my new dahlias, and isn’t she pretty? I think this one is Waltzing Matilda but I couldn’t swear to it as I failed to keep the plants labelled when I planted them out.
Helenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’. I had two heleniums, one has disappeared completely and I feared the molluscs had seen this one off too, but here it is and very nice it is too. I’d love it to bulk up. I must investigate how to propagate. I bought this one as a 9cm plant, repeated attempts to grow from seed having been unmitigated failures.
Must remember to actually harvest the food that is grown. Every day there are several things from the garden included in dinner at the moment, often less than an hour from soil to plate. Here we have peas, lettuce, calabrese and those boysenberries from last week, harvested under-ripe to beat the blackbirds. I’ll ripen them up in a brown paper bag with a banana. I couldn’t be bothered to go and get a box for them so I collected them in my hat. When I put it back on, I will probably look like Stephen King’s Carrie.
I strive for a cacophony of colour, if there can be such a thing. Still some way to go, but getting there. Today’s high bright sunshine helps.
No idea what this one is called but it’s doing better than ever, currently confined in a pot, whereas before it was struggling out in the border. I haven’t really liked its dirty yellow blooms very much but now it’s not jostling for light and food, it has a chance to show its form to best advantage, and I’m somewhat more kindly disposed to it now.
More unsubtle colour combos from me: I love the orange lilies with the pinky/purple verbena, but I wish the lilies would grow taller – the verbena (not sure which cultivar) is always a little bit too tall. These lilies were taller when first grown but now get shorter every year, presumably this pot does not offer them what they really require, or else they don’t enjoy the combination of my rather eclectic lasagne planting in here. I might lift them out and try them elsewhere once they’ve finished flowering.

Six on Saturday – 2nd July 2022

I know I shouldn’t complain about the rain when some places are desperately in need of it, but it’s very frustrating to have things to do and to have rain stop play. I am listless today and nothing satisfies. A run of largely dull wet days has held the high summer flowers back a little, everything is too wet to work and I am grumpy. Tomorrow is meant to be better, I think, so perhaps that will cheer me up, but the forecasts seem so unreliable these days that I might just as well consult the entrails. Enough whining from me: I hope everyone else is in a better mood and I wish everyone enough rain, mixed in with enough good weather for gardening, plus the time and energy to do it!

Here are my Six on Saturday: pop over to The Propagator’s site to see what he and all the other SOSers have got going on this week: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/07/02/six-on-saturday-02-07-2022/

Happily, the Dyer’s Camomile is like sunshine on a rainy day. I like the feverfew too, even though it self seeds everywhere and smells a bit odd. A herbal remedy for migraine and headaches, I do occasionally pop some feverfew flowers in a fresh herbal tea.
Carnations grown from seed some five years ago and still going strong, though the rain has battered them somewhat. The red ones in particular smell delicious and the flowers taste amazing – a little like cloves, with added sweetness. I nibble on them as I walk past.
The calabrese looks lovely with raindrops on it. This one is destined to be tomorrow’s tea, probably in a green veg pasta dish of some sort.
I think rattus rattus might have found the mange tout. I shall replenish the bait boxes and fervently hope he finds them, too. Swines. I try to be sanguine about most wildlife but I really do hate rats.
I enjoy the bright candy colours of these zinnia but they are smaller than I had hoped and they are such princesses – fussy little things that give up overnight and hate root disturbance. Every year I say I won’t bother growing them again, only to relent when sowing season rolls around.
Another mixed bag here: the boysenberry is delicious but so far this year we wouldn’t know, as the blackbirds have beaten us to every single ripe fruit (note the stems where fruit has been!) Last year I was able to net, but this year the branches go too far up the shed wall and I won’t be able to do it in such a way as to be sure birds can’t get in and get trapped. I guess we’ll just have to share this year and hope that next year I can grow so many that it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately the blackbirds’ idea of sharing doesn’t involve the humans getting much of a look-in…

In a vase on Monday – 27th June 2022

In haste from me once again – my contribution to IAVOM, just squeezing in at the tail end of the day. Once again the necessity of deadheading made my choice for me, and two weather-damaged blooms from a nameless cheap floribunda rose got paired with some heavenly-smelling trachleospermum for a chintzy mini arrangement in a wholly impractical milk jug. I have a weakness for vintage china, the chintzier and kitschier the better, and if it’s got a crinoline lady in an implausible English Country Garden on it, so much the better as far as I’m concerned. My Welsh dresser fairly groans with this particular motif of Dolly Varden in her yellow crinoline (husband groans too, every time another piece of china makes it into the house). The rose – well, barely scented, makes a mess of fallen petals, gets terrible black spot… but flowers its heart out all season, in big blowsy sprays of a rich pinky-red, so I can’t help but love it. It has an almost velvety quality. It was cheap as chips in B&Q and I don’t think I’d be without it now. The trachleospermum sprawls over an East-facing fence and threatens to engulf our patio and the neighbours’. I am inclined to let it.

Pop over to Cathy’s site https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2022/06/27/ina-vase-on-monday-tea-anyone-cake/ to see what she’s been up to this week (she’s been very busy!) and to take a look at everyone else’s IAVOMs. I hope Monday has been kind to everyone (preferably kinder than it has to me!)

Six on Saturday – 25th June 2022

Good morning fellow gardeners around the world! Thanks as always to Mr P for hosting. Here are my six, in haste, as I try to organise myself to go to a wedding whilst gritting my teeth through chronic pain. I would rather be in the garden but then that is my default setting! I’m sure I’ll have a fabulous time once I get there. And Sunday is earmarked for gardening, pain notwithstanding!

Head over to The Propagator’s page to see what everyone else is sharing this week: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2022/06/25/six-on-saturday-25-06-2022/

This little viola self-seeded in this pot of acidanthera murieli. The acidanthera are decidedly miffy so I’m delighted they’ve got such a bright and amiable companion.
I think this paeony is Sarah Bernhardt. Whichever one she is, she’s always late to the party, which is handy as it extends the paeony season in this border considerably.
I find the protuberant flower heads on these houseleeks strangely amusing, but I’m odd like that.
I’m very attached to this lotus berthelotii, which is now at least 5 years old and has flowered prodigiously this year. Every year it emerges from overwintering in a cold greenhouse looking like it’s going to give up completely, and every year it bounces back after a bit of a prune and a feed.
These diorama are meant to be ‘Blackbird’ but I don’t think the flowers are dark enough. A long term investment, these were the very devil to grow from seed and finally bloomed some four years later. Extremely difficult to photograph as they bob about so much in the breeze, which I appreciate is the whole point of having them in the garden. They’re really pretty and I am very pleased with them, whichever variety they are, they add great structure and movement.
The recent spell of heat and high sun has brought the dahlias along and here Bishop of Llandaff is strident alongside salvia Amistad and a penstemon which I think is Andenken an Freidrich An, or something like that. The red hot pokers are going over now but the achillea Cloth of Gold in the centre is just thinking about opening, which will give this ensemble exactly the sort of strident announcement of colour I aim for in the border in high summer (subtlety is not my watchword, in the garden or elsewhere).

In a Vase on Monday – 20th June 2022

Today’s IAVOM presented multiple challenges. I cling to the preconception that vases may only be filled from things that had to be pruned or cut back anyway, which significantly reduces scope. Since we are in that odd dip between the Spring display going over and the Summer one getting into full swing, there was a surprisingly small range of things in need of cutting to choose from. I had nothing in the bright orange colour that I would have liked to team with the alchemilla and the corncockle (and I feel more than a little lazy for falling back on the alchemilla again, but it needed to be cut as Chief Engineer was complaining of wet legs after every trip down the path!) The corncockle was confounding, as what looks fulsome and colourful in the border proves to be a sorrowful thing with few blooms on the individual stems when cut. Still, here we are. Some foliage was needed and nothing big and striking was to be had… until I noticed that the artichoke leaves were blocking light from everything else in the border. Finding a receptacle was the next difficulty – a table lantern I’d made out of a vase stolen from an old workplace proved the ideal shape. The final problem was finding a background that worked… everywhere is so cluttered and higgledly piggeldy in our house that an expanse of plain empty space is nowhere to be found. I tried three different spots and I still think the shot taken in the chaotic pigsty of a kitchen looks best!

Thanks to Cathy for hosting IAVOM. Pop over to her site to be wowed by her beautiful garden and to see what everyone else is putting in their vases this Monday! https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2022/06/20/in-a-vase-on-monday-strong-deliverer/

Late June 2022 – Everything is Rosy

I was only able to garden for one day out of the three that comprised my weekend, making it imperative that I cram as much as possible into the Sunday. I think I gave a reasonable account of myself. Saturday was taken up with torrential and much needed rain. Sunday was overcast but warm and dry, so perfect for a good long stint of gardening. I did a lot of tying in, a huge amount of cutting back and a gratifying amount of harvesting, ably supported by Chief Engineer (also on cutting back duties) and the Under-Gardener (on sniffing and snoozing duties, with the occasional bout of enthusiastic tail-wagging). Sufficient pauses were taken to smell the roses.

The Boss is brandishing the weed burner and I don’t trust that thing.
I was up a stepladder deadheading the rose arch and tying in the new growth when I thought the view up the garden from there would make a nice shot, so I climbed down to find my phone (it’s a long way back to the house!) and snapped one. It’s a shame it was such an overcast day!
Gertrude Jekyll has the best scent…
…but I think The Generous Gardener is ever so slightly prettier.
The elder is covered in black fly… but it is also covered in ladybird larvae! They are not terribly easy to see in this pic, they just look like black blobs, but trust me, I have never seen so many in one place before.
The flowers on these peas are so pretty. This pea is from a friend, I think it’s called revejo or something similar. It is a very old variety, used for drying and storing as a pulse for soups and stews. It’s delicious and I grew nowhere near enough last year so I’ve grown loads this year, along with lots of other legumes for drying.
I lifted the first of the potatoes today. There’s always at least one that gets speared by the fork! The yield isn’t amazing but they’re nice spuds (we had them for tea and I can confirm they’re delicious). These are Red Duke of York. I think I may have lifted them slightly early, as I remember I was a little later than planned getting them in, because it was cold, and in the end I used a cloche to give them a bit of protection (and a good job too, as we did have some frosts just after I planted those first ones). I’ve left a few other plants of the same variety in, so I’ll wait a bit longer before lifting any more. The soil was quite dry, despite me having watered, so it’s possible I under-estimated just how thirsty they are and this has also affected yield. Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with these, I think I’ve improved on last year’s performance already.
I have improved my pelargonium husbandry with judicious pruning and feeding.
Apples coming along nicely on the newest tree. I’m not sure I’m meant to let it fruit in its early years, actually. At the very least I should probably thin these fruitlets.
I’m pleased with this. A hole cut in the leylandii hedge with a mirror in it on an angle creates the illusion of another garden beyond. I need to adjust the branches around the edges to obscure the mirror a bit more but I think it’s quite a fun effect.
That accidental miniature rose from David Austin is a real do-er, I love her.
The heat is bringing along the orange flowers of high summer. First lily has opened. I am ever alert to the menace of lily beetle, which has clearly been having a chow down on this when I’m not looking.
I thought it might be nice to share a view from above. This is the view from our bedroom window. That clematis armandii on the pergola is a sickly looking thing. I blame the mole. I wonder if lining the planting hole with chicken wire might help to deter his earthworks around the roots?
The life of an Under-Gardener is unbelievably hard. Note cunning use of weasel toy as pillow. He did that himself. He’s no fool. Above right in the black pot, the lemon tree I grew from a pip, now 7 years old;centre, two pots of perennialising blue lobelia, also grown from seed which was free with a magazine, so that’s exceptionally good value; centre in the teal pot, a circis someone else grew from seed which I intend to plant against a wall and train eventually. Obviously this more than makes up for all the other plants that did not come to me free of charge!

Six on Saturday – 18th June 2022

It was scorching yesterday, so obviously I chose to collect and bag up a tonne of horse manure with a hangover. Today, blasts of very welcome heavy rain have kept me out of the garden so far, but I’m not complaining. I’m dallying over an extra coffee and browsing the gardens of all the other SOSers, who are really raising the bar with some fabulous photos. Check them out on Mr Propagator’s page, link below, and take a look at the participant guide, second link, if you fancy joining in yourself. Wishing everyone a decent sprinkling of rain with enough dry spells for a spot of gardening in between showers!



Slightly blurry poppies, since they were swaying in the breeze when I tried to photograph them. Self-seeded (and HOW!!! They are EVERYWHERE!!!!) Originally from seed given to me by a couple of friends. I love the colour and the showy stamens. I do love the seedheads too but I might deadhead sooner this year in a bid to avoid turning the garden into a monoculture.
This penstemon was a swap done with a neighbour at our old allotment site and this is the first year it’s put on a good show. It looks set to make a nice big statement in the border and provide a good block of bold colour.
The self-sown teasels are ridiculous. This one must be 8ft tall. I rather like it, but it’s in the most inconvenient place, close to the front of the border. I shall be torn between leaving the seedheads up for the birds and taking them down to avold further self-sowings. We all know the former shall win out though, don’t we?
Peas are good. These are competing with the teasels. I’ll need stepladders to harvest. These are the ‘telefono’ peas from Franchi seeds. I find some Franchi stuff a bit hit and miss, but these peas never fail me. Some other varieties of pea in front. I’ve gone all out on peas this year.
The yellow loosestrife, nepeta Six Hills Giant and the pink centranthus are real spreaders, but I need tough bulky plants here because the leylandii hedge makes this border inhospitable to many things, so I’m happy to let these thugs sprawl. Chief Engineer complains of wet legs when hanging out the washing on the line, though, so I might need to curb the nepeta’s enthusiasm.
Clematis Midnight Etoile coming along nicely. A very mixed bag from my clematises (clematii? Clematis? What is the plural?!) Some are refusing to do much of anything at all. I think a combination of mole and S&S is probably to blame. Infuriating. This clematis is very reliable, though.

Thursday 16th June 2022 – cheers!

There is no point at all in putting all this effort into a garden if you don’t do this in it.

Today this little blog hit 1000 views since I started it, which isn’t bad really considering I only ever really intended to use it as a virtual garden diary. Having abandoned all social media apps, blogging on here has been a revelation, and I get far more out of engaging with other bloggers and peeking into their gardens than I ever did from scrolling through the anger of random strangers on Twitter. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who visits and to all the other bloggers who take the time to share their gardens and their thoughts. Cheers, everyone!